Last Night's Game Action
Flyers 4, Rangers 2: Wayne Simmonds continued his strong play with a sweet power-play goal between Henrik Lundqvist's legs, an assist, three shots on goal, and six hits on the afternoon, while his teammates Vincent Lecavalier, Sean Couturier, and Luke Schenn also added goals for the Flyers. Derick Brassard scored on the power-play for the Rangers and Chris Kreider kept them in it with a goal, two shots, one blocked shot, and a hit. Rick Nash and Brad Richards each had an assist and three shots on goal in the losing effort. In somewhat surprising news, New York now appears willing to go to six years and $36M to keep Ryan Callahan.
Injury update: Derek Dorsett returned with four hits, one shot, one blocked shot, and two penalty minutes in 8:42 on the ice; it was his first game back for the Rangers since January 3rd.
Blackhawks 5, Penguins 1: The snow proved to be much harder to battle than the Penguins on Saturday night at Soldier Field. Jonathan Toews notched two goals and an assist, Kris Versteeg scored his 100th career goal, and Patrick Sharp found the back of the net in the blowout. With his second five-goal loss in back-to-back games, perhaps Marc-Andre Fleury was hoping the mini-blizzard would just bury him into hiding. But it was not all his fault, as his defense was primarily non-existent. James Neal "scored" the only goal for Pittsburgh. And by "scored," I mean Brent Seabrook accidentally knocked the puck into his own goal and Neal was credited with the point. He did have seven shots on goal and three hits, though. It was messy out there.
Injury Update: Jesus Marian Hossa endured an upper-body injury in the first period after a hard hit, left the game, and did not return. After the game, Coach Quenneville said that "Hossa might miss some time . . . but we'll know more in a couple of days. But not long term." So take that for what it is - ambiguous and disappointing, but not soul-crushing?
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Capitals 4, Bruins 2: Alex Ovechkin scored two power-play goals - the first for his 800th career point - impressing Tuukka Rask in the process and keeping Washington in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot. Joel Ward and Eric Fehr also added goals, while Braden Holtby had 36 saves for the Capital's fourth-straight win. Although it was only the second time Boston has lost in regulation over the past 13 games, they fell behind early and big in this one, and goals by Patrice Bergeron and Shawn Thornton were not enough to make a difference.
Injury update: Mikhail Grabovski and Martin Erat remain out with injuries for Washington. Grabovski has returned to Washington for further evaluation, while Erat tried to skate during warm-ups but quickly came off the ice.
Devils 6, Islanders 1: Jaromir Jagr found the back of the net on Saturday and with it, his 700th career goal, only the 7th player in NHL history to reach the mark. He now trails only Mike Gartner (708), Phil Esposito (717), Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741), Gordie Howe (801) and Wayne Gretzky (894) on the all-time list. This one was never close. After Adam Henrique put the Devils on the board with a power-play goal, Jagr scored early in the second, followed by three goals in less than five minutes from Ryane Clowe, Marek Zidlicky, and Mark Fayne. Patrick Elias had two assists and Eric Gelinas chipped in a power-play goal with 38.1 seconds left to round out the scoring for New Jersey. Kyle Okposo, who leads the Isles with 25 goals, kept Strong Island from being shut out, beating Brodeur in the second period.
Injury/Suspension update: Travis Hamonic has been suspended one game for instigating a fight with Ryan Carter, while Islanders Coach Jack Capuano has been fined $10,000. Damien Brunner missed Saturday's game with leg pain and teammate Bryce Salvador was scratched because of a bruised collarbone. Both should return to action shortly.
Blue Jackets 6, Panthers 3: With Derek MacKenzie in the penalty box, Artem Anisimov scored a short-handed goal as the second period came to a close, propelling Columbus to a much-needed victory. More impressively, his team was three-for-four on the power play, with David Savard, Cam Atkinson, and R.J. Umberger lighting the lamp with the help of Jack Johnson, who had three assists. Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert added empty-netters. The Panthers continued their free-fall, dropping their fourth in a row and seventh of the past eight. Shawn Mathias and Nick Bjugstad each had a goal and an assist for Florida.
Injury Update: Fedor Tyutin is expected to miss two-to-three weeks with the ankle injury he suffered in Sochi.
Jets 3, Predators 1: Ondrej Pavelec stayed hot on Saturday, making 39 saves and holding Nashville scoreless on six power-play chances. Jacob Trouba lasered a long pass to Olli Jokinen early in the second, and then Andrew Ladd pushed the lead to 2-0 with less than two minutes left in the period after he tipped in a Zach Bogosian slap shot. Simon Moser scored the only goal for the Predators, the very first of his NHL career, but Devin Steoguchi added insurance late in the third to ice the game for Winnipeg.
