Capitals don't really need Ovechkin after all.

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I know that everyone — well, everyone in Washington — is upset
about Alex Ovechkin being forced to miss two games after being suspended
by the evil Colin Campbell. I don’t think the Capitals have anything to
worry about after destroying the Florida Panthers 7-3. I know that
beating Florida isn’t exactly a great accomplishment, but chasing Tomas
Vokoun isn’t exactly happening on a nightly basis.

The Capitals
had something to prove tonight, it seems, that they can get by without
Ovechkin and that they’ll tech the NHL a lesson for throwing their
captain under the bus. I’m sure that’s not exactly what the players were
thinking, but the Caps certainly played with a chip on their shoulder.
Says J.P. of Japers’ Rink
:

In the nine games that the Caps have played this season without the
two-time reigning League Most Valuable Player, they’re now 7-2-0 after a
7-3 win Tuesday night in Sunrise. Impressive.

Every bit as impressive is how they’ve played in those games, piling
up the goals in the absence of the League’s best goal-scorer to the tune
of 4.78 per game (three times scoring at least seven goals in a game)
and a scorching 41.7% efficiency on the power play. They’ve also allowed
just 2.67 goals per game in those nine and have killed off 81.5% of
their shorthanded opportunities. Just a reminder to the rest of the NHL:
this is not a one-man team.

Suspending Alex Ovechkin is not exactly the worst thing to happen to
the Washington Capitals. In fact, it may make them a much more dangerous
team. They’ve learned that they don’t need Ovechkin to win and score
goals in bunches, which adds even more confidence to an
already-confident team.

Hmm. Maybe Ovechkin really isn’t needed. The Capitals weren’t playing
very well before he was tossed against Chicago, and the Capitals then
stormed back from a three-goal deficit. Then they destroy one of the
NHL’s best goaltenders without him. Is it best if Ovechkin takes a
diminished role with the team?

Naw.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”