Riding the Zamboni – Sharks take out Wings, Habs upend Canucks, Devils and Coyotes keep rolling

Phoenix 3 – Philadelphia 2 (F/OT)

The Coyotes made it eight in a row after captain Shane Doan powered home the game-winner in overtime. Phoenix thought they had it locked down late in the third until Claude Giroux tied it with under two minutes to play. Ilya Bryzgalov played big all night though stopping 37 shots in the win. Phoenix was able to hold off the surging Sharks in the Pacific Division with the win moving to 75 points on the season.

San Jose 4 – Detroit 3

Joe Thornton scored his 300th goal while Devin Setoguchi scored twice to help give the Sharks their ninth win in their last 11 games. Antti Niemi stopped 35 shots in the win. Dan Cleary scored twice for Detroit in a losing effort while Jimmy Howard stopped 39 shots in the loss making it look respectable.

New Jersey 1 – Dallas 0

They just keep rolling along. The Devils made it eight straight wins as a Nick Palmieri tip home of an Ilya Kovalchuk shot was the only goal of the game while Johan Hedberg won his seventh straight game earning his third shutout of the season stopping 19 shots in the win. The Devils are now nine points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to the Rangers shootout win over Carolina. The impossible dream lives on for New Jersey so long as they keep winning and everyone ahead of them keeps bumbling away.

Montreal 3 – Vancouver 2

Montreal got a 37-save performance out of British Columbia native Carey Price in what initially shaped up to be a big mismatch for the Canadiens. Getting goals from David Desharnais and Brian Gionta in the first period to give the Habs a 2-0 lead set the tone for the game and Andrei Kostitsyn’s second period goal gave them a 3-1 lead they could sit on the rest of the way thanks to Price’s great play. Henrik Sedin and Mikael Samuelsson had goals for the Canucks, but the Habs were able to make it stand and keep pace with Boston in the Northeast.

NY Rangers 3 – Carolina 2 (F/SO)

Until the final minutes of the game, it looked like Carolina was going to get things together and start to strengthen their hold on the last playoff spot in the East. Instead. Wojtek Wolski tied it up in the final two minutes of play and scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Rangers a much needed win. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 30 shots to get the win while Cam Ward’s 43 save performance goes by the wayside. Jussi Jokinen had two third period goals for Carolina. Shootout wizards Jokinen and Mats Zuccarello both missed on their attempts in the skills competition. Yes, we were surprised too.

Colorado 4 – St. Louis 3

Columbus 4 – Nashville 0

Steve Mason earned his third shutout of the year stopping 20 shots while Rick Nash had two goals for the Blue Jackets. With the win, Columbus pulled to within two points of the final playoff spot in the West. Of course virtually everyone is in the mix for the playoff spots between fifth and eighth so it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but for the Jackets to be getting back in the mix it’s a tremendous accomplishment. The loss by Nashville hurts them because now the rest of the pack is catching up to them pulling them back into the mix that makes making and missing the playoffs a touchy line to cross.

Boston 3 – Calgary 1

Milan Lucic scored twice, including an empty netter, while Tim Thomas stopped 28 shots to give the B’s an important road win. For Calgary the loss hurts as it slows their momentum to climb up the standings in the West. Rookie forward Brad Marchand scored his 19th goal of the year while Calgary’s Curtis Glencross scored his 20th.

Toronto 2 – NY Islanders 1

Phil Kessel and James Reimer were the men of the hour for Toronto. Kessel scored a late, clutch goal to give the Leafs the lead and the victory and did so by deking Al Montoya out badly to beat him. Reimer fought off illness during the game and made 28 saves to continue his stellar play and helping give the Leafs another victory. The Leafs are six points behind Carolina in the East for the eighth spot. For the Isles, Matt Moulson’s 27th goal of the year would be all they’d muster in the game as their win streak ends at two.

Minnesota 4 – Edmonton 1

It was Minnesota’s most effective win of the season and doing it against the West’s worst team is about the right way to do it. Pierre-Marc Bouchard led the way with a goal and two assists. His spin-o-rama goal in the third will undoubtedly be the highlight reel goal of the week as he embarrassed Nikolai Khabibulin badly with the move. Jared Spurgeon scored his first NHL goal and Martin Havlat scored his 19th of the season for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom made 20 saves in the win. The victory puts the Wild in a three-way tie for fifth place in the West.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.