The Night that Was:
The Pittsburgh Penguins welcomed the Phoenix Coyotes to town last night, as the Pens looked to not only keep the Coyotes’ recent woes going, but extend their own five-game win streak. Things started out well for the Pens when former Coyote Zbynek Michalek scored his second of the year halfway through the second, before Chris Kunitz added his 19th three minutes later for a 2-0 lead. Marc-Andre Fleury would keep the ‘Yotes off the board in the third with 15 saves (after he made 12 in the first), but Ray Whitney beat him early in the third for his 21st of the season, cutting the lead to 2-1. Phoenix would outshoot the Pens 10-5 in the third but Fleury would stand tall with 36 saves and hold on for the 2-1 win. The win was Pittsburgh’s sixth in a row but they’re still eight points back of the Rangers for first in the league, while Phoenix remains in seventh in the West.
The eighth-place Winnipeg Jets needed a win last night to put some space between themselves and the rest of the pack when they welcomed the Buffalo Sabres to the ‘Peg. It was the Captain getting things started for the Jets last night, when halfway through the first Andrew Ladd made it 1-0 with his 21st. Corey Tropp would tie it with his second of the season, but not until there was just 35 seconds left in the second period. With things tied at one in the final frame, Blake Wheeler (15) and Chris Thorburn (4) scored goals three minutes apart to give the Jets a 3-1 win. Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves for the win, while Ryan Miller’s 28 saves weren’t enough to avoid his first regulation loss since February 14th. Bryan Little was in on all three goals for the Jets, recording his first career three-assist game.
Anaheim welcomed Edmonton to town last night, as the Ducks hoped to their second win of the month while the Oilers were looking to avoid a third-straight loss. The Ducks would take a 1-0 lead to the second period when Jason Blake (6) scored on a power play with just under three minutes left. After getting outshot 11-4 in the first, the Oilers fired an amazing 22 shots on net in the second, but were nearly shutout for the period before Shawn Horcoff scored his 12th of the season to tie it up at 19:29. Things started out scoreless in the third, but they quickly opened up: Bobby Ryan (25) scored at 8:06 to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead, and eight minutes later Corey Perry would add his 32nd for a 3-1 lead. Jordan Eberle (29) would make it a one-goal game, but Perry’s 33rd wrapped up a 4-2 Ducks win. Perry and Ryan both finished the evening with two points, as did Shawn Horcoff. Jonas Hiller withstood that second period onslaught and made 34 saves for the win, while Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 26 shots in a losing effort.
What’s on Tonight?
Toronto puts their new coach to the test against the Boston Bruins, a team they’ve had trouble with all season, while New Jersey hosts division rival the New York Rangers, and Detroit hits the road for a matchup with the injury-riddled defense of the Philadelphia Flyers. Carolina and Washington go head-to-head in a game that would help Washington keep pace with Winnipeg for a playoff spot, while Phoenix continues their road trip in Columbus and Ottawa faces off against Tampa Bay as Brian Lee and Matt Gilroy go up against their former teams. Chicago stops by St. Louis, the Los Angeles goals have their work cut out for them as they look for goals against Nashville, while the Wild take on the Avalanche in Colorado. Montreal pays a visit to former star Mike Cammalleri in Calgary, Dallas looks for a win in Vancouver, and the Edmonton Oilers look to hand the Sharks a third-straight loss.
The Injury Bug:
-The Bruins received word that Tuukka Rask would be out for 4-to-6 weeks with a lower abdomen/groin strain. Rask suffered the injury making a save on Saturday.
-Staying with goalies, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard will not travel with the team because of a groin strain. Right now the injury isn’t considered serious and Howard is listed as ‘day-to-day’.
-The only word on Nicklas Lidstrom is that he won’t be playing tonight. He didn’t practice yesterday and the timeline for him to return from his ankle injury is still some time this month,
News, Notes, and Rumours
-With Tuukka Rask injured, the Boston Bruins signed Marty Turco to a one-year contract. Turco still has to pass through waivers (like Evgeni Nabokov last year), and even if he does he would not be eligible for the playoff roster.
-Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, Ray Emery of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Niklas Kronwall of the Detroit Red Wings were named the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week yesterday.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line(s) of the Night:
Bryan Little’s three-assist night takes the honours. All three of the helpers came at even-strength as Little finished the night a +3 with two shots through 20:29 of ice time.