There were 7 games on NHL ice Sunday, and the result is that the Eastern Conference playoff picture became a lot muddier, with 2 more teams climbing into contention with big wins. So lets take a tour around the action:
- The Islanders pulled themselves within 2 points of 8th with a 3-0 win over the Panthers in a very sleepy game. Andrew MacDonald scored a first period power play goal that stood up until the Isles scored a pair of empty netters in the final minute, courtesy John Tavares and Casey Cizikas. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 shots for the shutout while Jacob Markstrom made 34 stops on the 35 shots he was in the net for.
- Washington also did themselves a favor with a 3-2 shootout win over the Rangers. However, the extra point the Caps allowed New York to escape with could be a huge one as it kept the Rangers in 8th and 2 points up on the Caps and Islanders as well as moving past the Hurricanes. Washington took a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin before the 10 minute mark, but New York clawed back and had it tied before the period was over. Arron Asham and Derek Stepan did the honors for the Rangers. That was how it stayed until Ovechkin and Stepan exchanged shootout goals and then Backstrom won it in the fourth round of shooters.
- Philadelphia’s playoff chances are left clinging to life support after garnering just a single point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Penguins. Tyler Kennedy‘s goal was the winner after Sidney Crosby had tied the game with just over 6 minutes left to give the Pens their 13th straight win. Claude Giroux scored 14:09 into the second to give the Flyer the lead. Philly is now 5 points out of 8th, with 5 teams to climb over, so their hopes for the post-season are almost snuffed out.
- Brian Little had a goal and two assists to lead the Jets over the coachless Lightning 3-2. Steven Stamkos had his league leading 22nd goal for the Bolts, who played their first game after coach Guy Boucher was canned earlier that morning. Winnipeg now has a 4 point cushion on the Canes for first in the Southeast Division, but the Canes have 3 games in hand.
- Vancouver took back first place in the Northwest division, scoring a 3-2 win over the Avalanche. Jason Garrison, Mason Raymond and Alexandre Burrows each scored to give the Canucks their 4th straight win, and the see-saw battle with the Wild continues. P.A. Parenteau had a goal and an assist for the Avs, while Ryan O’Reilly had a pair of helpers and Jamie McGinn had the other goal.
- Jaroslav Halak started for the second straight night, but it wasn’t as successful for the Blues goalie. After a 19 save shutout on Saturday in Edmonton, the Flames beat him 3 times on just 17 shots to down the Blues 3-2. Roman Cervenka scored twice and Jarome Iginla had the winner for the Flames, who despite the win have almost no shot at the playoffs. T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist for the Blues, while Vladimir Sobotka had the other goal.
- For the second straight game in Anaheim, Jimmy Howard stole the show as the Red Wings won the double header 2-1. Howard made 33 saves and was helped in the last minute by the absence of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, who were all assessed misconducts after a Getzlaf tripping call with 34 seconds left. Selanne also got a game misconduct on the play. Dan Cleary and Drew Miller gave the Wings a 2-o first period lead, which was narrowed by Getzlaf’s second period power play marker.
That concludes our tour around an eventful night in the NHL. Its very busy for a Monday night, with 7 games on the schedule including New Jersey visiting Ottawa and a rematch of Saturday night when the Leafs head to Boston to face the Bruins.