The story of this game was supposed to be about Alex Ovechkin’s race for the Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies. After all, the two teams had nothing to play for; win or lose the Capitals would remain the East’s top seed and the Bruins are still in the sixth spot.
Yet, instead of being a bleary-eyed yawn fest, the final regular season NBC game morphed into a shootout thriller. Both Vezina winner turned backup Tim Thomas (34 out of 37 saves) and Semyon Varlamov (35 out of 38 saves) played well with Thomas looking especially sharp. In the beginning, it looked like this was going to be another Game of the Week slugfest, but it seemed like Thomas’ fisticuffs with Jason Chimera became the catalyst for the game to shift from goal scoring to goal stopping.
Struggling sniper Michael Ryder scored the Bruins’ first two goals and Marco Sturm tied the game with his team-leading 22nd goal (to give you an idea of how different these two teams are, Washington has 6 players with more goals than Sturm and Mike Green isn’t far behind with 19 tallies). Alex Semin started the scoring with his 40th of the season. The Capitals then received offensive support from two underrated players in Eric Belanger and a great deflection goal by Mike Knuble.
You’d expect the two teams to let up in this one, but that was far from the case. Mike Green nearly injured himself when he blocked a shot in overtime. The game needed to be decided by a shootout in which both David Krejci and Miroslav Satan absolutely undressed Varlamov with some sick backhand goals.
All of a sudden, the Bruins are on a roll going into the playoffs. The sixth seed is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games with a three game winning streak. Even if the Capitals weren’t in full-on attack mode, one has to wonder if today’s New Jersey-Buffalo second seed deciding game will take more meaning because the Bruins might just be the lower-ranked team to avoid in the East.
Either way, it was a great way to close out NBC’s regular season coverage. Who’s ready for the playoffs? (Raises hand.)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to push the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night.
Hartnell scored in the first period and got the tiebreaker in the third, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a terrible second period to beat the Hurricanes for the second time this week. Carolina has lost three straight.
Markus Hannikainen also scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 35 saves for Columbus.
Sebastian Aho and Justin Faulk scored in the second period for Carolina. Michael Leighton, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on Thursday, started in place of Cam Ward and stopped 17 shots.
Hannikainen poked in the first goal for Columbus 4:49 into the game off a rebound in front of Carolina’s net. The shot through traffic resulted in the first goal and point of the 23-year-old rookie’s NHL career.
About 10 minutes later, Hartnell got a breakaway and slammed a slap shot past Leighton’s glove from just inside the blue line to put Columbus up 2-0 at the first break.
“I just tried to bury my head and shoot as hard as I could,” Hartnell said.
The second period belonged to the Hurricanes.
Carolina got the first one back on a power play 9:05 in when Aho picked up the loose puck off Jaccob Slavin‘s blocked slap shot and found the net from eight feet out.
Justin Faulk tied it at 2 when he carried the puck through the neutral zone and snapped off a shot from the right circle that rattled off the bar and in with 4:33 left. Carolina outshot Columbus 9-2 in the period, and Blue Jackets players went to the penalty box four times.
Hartnell got the winner when he took a pass from Sam Gagner and knocked it in from 13 feet with 9:35 left.
Carolina pulled the goalie with 2:32 left but couldn’t tie it.
Alexei Emelin has once again drawn the ire of opposing players.
This time, it was the Buffalo Sabres responding to a hit thrown by Emelin, who caught Matt Moulson with a dangerous hit from behind into the boards during the second period of their game on Saturday.
A massive scrum ensued right over top of Emelin and Moulson along the boards.
Emelin, who has a history of massive and questionable hits throughout his career (See here, here and here for examples) was given a minor penalty for boarding on the play.
Wayne Simmonds is not only a productive power forward, but he’s one tough customer.
He showed that again Saturday, dropping the gloves with Miles Wood of the New Jersey Devils during the first period.
The fight occurred right after Wood drove Radko Gudas hard into the boards on the forecheck. The scrap didn’t last long, however, with Simmonds landing a few shots and then taking the Devils forward to the ice.
Simmonds was assessed an extra roughing minor.
The Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings have made a minor league trade on Saturday.
The Blackhawks acquired forward Michael Latta, who has 113 games of NHL experience with the Washington Capitals, in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.
Latta will report to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, according to the Blackhawks. In 29 games this season with the Ontario Reign, Latta has two goals and six points.
Schilling, 28, is expected to be assigned to the Reign, the team said in a release.
In 40 games this season with the IceHogs, Schilling has seven goals and 17 points.