Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers

Around the Rink – Tuesday, February 1st

The Avalanche-Blues game was postponed, but don’t worry: there are still 12 other games on the docket tonight. Here are previews of those contests, with start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET) as always.

7:00 pm

NY Islanders @ Atlanta

If the Thrashers want to maintain their tenuous grasp on a playoff spot, they need to win games like these. They had plenty of rest and host a weak team in the Islanders.

Florida @ Toronto

Two teams that haven’t been in the playoffs in ages – and don’t seem likely to get there again this year – meet in this one.

Chicago @ Columbus

The Blackhawks had plenty of representatives during the All-Star Game, yet they must face the disturbing possibility that they might miss the playoffs this season. They’d be in if the playoffs began today, but they need to improve their chances by winning games like these.

Boston @ Carolina

The Hurricanes knocked the Bruins out of the playoffs in 2009, so perhaps Boston can look back at that and try to get revenge by hurting Carolina’s chances to sneak in this season.

Ottawa @ New Jersey

A game between two teams that have seen much, much better days. One can argue that both would benefit from losing more often than not at this point.

7:30 pm

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

The Lightning continue their 12-game homestand against the Flyers in a game between the two top seeds in the East. These two teams combined for a pretty wild game already this season, so this should be an entertaining contest.

Montreal @ Washington

The Capitals need to start winning against playoff caliber teams, as Alex Ovechkin isn’t producing against quality opponents this season. Washington could really benefit from a strong ending to this season, even if they aren’t able to catch up to Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division title.

Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers

Two banged-up but hard working teams square off in this one, as the Penguins cope without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby while the Rangers are starting to get healthy again.

8:00 pm

Calgary @ Nashville

The Predators stumbled a bit last week after going on quite the hot streak, but a home game against the Flames gives them the opportunity to get back on track. Calgary has been scrappier lately, though, with four wins in a row.

Los Angeles @ Minnesota

Both teams are locked up in the Western Conference bubble at 55 points, with the Kings holding more wins while the Wild got to that point in one less game. This could be a pretty significant game for both teams.

8:30 pm

Vancouver @ Dallas

The Canucks have absolutely dominated the Stars in their first two games, winning each one while outscoring Dallas 11-2. They should feel pretty much at home in Dallas, too, considering the snowy weather in Texas (and most of the U.S. really).

10:00 pm

Phoenix @ San Jose

The Sharks have an identical record (25-19-6 for 56 points) as the Avalanche right now for the eight spot in the West, so perhaps San Jose can win while Colorado is idle? Phoenix has a solid little cushion for a spot themselves, but they need to maintain it by holding off their Pacific Division rivals.

Backes scores OT goal on his birthday, Blues even up series with Stars

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The St. Louis Blues won’t be thrilled with the way they played in the third period, but in the end, they did just enough to come away with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2. The Blues’ win means that the series will head to St. Louis tied 1-1.

The Stars opened the scoring in the first period, but the Blues responded by scoring three unanswered goals (Patrik Berglund, Joel Edmundson, Troy Brouwer) on five shots. Stars coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from starter Kari Lehtonen at that point. He yanked Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi at the start of the second period.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but things got crazy in the third.

With his team still trailing 3-1, Mattias Janmark split Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko before scoring a great goal.

Moments after Janmark’s goal, Brian Elliott took a Jason Spezza blast off the mask. Elliott was shaken up on the play (he even lost one of his contact lenses), but he did stay in the game.

Stars captain Jamie Benn (surprise, surprise) leveled the score by burying a goal by Brian Elliott with under three minutes in regulation.

Like they did during their first round series against Chicago, the Blues took some time to regroup before finding a way to get the job done.

The Blues’ power play went back to work after Antoine Roussel took his third penalty of the game. That’s when the birthday boy, David Backes, came through.

That’s a nice way to celebrate your 32nd birthday.

Game 3 goes Tuesday night in St. Louis.

 

Jamie Benn’s late goal sends Game 2 to overtime

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This definitely wasn’t the way the St. Louis Blues drew it up.

The Blues entered the third period of Game 2 with a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shut the game down on the road.

St. Louis jumped ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes before Dallas decided to pull Kari Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi. The move didn’t provide any results in the middle frame, but something certainly sparked the Stars in the third period.

Mattias Janmark cut the deficit to 3-2 with this beauty (notice how he split Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo).

With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Stars captain Jamie Benn tied it up (top).

It’s safe to say this wasn’t a memorable third period for the Blues.

Video: Brian Elliott takes a blast off the mask, stays in the game

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A bit of a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 between the Stars and Blues.

Less than five minutes into the third period, Jason Spezza took a shot that caught Blues goalie Brian Elliott square in the mask. Play was halted as Elliott remained down. It appears as though the shot to the mask also made Elliott lose one of his contacts.

Thankfully, Elliott wasn’t seriously injured on the play. After being examined by the team doctor, he was allowed to stay into the game. He did need a new mask though (he got his original one back a few minutes later).

You can watch the play by clicking the video at the top of the page.

The Blues currently lead 3-2 late in the third period.

Here’s some Twitter reaction:

 

Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

Lehtonen
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Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.