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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.