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Afternoon shutouts: Sharks, Habs, and Ducks all roll in shutout fashion

San Jose 2 – Boston 0

A solid day for Antti Niemi as he stopped all 21 shots he saw en route to his third shutout of the season. Niemi has been great of late and it’s showing in the standings as the Sharks have caught up in a major way in the playoff race out West. For the Bruins, Tim Thomas stopped 16 of 17 shots he saw as Logan Couture’s power play goal in the first was the only shot to elude him. Devin Setoguchi added an empty net goal with three seconds to play to provide the final tally.

For Couture it’s his 23rd goal of the year and helping him in making his case for the Calder Trophy. For the Sharks it’s their third straight win and seventh in eight games. Boston now sits just two points ahead of Montreal for the Northeast lead because…

Montreal 2 – NY Rangers 0

Carey Price was stellar in stopping all 35 shots he faced and earned his fifth shutout of the season in stopping the Rangers. Scott Gomez’s seventh goal of the year got Montreal out in front in the second period and it was all they’d need to stop New York this afternoon as the Rangers offense were unable to get anything past Price. Tomas Plekanec added an empty net goal to seal the deal for Montreal, his 18th goal of the year. With the win, Montreal moved to within two points of division-leading Boston closing the gap to make sure the Bruins don’t get too cozy. Martin Biron stopped 27 of 28 shots he saw in playing well for the Rangers despite yet another poor showing by the Rangers offense.

Anaheim 3 – Colorado 0

Curtis McElhinney made the most of a rare start for Anaheim as he stopped all 25 shots he saw. Corey Perry was the real story here as he had all three Ducks goals in earning the hat trick and giving him 28 goals on the season. Perry has emerged while captain Ryan Getzlaf has been out of the lineup and his outstanding season marches along in Anaheim. For McElhinney, the shutout is his second of the season. If he can play this strong when Hiller can’t go or needs a break, the talk of bringing Ray Emery in to be the new backup just might have to cool off for good.

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.”