There were 11 games around the NHL on a busy Saturday night that saw a gap develop between the top 8 and the rest of the field in the East, and the gap narrow in the west. Here is a quick tour around the league.
- Jhonas Enroth made 28 saves and Christian Ehrhoff‘s goal 17 seconds into the third period was the balance of the scoring as Buffalo defeated Philadelphia 1-0. Buffalo’s tiny flicker of a playoff hope stays alive, but 6 back with 6 to play makes it a pipe dream and it would take a miracle for them to qualify.
- In a potential first round playoff preview, Toronto scored on 4 of their first 5 shots and coasted to a 5-1 win over the Canadiens. Phil Kessel and Jay McClement led the way with a goal and an assist apiece, while Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Dion Phaneuf had the others. Carey Price lasted just over 10 minutes, allowing 3 goals on 4 shots before being replaced by Peter Budaj, who settled down after allowing a goal on the first shot he faced. Davis Drewiske scored his first goal as a Canadien in the loss.
- It was worst-case scenario for the Senators as the Rangers and Islanders went to overtime, resulting in a 3 point game. After a scoreless 60 minutes, it was Dan Girardi who opened and closed the scoring 3:11 into the extra frame to give the Rangers the win. The Islanders move within a point of the Senators, while the Rangers move 2 back of Ottawa and 2 up on 9th place Winnipeg. Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves for the shutout while Evgeni Nabokov stopped the first 28 shots he faced before Girardi finally beat him.
- The Capitals recovered from a third period collapse to defeat the Lightning 6-5 in overtime. Washington opened up a 5-1 lead 5 minutes into the second, but Tampa scored 4 times in the last 22 minutes to get a point. Alex Ovechkin and Eric Fehr each had a goal and an assist. Mike Green scored the OT winner to avoid the Capitals really blowing the opportunity to move 4 points up on the Jets for first in the Southeast. Richard Panik had two goals and an assist and Taylor Pyatt had three assists in the Lightning comeback that fell just short.
- Carolina kept the Bruins from overtaking the Habs for first in the Northeast by scoring twice in the third to break a 2-2 tie and go on to win 4-2. Jiri Tlusty scored twices, with Jeff Skinner, and Joe Corvo also hitting the scoresheet. Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin had the Boston goals.
- Brenden Morrow scored twice and added an assist in Pittsburgh’s 3-1 win over the Panthers. The Penguins played without Evgeni Malkin, who it was rumored was a scratch due to severe sunburn. Kris Letang scored the other Pittsburgh goal, while Scottie Upshall scored for the Panthers, who were mathematically eliminated with the loss.
- Colorado scored twice in the last 7:03 to upend the Canucks 4-3. Gabriel Landeskog, Cody McLeod, P.A. Parenteau and Jan Hejda scored for Colorado, who are playing for nothing but pride. Maxim Lapierre, Jannik Hansen and Jason Garrison scored for Vancouver in the losing effort, but still remain 5 points up on the Wild for first in the Northwest.
- Columbus moved into an 8th place tie with Detroit and Dallas with a 3-2 shootout win over the Wild. Mark Letestu and Cam Atkinson scored in the shootout to give them the win after Artem Anisimov had a goal and an assist in regulation to give them the win. Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist for the Wild in the loss.
- Dallas got goals from Eric Nystrom and Alex Chiasson in the first 7 minutes and hung on to beat the Sharks 2-1. Brent Burns had the Sharks goal. Dallas knocks Detroit out of a playoff spot by virtue of the regulation/OT win tiebreaker.
- Mikael Backlund scored 26 seconds in and the Flames went on to beat the Oilers 4-1. Max Reinhart scored his first career goal in the win for the Flames, with Sven Baertschi and Dennis Wideman also counting for Calgary. Lennart Petrell scored for the Oilers.
- Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist and Mike Richards had the winner in LA’s 2-1 win over the Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf had the lone Anaheim goal, a shorthanded marker. Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for the win as the teams combined for only 39 shots on goal. The Kings move 3 points up on San Jose for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
That concludes our tour around a busy night in the NHL. Things slow down on Sunday, with just 3 games on the schedule including Chicago visiting St. Louis and Detroit looking to get back into a playoff spot when they visit Nashville.