Not surprisingly, all five games had an impact on the playoff races yesterday, but some had a little more than others. It was also a bit of a strange day, not because of what happened, but because of the fact that Sunday was a busier day in the league than Monday will be.
The Night that Was:
Six weeks ago I’d be crazy for saying this, but now it might be possible. The Washington Capitals and Chciago Blackhawks hooked up in what is one of a number of possible Stanley Cup finals matchups, and it was truly one to watch. Washington overcame a 1-0 deficit in the first and scored late to take a 2-1 lead to the second. Chicago tied it in the middle frame but Brooks Laich put Washington up 3-2 in the third period. With just 39 seconds left though, Jonathan Toews scored his 29th of the season to send the game to overtime where Washington dominated. The Caps fired six shots on net to the ‘Hawks zero, and Mike Knuble’s 16th sent the fans home happy with a 4-3 win. Dennis Wideman had two assists, giving him his first multi-point game as a Cap as Washington is now just one point back of first in the East.
The Los Angeles Kings continued their ascension of the Western Conference with a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars yesterday. The Kings hurdled Dallas and now lead them by a point for fourth in the conference with their third-straight win thanks to two assists from Alex Ponikarovsky. With a 2-1 lead though, the Kings looked like they might be in trouble as Jamie Langenbrunner scored with just 43 seconds left to tie the game. But it’s never over until the horn goes, and Michael Handzus proved that. Handzus scored his tenth of the season with just 21 seconds left in the game to give Jonathan Quick wins in each of his last two starts.
If you like goals, then Buffalo and Ottawa were for you. With the Sabres going to back-up Jhonas Enroth, Ottawa took advantage and put up four goals in hopes of slowing the Sabres’ playoff aspirations. Buffalo was good for six of their own though, as Enroth was credited with the 6-4 win. Defenseman Mike Weber had three assists and Tyler Ennis had his second two-goal game of the season, while five other Sabres had multiple points. Jason Spezza stole the show in the losing effort though, as with 2 goals and 2 assists he was in on all of the Sens’ offense while Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist, giving him his first-career 40-point season. Buffalo is now tied with the New York Rangers for seventh with both teams four points up on Carolina. The victory was heart-wrenching for the Sabres as Rick Martin passed away Sunday afternoon. The team dedicated the win to Martin as well as holding a moment of silence pre-game.
Two Corey Perry goals weren’t enough for the Anaheim Ducks to earn a win last night. Lauri Korpikoski had two goals and Shane Doan had a three-point night in the Coyotes 5-2 win over Anaheim. It wasn’t all bad for Anaheim though. Ray Emery made his first appearance of the season and stopped all nine shots he faced in his period (17 minutes) of action and defensemen Cam Fowler (1 assist for a 30-point season in his rookie year) and Lubomir Visnovsky (1 assist for his 56th point of the season) got in on the action despite the loss. Phoenix is tied for fourth in the West with LA while Anaheim is two points out of eighth.
-The Pittsburgh Penguins clobbered the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Chris Kunitz had two goals and Tyler Kennedy had three assists in the win.
What’s on Tonight?
Three games in the NHL on Monday: Toronto continues the playoff push as they host Tampa Bay, San Jose and Chicago hook up with identical records over their last ten (7-1-2), and Vancouver hosts Minnesota.
The Injury Bug:
-Jochen Hecht missed the third period of Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury. Hecht had missed four games before that with another uppder-body injury, but there’s no word if this is an aggravation.
-Keep an eye on Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien. He suffered a lower-body injury last Wednesday and then left Saturday’s game limping. His status is up in the air for Atlanta’s game tomorrow.
-Mikko Koivu is a game-time decision tonight. He’s been on the IR since February 19th with a broken finger. Cal Clutterbuck is suffering from headaches making him doubtful tonight, but so far no official labelling as a “concussion”.
-The Montreal Canadiens will be without Brent Sopel for an undisclosed amount of time. Sopel is suffering from a broken hand.
-Kris Letang left last night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Letang was charged by Gilbert Brule in the third period, was slow to get up and didn’t return.
News and Rumours from Around the League:
-A member of the French Connection line has passed away. Former Buffalo Sabre Rick Martin passed away at age 59 yesterday. It was reported that he suffered a heart attack while driving.
-The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which owns 66% of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is contemplating selling its share in the team. The sale would incorporate the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, FC, and Marlies.
Fantasy Line of the Night:
If it weren’t for Jason Spezza, the Sens would have been shelled by the Buffalo Sabres. The Sens’ forward had two goals and two assists, one of the goals coming on the powerplay, and won 18 of 28 faceoffs. He finished the night with a plus-one rating.