A Day in the NHL: Devils Shorthanded Dominance, Caps and Pens Classic

The Night that Was:

While Alex Ovechkin is slumping offensively and Sidney Crosby is out of the lineup, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals rivalry didn’t lack excitement in its latest installment. During a game full of physicality, it was Jason Chimera’s 14th that opened the scoring 15:25 into the first. Pittsburgh wouldn’t rest down one, out-shooting the Caps 11-6 in the second, but they couldn’t solve Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun would be just as good in the third period, stopping all 10 shots thrown his way for a 30-save shutout in Washington’s 1-0 win. Vokoun snapped a two-game losing streak after winning four straight, as the Capitals moved into a tie with Pittsburgh for 8th in the East.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an outlet that wasn’t making a big deal out of New Jersey visiting Edmonton, as former junior teammates and Memorial Cup champions Adam Henrique and Taylor Hall squared off. After a scoreless first where Edmonton outshot the Devils 9-4, New Jersey turned the tables and outshot Edmonton 10-6 in the second, and Ilya Kovalchuk scored a shorthanded goal (the Devils’ 4th straight game with a shorty) for a 1-0 lead. Ales Hemsky would tie it midway through the third on a power play, and things would stay tied and head to overtime. A Corey Potter penalty carried over into the extra frame, and on the power play Zach Parise would score his 15th with help from Patrick Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk for a 2-1 New Jersey win. Johan Hedberg made 22 saves for the victory, while Kovalchuk finished with multiple points for his fourth-straight game.

What’s on Tonight?

Well the premier matchup of the evening is the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins in Boston. Philadelphia takes on the Islanders in Long Island, Ottawa visits the Rangers, Carolina heads to Tampa Bay, and the Phoenix Coyotes stop by in Detroit to visit the Red Wings. Vancouver continues their road swing in St. Louis, Colorado stops off in Nashville, and the San Jose Sharks try to tame the Jets and raucous Winnipeg crowd. Minnesota and Chicago hook up, Calgary welcomes Anaheim to town, and Dallas stops by in Los Angeles.

The Injury Bug:

-Sidney Crosby was spotted in the press box last night, joining the Penguins on the road. Crosby is set to skate on his own during the road trip.

-In other Penguins news, Dustin Jeffrey was activated off of IR yesterday, while Simon Despres was placed on Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury.

-Brian Gionta tore his right bicep during Tuesday’s game and went through surgery for it yesterday. There is no timetable for Gionta’s return.

-Pierre-Marc Bouchard refuses to even consider that his career might be in jeopardy thanks to another concussion. Bouchard has yet to return to working out, although he is positive a comeback is in the cards.

-Jeff Skinner has been cleared for contact with the Carolina Hurricanes. He has missed 14 games with a concussion.

-Jonas Hiller continues to be troubled by a lower-body injury suffered on Sunday. Hiller has yet to return to the ice and there is no timetable for his return.

-The Washington Capitals have placed forward Nicklas Backstrom on injured reserve.

News, Notes, and Rumours

-The mid-season rankings were released yesterday for the 2012 NHL draft. Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting (OHL) was the top-rated North American skater while Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls was the top North American goalie. Ryan Murray of Everett (WHL) was the top-ranked North American defenseman. Filip Forsberg was the top-rated European skater with Andrei Vasilevski was the top European goalie.

-In a Sports Illustrated poll, Dion Phaneuf was named the most overrated player in the NHL. Alex Ovechkin, Scott Gomez, Roberto Luongo and Dany Heatley made the top five.

The Overlooked Fantasy Line(s) of the Night:

Ilya Kovlchuk’s fourth-straight multiple-point game gets some recognition to go along with a plus-one rating and six shots, while the winning goalies earn the nods as well. Backup Johan Hedberg had 22 saves in his 2-1 win, while Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season.

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