The Night that Was:
Last night in Tampa Bay it was the Jason Spezza show. After Erik Karlsson scored his 10th 1:04 into the first and the rest of the period passed by scoreless, Spezza added his 23rd with under four minutes to go in the second. 12:37 into the third Spezza made it two on the evening with his 24th, and he’d complete the hat-trick just as they reached the final minute of action. Spezza added an assist on Karlsson’s goal for four points, while Karlsson and Bobby Butler each had two points. Craig Anderson made 28 saves for the shutout and win number 26.
In a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams, the New York Rangers stopped by Boston to take on the Bruins. Ryan Callahan’s 23rd opened up the scoring between the two teams 10 minutes in before Ryan McDonagh made it 2-0 just as the first ended. A scoreless second passed as Boston outshot the Rangers 14-5 before Artem Anisimov’s 10th made it 3-0 early in the third. The Rangers would get outshot heavily again, 18-3, but Henrik Lundqvist shut the door on the Cup Champs, making 42 saves in a 3-0 shutout for the Rangers’ 4th-straight win. Tim Thomas made just 17 saves in the loss as Boston fell 9 points back in the race for first in the conference.
The struggles of the Buffalo Sabres continued last night as they hosted the New Jersey Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring late in the first with his 23rd on the power play to make it 1-0 Devils. Jason Pominville tied it up late in the second (21), but the third would be all devils. Petr Sykora’s 13th made it 2-1 1:44 in before Kovalchuk added two more for the 4-1 win. Kovalchuk added an assist for his own four-point night while Adam Henrique pitched in with two assists for his first multi-point game since January 10. Martin Brodeur made 29 saves for his 19th win of the season.
It’s no secret that Detroit went in to last night looking for an NHL record 21st straight home win, and things started well for the Wings. Henrik Zetterberg and Brad Stuart scored two minutes apart in the early stages of the first as the Wings went up 2-0 over Dallas. The second was scoreless between the two teams despite Detroit outshooting Dallas 11-6, before Jiri Hudler’s 18th made it 3-0. Adam Burish would spoil Joey MacDonald’s shutout bid, but the Wings still pulled off the 3-1 win, setting the record for consecutive home wins. Detroit has lost just twice at home all season and sits atop the league with 80 points.
The Rest of the Story
David Backes opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal before James Wisniewski tied it up with one second left in the first. There was no scoring in the second before Derek Dorsett scored in the third to give Columbus a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Steve Mason made 31 saves for the win.
The Minnesota Wild had an early lead thanks to Dany Heatley’s 19th, but they couldn’t hold it. After a scoreless second, Niklas Hagman and Corey Perry each scored third period goals for a 2-1 Ducks win. Jonas Hiller had to make just 17 saves for the win.
The Toronto Maple Leafs made a trip to Calgary last night, and they probably wish they hadn’t. Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen made it 2-0 before Tyler Bozak cut that lead in half. Paul Byron made it 3-1 in the second and Blake Comeau and Jarome Iginla sealed a 5-1 win. Tanguay (1g/2a) had 3 points while Iginla, Jokinen and Giordano all had two points. Miikka Kiprusoff mde 41 saves for the win.
Winnipeg welcomed the New York Islanders to town last night, and while things started well for the Jets, they didn’t end well. Chris Thorburn’s third had the Jets in front after one, but Matt Moulson’s 25th tied it in the second and PA Parenteau and Matt Martin added third period goals for the 3-1 win. Parenteau added an assist for two points as Evgeni Nabokov made 37 saves for the win.
Nasvhille and Chicago played a back and forth game last night between two Central Division foes. Ryan Suter opened the scoring late in the first before Bryan Bickell tied it up. Nick Spaling gave the Preds a 2-1 lead late in the second before Marian Hossa tied it up in the third. Despite mustering just three shots in the third, Ryan Ellis’ third gave the Preds a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t surrender. Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for the win as Ellis had a pair of points.
What’s on Tonight?
The Anaheim Ducks stop by to visit the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston and Montreal meet up, Ottawa travels to Florida in search of a win, Toronto continues the tour of Alberta with a stop in Edmonton, and Colorado tries to scratch out a win against division-leading Vancouver.
The Injury Bug:
-Tuomo Ruutu’s upper-body injury is expected to keep him out 3-to-4 weeks. It will be interesting to see how this impacts trade negotiations involving Ruutu.
-Sidney Crosby skated after Penguins’ practice yesterday but there is still no word on a possible return. He is said to still be suffering concussion-like symptoms.
-Nathan Horton did not join the Boston Bruins on their road trip that starts tonight in Montreal. He is out indefinitely with a concussion and has been out since January 22nd.
-Matt Duchene has returned to non-contact drills in Avalanche practice. He has been out since late December but there’s still no timetable for his return.
News, Notes, and Rumours
-It will be interesting to see which teams will be active and which will be dormant come Trade Deadline day. Word is that both Boston and New York are open to making trades but are cautious of disrupting team chemistry.
-Minnesota’s Marek Zidlicky wants out of Minnesota and New Jersey might be an option. The veteran defenseman has said that he would welcome a move to the Devils.
-Defenseman Johnny Boychuk and the Boston Bruins have come to an agreement on a three-year contract extension. The deal is worth just over $10-million.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line(s) of the Night:
Well…let’s give it to the four-point men shall we? Both Jason Spezza and Ilya Kovalchuk finished with hat-tricks last night, and added an assist each for good measure. One of Kovalchuk’s goals came on the power play and so did his assist as he finished with a +2 rating and seven shots, while Spezza had a power play goal, a plus-three rating and four shots.