There were 10 games in the NHL Tuesday night, which ended up being a crazy evening in the NHL. Non-playoff teams dominated their opponents who were headed to the dance in the East (except for one, to the benefit of the Ottawa Senators), while two more Western Conference teams punched their playoff tickets and one took one giant step closer. Here is a quick tour around the league.
- The Canadiens lost for the 5th time in 6 games, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Devils. Patrik Elias, Jacob Josefson and Steve Sullivan put the Devils up 3-0 before Montreal scratched back on goals from Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller. However, the Habs could get no closer in the last 20 minutes and failed to seize the opportunity to take over first in the Northeast Division.
- Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and an assist to help the Capitals deal the Jets a flat tire in the playoff race for 8th. Matt Hendricks had the other Washington goal, as the Caps clinch the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Southeast Division with the win. Winnipeg, meanwhile, is in deep trouble as they remain a point out of 8th, and the Rangers (2) and Senators (3) have games in hand over Winnipeg’s lone remaining contest. Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler and Nik Antropov had the Jets goals.
- John Tavares forced extra time with 61 seconds left to get the Islanders a point, but the Hurricanes scored twice the shootout to defeat New York 4-3. With the point, the Islanders clinch a playoff spot and move within a point of Toronto for the 5th seed in the East. Brad Boyes and Josh Bailey had the other New York goals, while Alexander Semin, Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer scored for the Hurricanes.
- Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the lineup for the Penguins, but the Sabres scored 2 late goals to beat the conference leading Pens 4-2. Steve Ott broke a 2-2- tie with 2:34 left and Thomas Vanek scored into an empty net for his second of the game as the Sabres snapped the Penguins winning streak at 7. The Penguins have lost 3 times in the past 25 games, and it was the Sabres who stopped Penguins streaks twice. Chris Kunitz and Jarome Iginla had the Penguins goals.
- Philadelphia got goals from 5 different players as they beat the Bruins 5-2. Boston failed to put separation between themselves and the Canadiens, and remain tied in points in the race for the #2 seed and the Northeast Division title. Oliver Lauridsen scored his first career goal for the Flyers, while Matt Read, Scott Hartnell, Jakob Voracek and Simon Gagne also scored. Wade Redden scored his first as a Bruin, and David Krejci scored for Boston.
- The Rangers dropped into the 8th seed with a 3-2 loss to the Panthers. Drew Shore‘s 130 foot short-handed empty netter turned out to be the game winner as the Rangers pulled the goalie to get the 6 on 4 advantage with under two minutes left and it backfired. The Rangers did get one back after that, but it wasn’t enough. Tomas Fleischmann and Marcel Goc had the other Panthers goals, while Taylor Pyatt and Derick Brassard scored for he Rangers.
- St. Louis clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 win over the Avalanche. Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald powered the Blues, while Brian Elliott needed to make only 17 saves for the win. Cody McLeod scored the only goal for the Avalanche.
- The Flames scratched a lot of their veterans including Matt Stajan, Curtis Glencross, Michael Cammalleri, Alex Tanguay and Lee Stempniak but still almost managed to beat the Predators. Nashville ended up winning 4-3, but allowed 3 Calgary goals on just 18 shots. Austin Watson scored his first career NHL goal for the Predators, while David Legwand, Matt Halischuk and Nick Spaling had the others. Calgary’s Roman Cervenka had a pair and T.J. Brodie had the other. You might think that the Flames might get a call from the league about icing a competitive lineup, but hey, they only lost by one so does it really matter?
- Minnesota got all of their offense in a 16 second span in the first period, but it was enough as they held on to beat the Kings 2-1. Charlie Coyle and Cal Clutterbuck did the damage on Jonathan Bernier, while Niklas Backstrom allowed only a Jeff Carter goal in the second period on 23 shots to give the Wild a much needed win. Seventh place Minnesota moves 2 points up on Columbus and 3 up on Detroit in the race for the last playoff spots.
- Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored 30 seconds apart in the final 6 minutes as the Sharks clinched a playoff spot, and dealt the Stars hopes of a postseason appearance a severe blow with a 3-2 win over Dallas. Raffi Torres had opened the scoring for San Jose, but the Sharks fell behind after Antoine Roussel and Loui Eriksson scored for Dallas. The Stars are now 3 points back with 2 to play, and they have to pass 2 teams. Does not look good for the boys from Big D.
Thank concludes our tour around a very eventful NHL for Tuesday night. There are only 4 games on Wednesday night, but a huge game for the Wings as they try to jump past the Blue Jackets back into 8th with a win over the Kings in the only game with any make or break playoff implications. The Leafs can move within 2 points of the Canadiens and Bruins with a win over Lightning. The Blackhawks visit the Oilers with a chance to clinch the President’s Trophy as the regular season champions. Check back tomorrow for a recap of all the action.