Riding the Zamboni – Monday, January 10th

3 Comments

Colorado 5 – Detroit 4

Colorado did their damage in the first period and never really looked back. The Avalanche scored four goals in the first, two from Matt Duchene, and chased Detroit starter Jimmy Howard from the game. In typical Avalanche fashion, the game was high scoring with Colorado holding a 4-2 lead after the first period.

Newly recalled Joey McDonald made his sudden appearance count though as he was able to hold the Avs to just one more goal through the rest of the game, but that one goal would be the game winner by David Jones on a 2-on-1 early in the second period to make it 5-2. The Wings made it interesting getting power play goals from Henrik Zetterberg in the second and Tomas Holmstrom in the third, but couldn’t knot it up. Peter Budaj made 26 saves in getting the win while McDonald stopped 15 of 16 shots. Howard was miserable saving just six out of ten shots he faced.

Boston 4 – Pittsburgh 2

What was a 2-0 lead for Pittsburgh vanished as the Penguins gave up four goals in the final 3:23 of the game to fall in insane fashion to Boston 4-2. Boston got power play goals from Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi, Recchi’s the game-winner, and others from Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell to make what was a great effort out of Marc-Andre Fleury into a gut-wrenching loss. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots in the win while Fleury saved 28 in the loss.

Phoenix 4 – St. Louis 3

A roller coaster game for Phoenix falls in their favor as they blew a 2-1 lead after the Blues scored 20 seconds apart early in the third with goals from Matt D’Agostini and Brad Winchester but bounced back big in the third. Kyle Turris led the charge tying the game with a goal and assisted five minutes later on Taylor Pyatt’s game-winner at 16:48. Jason LaBarbera got the start once again in net and held it together well stopping 33 shots in the win. Jaroslav Halak played well saving 29 shots while not getting great support from his teammates. The win is the Coyotes third in their last four games. For St. Louis, their up and down season rolls on on the downside as this was their fourth straight loss.

Toronto 3 – Los Angeles 2

The good news for L.A. is that they already broke their losing streak on Saturday night. The bad news is that they’ve now lost six of their last seven games and flat out got beat by the Leafs tonight. Nikolai Kulemin’s early third period goal snapped a 2-2 tie and James Reimer held strong in goal stopping 30 Kings shots. For the Leafs it’s an encouraging win considering that their lineup is very young and they’re getting help, finally, from Phil Kessel who had a goal in this game.It’s the Leafs third straight win, their longest streak since starting the season 4-0-0.

The Kings, meanwhile, have something wrong going on with them. Running into a hot goalie will happen now and again, but there’s something not quite working right in L.A.  GM Dean Lombardi might be in the position to shake things up a little bit to snap them out of it. A bit of defensive help could go a long way.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

Getty
Leave a comment

Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

14 Comments

The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

2 Comments

The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

Getty
3 Comments

Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.