NY Rangers 5 – Pittsburgh 3
The Rangers snapped their six-game losing streak against the beat up and battered Penguins. Ryan Callahan scored twice and added an assist while Henrik Lundqvist settled down nicely after a rough first period to get the win making 26 saves. Marc Staal had a pair of assists as the Rangers were able to stop their playoff-spot-threatening slide. For the Penguins, their tour of New York ends meekly with their injury-depleted roster, dropping games to the Isles and Rangers and fitting a bus accident in between all of that.
Los Angeles 1 – Philadelphia 0
L.A.’s road trip marches on and their hellish run through Pittsburgh, D.C., and Philadelphia ends with them going 2-0-1 and giving up just three goals as Jon Quick earned his sixth shutout of the season stopping 40 Flyers shots in the win. Drew Doughty’s second period goal was all the Kings would need to win as they shutdown the NHL’s third highest-scoring team. The Kings are now 4-0-2 on their 10-game road trip and head to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
NY Islanders 7 – Buffalo 6 (F/OT)
Everyone expected firewagon hockey to make a comeback today, right? Michael Grabner capped off a wild game scoring his hat trick goal in overtime to give the Sabres a defeat they’ll be kicking themselves over. Grabner’s three goals give him 24 on the season and suddenly he’s vaulted into the discussion for the Calder Trophy for the league’s best rookie. Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen each had three assists to help lead the Isles to victory. The Sabres Drew Stafford had a hat trick of his own, his fourth of the season giving him 23 goals of his own on the season. The goalies were a massive letdown in this one as Isles starter Mikko Koskinen was chased after giving up fout goals on 14 shots. Al Montoya took over and earned the win after giving up just two more. Ryan Miller looked bad today giving up all seven Isles goals and stopping just 19 shots. Buffalo with the loss blows a big chance to climb up the standings in the East as they try to get back in the playoff picture.
Columbus 2 – Dallas 1
When a team is rolling and getting solid goaltending, sometimes the captain has to step up and elevate things to another level. Good thing for Columbus they’ve got Rick Nash around to do that. Nash’s second period goal snapped a 1-1 tie and Steve Mason would do his job and shut down the Stars the rest of the way to give Columbus their fifth win in their last six games. Mason saved 29 shots to get the win while Kari Lehtonen was a bit of a hard-luck loser stopping 37 shots in the loss. Matt Calvert also scored for Columbus while Brad Richards scored Dallas’ lone goal.
There’s not much left for Winnipeg to play for — just five regular-season games left, and no playoffs on the horizon — so today’s news that Tobias Enstrom has undergone season-ending knee surgery isn’t a crippling development.
Can’t be good, though.
Enstrom’s had a difficult year health-wise and, at the time of surgery, was dealing with a concussion suffered on a Tom Sestito hit back in early March. Prior to that, he missed time while attending to a family matter in his native Sweden and, prior to that, was shut down late last season to undergo knee surgery.
It’s unclear if today’s procedure was related to the one Enstrom had last March.
It is worth noting that, at the time of last year’s surgery, head coach Paul Maurice noted the 32-year-old had been dealing with the injury for months.
“He’s been able to get through it because of blocks of days off. If he can get a two day block, he’d get a little better and it’s just getting worse,” Maurice said, per Global News. “It got to the point that he’s not recovering and he hasn’t been. He hasn’t been for almost a month now. He’s not recovering enough on his days off for the pain ever to subside.”
All told, Enstrom appeared in 60 games this year, scoring 14 points while averaging just under 22 minutes per night. Next season will be the last of a five-year, $28.75 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.
Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.
The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.
But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.
Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.
“I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”
With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.
Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.
The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.
Raanta will start one of the final two games.
The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.
Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.
“It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.
“I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”
Reinhart also had this to say:
Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.
The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”
In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.
Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.
And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.
“We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”
Another day, another North Dakota departure.
Having already lost freshman Tyson Jost (signed with Colorado) and sophomore Brock Boeser (signed with Vancouver), the school has now learned that junior blueliner Tucker Poolman has signed an entry-level deal with the Jets.
Poolman, 23, was taken by Winnipeg in the fifth round (127th overall) at the ’13 draft. From the Free Press:
UND’s top defenceman was playing between 25 and 30 minutes per game and was the fourth-highest scoring blue-liner in the NCHC. He finished the season with seven goals, 30 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-18 rating in 38 games.
Poolman’s final campaign ended on a sour note. He suffered a shoulder injury during the NCHC championship game and was unable to play in North Dakota’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the NCAA championships.