A light Friday night in the NHL as per usual saw the extension of a couple of streaks, both winning and losing. Columbus is now tied for 8th in the West, while the Penguins keep rolling along. Here is a quick tour around the league.
- The Islanders kept it close, but the Penguins were just too much and Pittsburgh scored twice in the third period to take the game 4-2. The Islanders had leads of 1-0 (goal by Mark Streit) and then 2-1 (Josh Bailey) but in the end couldn’t hang on. Joe Vitale tied it up the first time, and Chris Kunitz evened the game at two. Brandon Sutter scored the winner early in the third and Pascal Dupuis capped it off with the empty netter. Sidney Crosby had 2 assists extending his lead to 11 points over teammate Kunitz for the league scoring title. It was the Pens’ 11th straight win and they now have a 3 point lead in the conference, although Montreal does have 2 games in hand.
- For the second night in a row, Washington handed Winnipeg a beatdown in the Jets’ own rink. Twenty-four hours after shutting out the Jets 4-0, the Caps put 6 past Winnipeg goalies and Braden Holtby came within 10 minutes of shutting them out for the 3rd time this season in Winnipeg. Alex Ovechkin scored twice, while Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, Jay Beagle and Mike Green had the others. Dustin Byfuglien banked one in off a Capitals defender for the lone Jets goal. Ondrej Pavelec allowed 3 goals on just 9 shots, while Al Montoya came in and allowed 2 on 15 shots. Holtby stopped 30 of 31, and in the three games in Winnipeg he has played this season, he has stopped 85 of 86 shots and has two shutouts in 3 games. Washington is going to miss having Winnipeg in their division next season.
- Nick Foligno keyed a quick strike offense with two goals in 51 seconds and then Artem Anisimov scored 24 seconds later to turn a close 1-1 game into a 5-1 Columbus blowout over the Flames. Jared Boll had given the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead late in the first and Curtis Glencross evened it up early in the second. The Columbus explosion started 13:00 into the second, and they carried it over until Colton Gillies put the final nail in the Flames’ coffin in the third. Columbus climbed into a tie for 8th place, albeit they have played 2 more games than the Sharks, but with points in their last 12 are the hottest team in the West. The Flames dropped their 9th straight road game, and will be very happy to get home on Sunday.
- Justin Abdelkader scored 3 times and added an assist while linemates Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen added a goal and two assists each to pace the Red Wings to a 5-1 win over the Ducks. It was the Ducks first regulation loss in 12 games and first home loss in 13 games. Jimmy Howard made 33 saves, and was strong after allowing the Ducks to score first. Teemu Selanne was the only one to beat Howard, who also chipped in an assist to go with the win.
That concludes our tour around the NHL on Friday night. Its not an incredibly busy Saturday, with only 9 games on the schedule. Ottawa hosts the Lightning in a matinee, while the other 4 Northeast teams all play each other – Boston is in Toronto while Buffalo visits Montreal.