A Day in the NHL: Thursday March 17


So I guess a ‘Happy St. Patrick’s’ day is in order? Hopefully you’re all enjoying the festivities over some green drink and some high-scoring hockey action. Unlike the last few nights though, yesterday was pretty tame goal-wise.

The Night that Was:

Toronto continues to give their fans hope that they’re playoff bound. Captain Dion Phaneuf led by example last night, scoring two of his team’s three goals and assisting on the other one as the Leafs’ earned a 3-1 win. Rookie James Reimer made his 16th-straight appearance and made 36 saves, out-duelling Cam Ward, as Chad Larose was the only man to beat him. Nazem Kadri and Matt Lashoff were both held scoreless in their returns to the NHL, as the Leafs are now four points out of eighth while the Hurricanes are two out of the last playoff spot. Toronto wins, 3-1.

Alexander Ovechkin’s 29th of the year wasn’t enough for Washington as Henrik Zetterberg made it six-straight years with at least 20 goals with two of his own, helping Detroit to a 3-2 win. Zetterberg’s second of the game came on a power play in the third as he broke a 2-2 tie, with Michal Neuvirth starting the second of games in back-to-back nights for the Caps. The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Caps who remain one point out of first in the East, while Detroit is second in the West.

While Nathan Oystrick scored his first NHL goal since 2008/09, it wasn’t enough for St. Louis. Anaheim got two goals out of Jason Blake to secure a 2-1 win. Speaking of guys we haven’t seen in the NHL for a long time, Ray Emery made his first start and second-straight appearance for the Ducks, earning his first NHL win since last year. Anaheim crept into an eighth-place tie with Calgary, while they also have two games at hand on the Flames.

Not only are they the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff spot, but the Canucks are the first team to clinch their division as well. Down 2-0 after one, Vancouver scored one in the second and three in the third for the 4-2 win. Max Lapierre scored his first as a Canuck to get things started while the Sedin Twins added a pair of goals (Henrik) and assists (Daniel). Cory Schneider made 27 saves for the win.

What’s on Tonight?

Another busy night. Atlanta hosts Philly, Detroit heads over to Columbus, Tampa Bay meets up with the Habs in Montreal, and New Jersey takes on Ottawa. Toronto plays their second of back-to-back games in Florida, Boston will see former division foe Mike Fisher in Nashville, Chicago will lock horns with Dallas, and it’s Colorado vs. Calgary. The Coyotes head to Edmonton, the Blues play their second of back-to-backs in Los Angeles, and Minnesota meets San Jose.

The Injury Bug:

-Nicklas Backstrom didn’t play last night for Washington and if he doesn’t play Friday, expect him to come back on Tuesday from his broken thumb.

-Jonas Hiller has been practicing and looking good in practice, but still no word on a possible return for the Ducks.

-Zach Parise is apparently close to returning to practice and hopes to play again this year, while Sidney Crosby had an off-day with the team yesterday after skating the first two of this week. Daymond Langkow was also at Flames’ practice yesterday.

News and Rumours:

-Dany Heatley received a two-game suspension for his hit on Dallas’ Steve Ott, while Brad Marchand has his hearing scheduled for today.

-Toronto Maple Leafs’ Assistant GM Dave Nonis is expected to be named the GM for Canada’s entrant into the World Championships.

-Get your cheque books out…the St. Louis Blues are for sale.

The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:

While it would be nice to give it to Dion Phaneuf’s three points, it’s going to Ray Emery. Emery made 30 saves for the Ducks, and has made 39 of 40 saves since returning to the league.