Here is a rundown of another light night of preseason games.
Toronto 5, Buffalo 4
Plus: Both teams had at least one player who scored two goals. Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin did it for the Maple Leafs while Nathan Gerbe did it for the Sabres. Each team scored a power-play goal, even though there were only five power plays overall.
Minus: Each team’s defense allowed way too many shots, with Buffalo firing 39 shots on goal while Toronto was right behind them with 38. Let’s hope that both clubs tighten things up, because neither club looks like it will score a ton of goals. (Looks can be deceiving, though.)
Montreal 6, Florida 2
Plus: I guess coach Jacques Martin got a measure of revenge against his former team? Tomas Plekanec continued his hot preseason play with two goals, including one on the penalty kill. Michael Cammalleri produced one goal and two assists while newcomer Lars “Not from Metallica” Eller managed to put up three assists. David Booth was involved in both Florida goals, gaining a goal and an assist.
Oh, and Carey Price wasn’t horrible, allowing only two goals in this one.
Minus: Florida was 0-5 at even strength and also allowed a shorthanded goal on the power play. That’s not very good, Panthers.
Nashville 2, Atlanta 1
Plus: The Predators’ two best players were strong in this one. Shea Weber factored into both goals with one goal and one assist while goalie Pekka Rinne only allowed one goal on 22 shots. The Predators defense was great for allowing only 22 pucks on Rinne.
Minus: If you judge it by the box score alone, this was an incredibly boring game. The Thrashers were held under 10 shots in two periods, putting only six shots on net in the first and third period (with 10 in the second).
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.