Lightning 4, Stars 2: The Martin St. Louis "Start Spreading the News Farewell Tampa Tour" continues to roll along, with the entertainer scoring two goals for the second straight night. While the 38-year-old may have requested a trade, I do not know why the Lightning would let their leading scorer slip away in the playoff hunt when he has been absolutely en fuego even without Steven Stamkos. Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat chipped in two assists apiece, Ben Bishop was awesome, and Nate Thompson and Sami Salo scored for Tampa Bay. Much to my annoyance, Kari Lehtonen sucked, only making 17 saves. Antoine Roussel and Vernon Fiddler, however, each added a goal and an assist for Dallas.
Injury Update: Defenseman Brenden Dillon, one of my favorite deep-league goons, was scratched because of a lower-body injury.
Kings 3, Hurricanes 1: Congratulations Mike Richards on your second goal since November. You are a beast. Defenseman Robyn Regehr had a nice game with an assist, four shots, two PIMs, and three hits. Alex Martinez played hero, breaking a 1-1 tie on a feed from Dustin Brown with 11:45 left in the game, and Justin Williams later added an empty-net goal for the Kings' fourth-straight win. Carolina, on the other hand, has lost four in a row. Anton Khudobin was solid, only allowing two goals, but he has lost two of the past three games, leaving the door open for Cam Ward to make a comeback. Andrej Sekera was the lone bright spot, putting the Hurricanes on the board with 15 seconds remaining in the first period.
Injury Update: While Alexander Semin sat again with a lower-body injury, he could return as early as Sunday. Fingers crossed.
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT): The Battle of America's Hat was a thriller with Max Pacioretty scoring on the power-play with less than two minutes left in overtime; Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban earned assists on the game-winning play. It was Pacioretty's second goal of the game. Andrei Markov had three assists, while Subban added a power-play goal and four shots in nearly 27 minutes on the ice. Toronto received two goals, three shots, and two PIMs from James Van Reimsdyk, along with a goal, an assist, six shots, one blocked shot, and two PIMs from Phil Kessel.
Flames 2, Oilers 1 (OT): If you are looking for some cheap goals, take a chance on rookie center Sean Monahan. He has been streaky this season, but can pour on the points (18 goals, 8 assists). Last night, he scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime, to go with 1:21 of power-play time. Mark Giordano had an assist, six shots on goal, two blocked shots, and two PIMs. David Perron had four hits and scored for Edmonton, who has gone 0-for-19 on the power-play in the last six games; Perron leads the sad Oilers in goals with 23 on the season.
Injury Update: Lee Stempniak spawned children, two of them at the same time, and was forced to miss the game to be with his wife, the twin bearer. Karri Ramo and Curtis Glencross remained out for Calgary with lower-body injuries. And Nail Yakupov is out indefinitely after injuring his foot in Thursday's loss; this is probably a boon to your +/- rating.
Random News & Notes:
Erik Johnson: The defenseman will return tonight after serving a two-game suspension for breaking Frans Nielsen's hand after a particularly violent slash in February. He only forfeited $38,461 in salary, while Nielsen is expected to miss a month.
Ryan Kesler: Trade rumors are heating up in Vancouver with Pittsburgh "aggressively" targeting Kesler as their top choice, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Canucks would like to move the forward for a big return, but are not willing to settle for a weak package. Right now, the deal that is being proposed is: Brandon Sutter, a first and third-round pick in the 2014 draft, and Vancouver's choice between Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin.
Pat LaFontaine: After only four months on the job, LaFontaine abruptly resigned as President of Hockey Operations for the Buffalo Sabres only one day after the blockbuster trade of Ryan Miller. According to TVA Sports, the swap with St. Louis was the "last straw" for LaFontaine, who had hoped to give Miller an extension. Instead, the team went with the advice of GM Tim Murray, who wanted to ship the goalie out in a rebuilding effort. Ryan Miller says "It's been real. It's been fun. It just hasn't been real fun. Farewell."
Paul Stastny: Could he be on the move? As an unrestricted free-agent this summer, Stastny could be headed out of Colorado if the Avalanche do not feel they can re-sign the stud by Wednesday's trade deadline. As per the Denver Post, they would like to keep their core group together, but fear losing Stastny for nothing in return on the market. Personally, I would love to see him on the Rangers, along with Martin St. Louis. Thanks.