There were 9 games outside of Ottawa’s 3-1 win over the Capitals, and the rest of the East kept pace in the battle for positioning below the Senators. Here is a quick recap of all the action.
- The Islanders scored 5 unanswered goals after the Maple Leafs scored on their first two shots to down Toronto 5-3. John Tavares made a case for the Hart Trophy with 2 goals and an assist while former Leaf Brad Boyes added a goal and two assists in the win. Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders, who remain a point behind Ottawa in 7th place. Toronto looked good early on goals from Joffrey Lupul and Cody Franson but couldn’t stem the tide and Dion Phaneuf‘s last minute goal wasn’t nearly enough for the Leafs. Toronto remains 5th, but just one point up on the Senators, who they will face in Ottawa on Saturday.
- The Rangers kept their tenuous hold on 8th place with a 6-1 dismantling of the Panthers. Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello each scored twice and Rick Nash added a goal and 2 assists for the winning Rangers, with Brad Richards netting the other goal. Jonathan Huberdeau scored the lone Panthers goal, as despite outshooting the Rangers 35-30 they could only beat Henrik Lundqvist once.
- The Jets kept pace with the Rangers and remain tied for the 8th spot with a 4-3 overtime win over the Hurricanes. Andrew Ladd had 3 assists, including one on Dustin Byfuglien‘s OT winner, and Blake Wheeler added a goal and two assists for the Jets. Zach Bogosian and Paul Postma had the other goals for the Jets, who blew a 2 goal 3rd period lead for the second straight game but still managed to win again. Tuomo Ruutu had a pair, and Alexander Semin scored the tying goal with less than 90 seconds left to force OT for Carolina.
- Carey Price made 31 saves to right the Canadiens’ ship a bit as Brian Gionta scored his second of the game in the last minute to give Montreal a 3-2 win over the Lightning. Alex Galchenyuk and Gionta had put the Habs up 2-0, but Richard Panik and Vincent Lecavalier evened the score, setting up Gionta’s heroics as the Habs snap their three game losing streak and move 2 points up on the Bruins for first in the Northeast Divsion.
- New Jersey snapped their 10 game losing streak and Martin Brodeur finally got win 667 as the Devils shut out the Flyers 3-0. It is too little, too late for the Devils, as being 6 points back having to pass 3 teams with only 5 games to play is an insurmountable task. Ryan Carter, Matt D’Agostini and Adam Henrique provided the offense in support of Brodeur’s 121st career shutout.
- Andy MacDonald scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Blues ended any hope of a Coyotes’ playoff berth with a 2-1 win over Phoenix. David Perron‘s mid first period goal held up until Radim Vrbata scored with 67 seconds left to force extra time and keep the hope alive. However, Brian Elliott stopped all three Coyotes shooters, and now 5 points back with 5 to play, it is lights out for Phoenix. St. Louis has now all but clinched a playoff spot and Elliott’s roller-coaster season continues.
- Dallas moved into a 9th place tie with the Red Wings by virtue of their 5-1 win over the Canucks. After former Star Derek Roy opened the scoring for the Canucks, Vern Fiddler evened it up before the second was out. Then Dallas scored 4 times in the third, with Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Ray Whitney and Erik Cole all beating Cory Schneider. The Wings and Stars both have 2 games in hand on the 8th place Blue Jackets because…
- Drew Doughty and Kyle Clifford scored for LA in their 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets, stopping Columbus from opening up a 4 point lead over 9th place in the West. Dalton Prout‘s first career NHL goal was all the offense Columbus could muster, and with 2 fewer games remaining their grip on an improbable playoff spot is slightly weakened.
- Logan Couture and Martin Havlat combined for 7 points in San Jose’s 6-1 win over the Wild. Couture had 2 goals and 2 assists while Havlat had 2 goals and an assist for the Sharks, with Raffi Torres and Joe Pavelski each added a goal and an assist. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had the only goal for the struggling Wild, who have won only 3 of their last 10, the fewest of amy playoff contender in the West.
That concludes our tour around the NHL, and with just 10 days left in the regular season, any game involving a playoff contender will be vital. On Friday, the Rangers play in Buffalo while the Stars visit the Blues, but all eyes will be on Boston where Pittsburgh pays a visit. It will be the first appearance in Boston for Jarome Iginla since the former Flames star snubbed the Bruins in favor of holding out for a trade to Pittsburgh. Should be an interesting reaction in Boston.