There were just 4 games on the NHL schedule Friday night, but a couple of teams made big statements while another missed out on the chance. Here is a tour around the league.
- The New Jersey Devils dropped a 6-5 shootout decision to the Lightning, and in doing so missed a chance to put some space between them an the battle for 8th going on just behind them. The Devils had leads of 2-0 on goals by Andrei Loktionov and Tom Kostopoulos and then 4-2 courtesy of Andy Greene and Ryan Carter. Both times Steven Stamkos keyed comebacks to tie the game, first followed by Nate Thompson to tie the game at 2 and then Alex Killorn to knot the game at 4 and send it to OT. Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman both scored in the shootout with Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias were denied to give Jon Cooper his first win behind the Lightning bench. The single point gives New Jersey a 3 point cushion over the 8th place Rangers and 9th place Islanders, but I am sure they wanted more from this game.
- The Anaheim Ducks continue to be the kryptonite for the Chicago Blackhawks as they swept the season series against the West’s top team. Sheldon Souray scored with just over 2 minutes left to break a 1-1 tie and give the Ducks their first win in 5 games, becoming the third team in the league to reach 50 points and moving within 3 points of Chicago for the top seed in the conference. Corey Perry had opened the scoring early in the second period, while Patrick Kane evened the score early in the third. Ray Emery suffered his first regulation loss in the defeat.
- The Stars snapped the Wild’s 7 game winning streak and in doing so moved within a point of 8th place with a 5-3 win over the Wild. Ray Whitney, Tomas Vincour, Erik Cole, Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin scored for the Stars, while Devin Setoguchi, Jared Spurgeon and Torrey Mitchell. Jaromir Jagr assisted on Benn’s goal, giving him 1,000 career assists.
- The Blue Jackets kept their drive for the playoffs alive with a 6-4 win over the Jarome Iginla-less Flames. It was an explosive 2nd period with 7 goals, 4 from Columbus and 3 from Calgary. Columbus sits tied for 9th with the Stars, but have played 2 more games. They will need to continue to pile up W’s in short order if they want to pass 2 teams with only 13 games remaining.
That concludes our tour around the NHL for a quiet Friday night. Business picks up on Saturday as usual, with a ton of games that have playoff implications among the 11 games on the slate. Two teams on the cusp of the playoffs play against two of the top ranked teams when the Islanders face the Penguins and the Rangers face the Habs. Carolina plays a must-win game in Winnipeg, as they trail the Jets by 6 points in the division, with 3 games in hand. Oh yeah, there is a little thing called the Battle of Ontario on the schedule as well.