As usual it was a very busy Saturday in the NHL, with 11 games outside of the battle of Ontario. A superstar who has lost his way channeled his former self, at least for one night, while 6 of 7 Canadian teams were in action. Here is a quick tour around the league:
- Alex Ovechkin had three goals and an assist as he put up almost half of his season’s output in one game as the Capitals beat the Devils 5-1. Washington scored 4 in the third to break open a 1-1 tie after Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk had exchanged 2nd period goals. Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer scored the other Washington goals. Johan Hedberg made the start for the Devils and allowed the 5 goals on 26 shots as Martin Brodeur was given the day off.
- The Flyers overcame a 3-1 Winnipeg lead and scored 4 unanswered to down the Jets 5-3. Brayden Schenn led the charge with two goals and an assist, while his linemate Jakub Voracek solidified his stake for the NHL’s first star of the week with 3 assists. Voracek has three-3 point games this week, and has 11 points in 4 games this week. Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Zac Rinaldo provided the other Flyers goals, while Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Alexander Burmistrov had given the Jets the two goal lead just past the midway point of the game, but could not hang on. Simmonds added an assist and also fought Chris Thorburn for the first of two Gordie Howe hat tricks of the day.
- Mike Smith and Nikolai Khabibulin put on a goaltending clinic as they stopped 75 of 79 combined shots, but Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner scored in the shootout as Edmonton beat the Coyotes 3-2. Eberle and Teemu Hartikainen scored to force extra time after Kyle Chipchura and Matthew Lombardi had put Phoenix up 2-0. Smith made 41 saves but Khabibulin made 34, and also stopped both shooters he faced to get the win.
- Gabriel Landeskog returned to the Avalanche lineup and recorded an assist, but it wasn’t enough as the Kings scored a 4-1 win. Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Trevor Lewis and Anze Kopitar bulged the twine for LA, while Milan Hejduk scored the Colorado goal. LA has quietly clawed their way back into the playoff race, and sit in 10th, but only one point out of 6th with at least 1 game in hand on all the teams in front of them.
- On the day that Rick DiPietro was sent to the minors, Evgeni Nabokov made 35 saves for the shutout as the Islanders beat the Sabres 4-0. Mark Streit, Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Colin McDonald provided the scoring for the Islanders, who knocked the Sabres into the Eastern Conference basement as Buffalo moved to 0-2 since the firing of Lindy Ruff.
- Carey Price made just 17 saves for the shutout as the Canadiens beat the struggling Rangers 3-0. Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Eric Cole each had a goal and an assist for the Habs, who come to Ottawa Monday night. Henrik Lundqvist got the night off for the Rangers, who are winless since Rick Nash went down with an undisclosed injury.
- Richard Panik scored his first NHL goal as part of Tampa’s 5-2 downing of the Hurricanes. Mathieu Garon won the battle of the backups, making 32 saves while Dan Ellis was the victim of 5 goals on 39 shots taking the loss. Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who also got goals from Marc-Andre Bergeron, Taylor Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot. Chad Larose had a goal and an assist and Drayson Bowman had the other for the Canes, who dropped from the 3rd seed to the 10th seed in the East as Tampa took over the Southeast division lead.
- Jimmy Howard made 33 saves for the shutout and Niklas Kronwall had a goal and 2 assists to pace the Red Wings to a 4-0 win over the Predators. Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar and Dan Cleary had the other Detroit goals, as the Wings victimized Pekka Rinne for 4 goals on 27 shots, just the second time he has allowed 4 in a game this season.
- Chris Stewart and David Perron scored for the Blues and Jaroslav Halak made 19 saves in their 2-1 win over Columbus. Matt Calvert‘s shorthanded goal was the only blemish on Halak, who has allowed only 2 goals in 2+ games since returning from injury and righting the St. Louis goaltending ship.
- Joe Thornton fought for the second time in 4 games as the sinking Sharks lost again, this time 3-1 to the Stars. Jamie Benn was the combatant for Thornton, as part of his Gordie Howe Hat Trick, adding a goal and an assist. Jaromir Jagr and Michael Ryeder had the other Dallas goals while Patrick Marleau replied for San Jose. The Sharks have won just once in their last 10 games after winning their first 7.
- Two Matt Stajan goals in the third period was the difference as the Flames upended the Wild 3-1. Alex Tanguay and Charlie Coyle had exchanged first period goals and the game stood tied until Stajan broke it 7:19 into the third and then added the empty netter to seal the deal. Joey MacDonald made 30 saves in the Flames net, while Dany Heatley was -3 with 1 shot on goal for the losing Wild.
There are 8 games on Sunday, meaning 10 teams will be in the second half of back-to-backs as the schedule picks up. Chicago will attempt to extend their points streak to 18 games in the battle of First vs Worst in the west as they face the last place Blue Jackets. Check back tomorrow for a complete recap.