There were 10 games in the NHL on Saturday, with almost every game having playoff implications of one sort or another. Here is a quick recap of all the action and the implications:
- Evander Kane had a goal and an assist to bring the Jets (temporarily, until Washington beat Florida later in the evening) back into first place in the Southeast Division with a 4-1 win over the Flyers. Grant Clitsome, Kyle Wellwood and Bryan Little had the other Winnipeg goals. Ruslan Fedotenko had the Flyers goal, actually putting them up 1-0 before a Jets outburst with 3 goals in just over 2 minutes erased that, and then Little’s goal with under a minute left in the second led to Ilya Bryzgalov being pulled after 40 minutes. Winnipeg ended the day in 9th place, 2 points behind the Islanders.
- Toronto managed just 18 shots on Martin Brodeur, but managed to put 2 past him and James Reimer made 26 saves for the win, 2-1 over the Devils. Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak did the scoring for the Leafs, who moved 2 points up on Ottawa, but with the regulation win kept the now 10th place Devils 5 points back of the Senators in the playoff chase in the East. David Clarkson had the goal for New Jersey, who had a late power play but could not find the equalizer.
- The Rangers scored three times in the second period, including a pair of markers 31 seconds apart en route to a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes. Derek Stepan opened the scoring 2 minutes into the second and Ryan Callahan doubled it quickly with what turned out to be the game winner. Rick Nash added one later in the second and Brian Boyle iced it with an empty netter with 1 second left, while Henrik Lundqvist made 48 stops to hold the Canes at bay, being beaten only by Zac Dalpe‘s first goal of the season near the midway point of the third. The Rangers remain in 7th, tied with the Islanders, who also kept pace. Both teams are 2 points back of the Senators.
- Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 win over Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Michael Grabner, Matt Martin and Andrew MacDonald also scored for the Isles, who move within 2 points of the Senators in the Eastern Conference, along with the Rangers. Matt Carle had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, with Richard Panik scoring the other goal.
- Montreal defeated the arch-rival Bruins 2-1, moving 3 points up on them for first in the Northeast Division. Michael Ryder scored yet another goal, which turned out to be the game winner just under a minute into the second after Alex Galchenyuk had given the Habs the lead in the first. P.K. Subban set up both goals for the Canadiens. Daniel Paille scored for the Bruins, who also had a late power play but couldn’t get a shot on goal, let alone tie it up.
- Alex Ovechkin had 3 goals and an assist as Washington jumped out to a 4-0 lead and withstood a late Florida rally to re-take first place in the Southeast Division, with a 4-2 final. Nicklas Backstrom had 3 assists for the Caps, who also got a goal and an assist from Mike Ribeiro. Tomas Kopecky and Peter Mueller scored in the first half of the third to make it a game, but the Caps held down the league’s worst team and came away with the big win.
- Ray Emery made 20 saves for the shutout as the Blackhawks downed the Predators 1-0. Bryan Bickell scored the lone Chicago goal, 5 and a half minutes into the first period. Pekka Rinne was just as good as Emery, kicking aside 29 shots, but the one that got past him was enough for the Hawks win. It was a huge loss for the Predators, as they are stuck in 12th place, 4 points out of 8th with 5 teams to pass.
- Jeff Carter had a goal and an assists and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves to lead the Kings to a 4-1 win over the Oilers. Mike Richards, Slava Voynov and Drew Doughty had the other goals for LA, moving them back in front of the Sharks for the 4th seed in the Western Conference. Magnus Paajarvi scored the lone goal for Edmonton, who missed a chance to move within a point of 8th place St. Louis, and are still 3 behind the Blues, in 10th spot.
- Mike Smith returned to the Coyotes crease and made an immediate impact, posting 24 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Avalanche. Mikkel Boedker, Martin Hanzal, Boyd Gordon and Shane Doan provided Smith with more than enough goal support. Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two helpers to pace the Coyotes. Phoenix moved into 9th place, 2 points behind the Blues.
- The Canucks’ top line of Henrik Sedin (1 goal, 2assists), Daniel Sedin (3 assists) and Alexandre Burrows (1 goal, 1 assist) were dominant in Vancouver’s 5-2 win over the Flames. Calgary actually outshot the Canucks 38-22 but Cory Schneider was very good in turning away 36 shots. Miikka Kiprusoff allowed 4 goals on 21 shots. Vancouver stretched their lead in the Northwest to 4 points on the Wild.
That concludes our tour around the NHL for Saturday night, where playoff races continue to get tighter. There are 8 games on Sunday beginning just after noon with a big matchup between the Blues and the Red Wings, while the Senators will visit the Panthers, among the many games with playoff implications. Check back tomorrow for a full recap of all the action.
Topics: Alex Ovechkin, Ben Bishop, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets