I am back from the Caribbean, rolling along in the hockey playoffs so far, and beyond excited for the weekend, when baseball (my true love) begins. On Sunday, I will return to my usual Daily Dosage slot, but until then, let's discuss all of last night's craziness....
Devils 4, Wild 3 (OT): Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias each had three assists, and both set up the game-winner in overtime by Andy Greene. With their playoff hopes dwindling (five points back, 12 games left), New Jersey also got goals from Michael Ryder, Jaromir Jagr, and Mark Fayne. Zach Parise found the back of the net in his first game back for Minnesota, who also saw goals from Mikael Granlund and Matt Cooke, as well as two helpers from Jared Spurgeon. More importantly, Parise was booed each and every time he touched the puck.
Flyers 4, Stars 2: As a Kari Lehtonen owner, I must confess that when the Stars acquired Tim Thomas, I thought both veterans would inspire greatness in one another. But I was not happy, because I figured Lehtonen would lose starts to Thomas down the stretch. I had no idea, however, that I would be pissed because they are now both godawful. Thomas got pulled early on Sunday, Lehtonen gave up five goals on Tuesday, and then we had this follow-up gem by Thomas. Wayne Simmonds had two goals, one on the power play, along with three shots, four hits, two penalty minutes, and two takeaways. Improbably, Philly is now 11-2-1 in the last 14 games. Jamie Benn did not suck for Dallas, notching two goals, seven shots, two blocked shots, and a hit.
Blue Jackets 3, Canadiens 2: A close contest throughout, Ryan Johansen and Columbus finally broke a 2-2 tie with 3:01 left in the game. Although Montreal received a treasure trove of minor penalties, the Blue Jackets could not convert, going 0-for-8 on the power play (and 0-for-their-last-26-chances). Derek MacKenzie and Brandon Dubinsky rounded out the scoring, while the Canadiens received goals from Brendan Gallagher and party animal Thomas Vanek. The Blue Jackets remain tied with the Rangers for third-place in the Metro Division and seem headed for the playoffs; they will determine their own destiny during a five-game stretch next week when they take on the Penguins, Avalanche, Flyers, and Blackhawks.
Lightning 5, Senators 4: Ryan Callahan tallied a power-play goal, Teddy Purcell added two goals, and Valteri Filpulla joined the scoring party as Tampa Bay outdueled Ottawa. With Steven Stamkos relatively quiet (six shots, no points, but five goals in the past five games), the Lightning found help from everyone else; they seem to be coming together at the perfect time. Ottawa has lost five straight, but saw goals from Clarke MacArthur, Erik Karlsson, Ales Hemsky, and Milan Michalek.
Red Wings 5, Penguins 4 (OT): Marc-Andre Fleury, why do you hate my Virgins? Why do you insist on gifting your opponents with five goals during every big match-up I have this season? Granted, the Penguins knocked the puck into their own net three times during the game. THREE TIMES. I am not bitter at all, I swear. Daniel Alfredsson scored two goals, including the weird game-winner with less than one second remaining in overtime (see below). Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist also scored for Detroit, while David Legwand was ejected with less than four minutes in regulation for jamming his stick into Evgeni Malkin's stomach. Malkin scored twice on the night, including the go-ahead goal in the second period, and Lee Stempniak remained en fuego with another goal, his second in the past two games and his eighth point in the past eight.
Sabres 3, Oilers 1: The Sabres won, which I am pretty sure says more about the Oilers. Nevertheless, huge disappointment Cory Conacher scored two goals, ending Buffalo's seven-game losing streak, and Drew Stafford later tacked on insurance. Taylor Hall had the lone goal for Edmonton on an assist from Justin Schultz.
Coyotes 2, Panthers 1: With a hard-fought and much-needed victory on Thursday night, along with a loss by Dallas, Phoenix remained four points ahead of the Stars for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. They received two first-period goals from Radim Vrbata and Antoine Vermette, then shut out the Panthers until 4:08 left in the game, when Chris Gomez put Florida on the board. Mike Smith was excellent. Again. He has a 1.92 GAA and .936 SV% in the past 14 games and has played a huge role in the Coyotes' playoff push.
Kings 2, Capitals 1 (SO): Just the 18th coach in NHL history to do so, Darryl Sutter won his 500th game last night behind Marian Gaborik's shootout winner. Gaborik also had an assist on Anze Kopitar's first-period goal, but Joel Ward later tied the game with help from Nicklas Backstrom. It was a night of celebration for Los Angeles, as Jonathan Quick, now 171-115 in seven seasons, tied Rogie Vachan for the most goaltending wins in Kings' history.
Sharks 3, Ducks 2: The Sharks clawed (finned?) their way into first-place on Thursday - which is rather remarkable considering they trailed by 13 points on January 15th - behind strong play from the streaky Brent Burns, who assisted on Joe Thornton's game-tying goal, crushed Corey Perry with a huge hit, and later won the game with less than four minutes left in the third period. Fantasy hockey boyfriend Patrick Marleau also added a goal, while Teemu Selanne and Mathieu Perreault scored for Anaheim, losers of six of their past eight games.