With only 4 games in the NHL, there was a big shift in the Western Conference race while the two teams battling for Northeast Division supremacy both lost, under different circumstances. Here is a quick tour around the league:
- It was an emotional night in Boston, as the Bruins and Sabres played the first game in the city since the terrible tragedy on Monday afternoon. But the games must go on and after an emotional anthem, the teams got down to business. Daniel Paille and Thomas Vanek exchanged first period goals, Chris Kelly scored to but the Bruins ahead in the second and that held up until Cody Hodgson sent the game to extra time with just 27 seconds left. A shootout was required, and Drew Stafford was the only sho0ter able to find twine as the Sabres took the game 3-2. The point clinches a playoff spot for the Bruins while the win kept Buffalo with a tiny glimmer of playoff hope, although with just 4 games left, 2 points and the tiebreak might be too much to overcome, especially since the Rangers have 2 games in hand.
- Montreal is reeling, losing their third straight game, allowing 5 or more each time in that stretch. Peter Budaj got the start and allowed 3 Penguins goals on just 9 shots before Carey Price came in and allowed 3 on 20 shots in the 6-4 Penguins win. Brenden Morrow and Brandon Sutter each had a pair for the Pens, with Jarome Iginla and Douglas Murray each potting one. Gabriel Dumont‘s first career NHL goal was the lone bright spot for the Habs, who were down 4-0 at one point. Brian Gionta, Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov had the other Montreal goals.
- Steve Begin broke a 1-1 tie early in the third period and then scored what would prove to be the game winner later in the period shorthanded as the Flames dealt Detroit a tough blow, downing the Wings 3-2. Lee Stempniak had the first goal for the Flames, and was answered by Gustav Nyquist in the second before Begin took over. Johan Franzen had one late for Detroit, but they could not get the equalizer in the last two minutes.
- Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin had the overtime winner as the Blue Jackets vaulted past the Wings into 8th place with a 3-2 win over the Ducks. Sami Vatanen‘s first career goal gave the Ducks the lead in the first, but tied it up late in the second. David Steckel put the Ducks back on top in the third, but again the Blue Jackets answered back, this time courtesy Matt Calvert. That set the stage for Tyutin, who tipped in the shot after a great effort from Nick Foligno to gain the zone and dipsy-doodle long enough to get traffic in front.
That concludes our tour around the NHL. Thursday has 10 games on the menu, including the Senators hosting the red hot Capitals in a potential first round preview, and the first of 2 between the teams in 8 days. The Islanders visit Toronto, Rangers host the Panthers and the Carolina travels to Winnipeg as the East playoff picture could clear up some tonight….or could be even muddier. Check back tomorrow for a full recap of all the action and implications.