The Night that Was:
With or without Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins were just winning games heading into Sunday. In fact, they had won 11 in a row before their matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh took the first lead of the game 13:21 into the first when Craig Adams put his 5th of the season past Ilya Bryzgalov. Then, with 53 seconds to go in the second period, Evgeni Malkin scored his 41st to put the Pens up 2-0. It didn’t take long for the Flyers to get that one back though, as 31 seconds into the third Kimmo Timonen scored his 3rd of the season on the power play, and just four minutes later, Scott Hartnell’s 34th tied the game at 2. The rest of the period passed by scoreless as the game headed to overtime. In overtime, each team had two shots and it looked like things would head to a shootout. However, with one second left on the clock the Flyers’ third shot, off the stick of Scott Hartnell (35) gave the Flyers a 3-2 win and snapped the Penguins’ streak. Hartnell, Timonen and Claude Giroux all had two points for Philly, while Craig Adams and Kris Letang had a pair for the Pens. Bryzgalov made 38 saves for the victory, his 30th of the season. Sidney Crosby was held scoreless for the first time since he returned to the lineup.
Fresh off of a four-game winning streak, the Washington Capitals were hoping to avoid back-to-back losses last night when they visited the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago had other ideas though, as Andrew Shaw (8) and Viktor Stalberg (18) both scored before the game was 10 minutes old, giving Chicago a 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks took that to the second, where there was plenty more scoring. Mike Knuble’s 5th opened things up, but Patrick Kane (19) restored the two-goal lead. Andrew Shaw’s second of the game made it 4-1, before Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th and made it 4-2. Bryan Bickell’s eighth would be the only marker of the third, as Chicago went on to win 5-2. This is the seventh-straight season that Ovechkin has hit 30 goals, as Michal Neuvirth lost in regulation for the first time in three starts. Shaw would add an assist for a three-point night and Bickell would finish with three as well (1G/2A). Corey Crawford made just 16 saves for the win.
Playing in their second of back-to-backs, the Nashville Predators were hoping to earn a win against the Ducks after they fell to the Kings on Saturday. Rookie Devante Smith-Pelly scored his 5th of the season shorthanded 7:32 into the first to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead, but that’s the last time they would be ahead. After a scoreless second where the Ducks outshot the Preds 13-8, Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher both scored their 23rd goals of the season, and David Legwand’s 16th would be the final goal scored in a 3-1 Predators win. Anders Lindback made 30 saves for his third win of the season thanks to two points from Legwand. Smith-Pelly’s goal was his first in six games.
The Rest of the Story…
Nikita Nikitin and Matt Stajan scored the only goals of regulation for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames, as they were tied at 1-1 all the way until the shootout. It would be four rounds that would follow as Cam Atkinson would score the only goal and give Columbus a 2-1 win.
In Edmonton the first period would slide along scoreless before Jordan Eberle (32) and Ales Hemsky (6) would make it 2-0 Oilers in the second. Edmonton couldn’t hold that lead though, as Ray Whitney (22) and Raffi Torres (14) tied the score. After a scoreless overtime Mikkel Boedker and Sam Gagner would score in the second round of the shootout, and Whitney would add the winner for Phoenix.
Carolina and Winnipeg faced-off last night in a back-and-forth affair. Jussi Jokinen (11-SHG) and Nik Antropov (13) traded goals in the first and while Eric Staal’s 20th opened the scoring in the second, two from Antti Miettinen gave the Jets the lead heading to the third. Staal would score again in the third period, and Chad LaRose would add his 17th with just 1:22 to go for the 4-3 Canes win. Cam Ward made 30 saves for the win and both Staal and Jokinen had 3 pints. Zach Bogosian left his feet to deliver a hit to Andreas Nodl last night. Nodl was helped off the ice and Bogosian received a game misconduct.
What’s on Tonight?
The Toronto Maple Leafs pay a visit to the Boston Bruins who could use the points to go three up on Ottawa for the lead in the Northeast Division. New Jersey stops by MSG to tangle with the New York Rangers, while the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning go head-to-head in Tampa as Buffalo sits two points out of a playoff position. Washington looks for a win as they head to Detroit to take on the Red Wings, while Vancouver stops by Minnesota as the Canucks look for points 95 and 96 on the season, and the Anaheim Ducks go up against San Jose at the Shark Tank.
The Injury Bug:
-Taylor Hall hasn’t shown any serious sides since suffering a concussion on Friday outside of not remembering the hit, however he has said he will take the cautious approach in his recovery.
-Nick Lidstrom continues to hit speed bumps with his ankle. Lidstrom has reported discomfort after skating despite clean x-rays. After a few days of rest, Lidstrom is expected to resume skating Monday. For Johan Franzen there is still no timeline for a return to action, as he is suffering from tightness in his lower back.
-There is no return date set for Wild goaltender Nicklas Backstrom, however he is getting pretty close. Everything has been going well for him in practice.
-David Backes left St. Louis’ game on Saturday night after blocking a shot, but all reports are positive. Backes will take a couple of maintenance days and be re-evaluated Wednesday. Coach Ken Hitchcock doesn’t expect it to limit him in any way.
-Nik Antropov left action last night with a lower-body injury. The Jets will monitor the situation.
News and Notes…
-Shawn Thornton and the Boston Bruins have come to an agreement on a two-year contract extension. Thornton will make $1.1-million in both years.
-Winnipeg Jets defenseman Mark Stuart has been fined $2,500 by the NHL for his hit on Marcus Johannson of Washington on Friday.
The Overlooked Fantasy Line(s) of the Night:
In 34 games with the Jets Antti Miettinen had yet to score a goal. Last night, he scored two. Miettinen scored both of his goals in the second period to tie the game and give the Jets a lead they would eventually surrender to Carolina. Nevertheless Miettinen would finish a +2 with five shots in just under 11 minutes of icetime.