Just four games in the NHL last night, with most of the teams having trouble offensively as five teams had two or fewer goals. A couple of playoff positions were decided as well.
The Night that Was:
The Vancouver Canucks became the first team in the NHL to 50 wins this season with their 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Chris Higgins scored two goals, including his first with the Canucks and added an assist while the Sedins and Ryan Kessler hooked up on a power play goal that turned out to be the game-winner. RJ Umberger had the only goal for Columbus, as 39 of the 40 shots they threw at Cory Schneider got turned away by the rookie as he won his 15th game of the season. Columbus is 2-5-3 in their last ten and could be destined for another top-ten pick, while the Canucks have a nine point lead over their closest competition for the President’s Trophy.
Philadelphia is that competition with 100 points on the season, but it was a seven-point different at the beginning of the day. The Flyers found themselves locked in a gritty battle with the Boston Bruins, which they were leading until partway through the second when Nathan Horton’s 23rd tied things up. Brad Marchand scored the 20th goal of his rookie season to lock up the win for Tim Thomas, who continues to make a leading case for the Vezina award. Krist Versteeg’s goal was the only one of 28 shots Thomas missed on, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves in the 2-1 loss.
Philly’s loss was Pittsburgh’s gain, as the Penguins moved within two points of the East and Atlantic Division-leading Flyers with their 2-1 shootout win over Florida. Ryan Carter and Ben Lovejoy traded their third goals of the season in the second period to send things to shooters tied at one. Tomas Vokoun stopped 23 of 24 shots in regulation, but didn’t finish the game, exciting in the third intermission due to stiffness in his back. Scott Clemmensen came in and stopped four shots in OT as he and Marc-Andre Fleury each faced three shooters in the shootout. Fleury, who went 37-of-38 in regulation, went 3-for-3 in the shootout, while Clemmensen gave up two, one to Alex Kovalev and the other to James Neal.
The highest scoring game belonged to the Ottawa Senators and the Atlanta Thrashers. With a 5-4, shootout final, the Thrashers pushed their record to 6-3-1 in their last ten, but that probably won’t be enough for the playoffs. Blake Wheeler had a good afternoon with one goal and one assist, while Ben Maxwell scored his first NHL goal in his 25th NHL game. Marek Svatos had a pair for Ottawa including the goal that sent it to overtime, as he, Maxwell, and Wheeler were the only players with multiple points in that game. Four a side went in the shootout, but the only man to capitalize was Atlanta Captain Andrew Ladd.
What’s on Tonight:
A Central Division clash when Chicago meets Detroit while the Colorado Avlanche and Anaheim Ducks meet up as well.
-Chris Osgood is hopeful that he’ll be back on the ice Tuesday or Wednesday and be more than ready to step into the lineup when he’s eligible to come off IR on April 8th.
-Sticking with Red Wings’ goalies, Joey MacDonald will be the starter while Jimmy Howard is out. An MRI showed that there is major damage to his shoulder, but the wings will roll with MacDonald and Thomas McCollum for the time being.
-Dan Hamhuis suffered the fourth concussion of his career in yesterday’s game. There’s no timetable for the Canucks’ defenseman’s return.
News and Rumours:
-Scary stuff on the Marc Savard front. A report came out Sunday morning that Savard was having “real memory problems and he’s quite worried about it” (The story and quotes were first attributed to an unnamed source, appearing through ESPN). Along with memory problems, Savard has reportedly said that he’s “tired all the time” and that things are “moving in slow motion”.
-The following teams have clinched playoff spots: Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Vancouver Canucks.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:
Marek Svatos’ two goals included the one that tied the game last night in Atlanta as he finished with a plus-two rating. Svatos finished the game with just two shots in 12 minutes of ice time. He has three goals in 16 games with the Sens.