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.

Pre-game reading: A warning from Donald Fehr, about the NHL and the Olympics

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— Up top, even Patrick Kane seemed amused that he got into a little scrap with Jussi Jokinen on Saturday. The refs only gave them two minutes each for roughing. No rematch is planned.

— NHLPA chief Donald Fehr warns that if the NHL stops sending players to the Olympics, “the reaction from the players’ side — across the board — is not going to be a good one. And my guess is it’s going to last for a very long time.” Which certainly wouldn’t bode well for the next CBA negotiation. Fehr has vowed that players won’t bargain for the right to participate in the Games. (National Post)

— The Anaheim Ducks, after surging past San Jose into first place in the Pacific Division, are hoping to make some noise in the postseason. Said d-man Cam Fowler: “When you make a run in the playoffs, things have to line up for you, you have to be healthy, and a lot of things have to go right. We’re just hoping that it’s our time.” (ESPN)

— Florida forward Nick Bjugstad has just six goals in 46 games this season, and his ice time is way down. That’s not what the Panthers were expecting when they signed him to a six-year deal, and the 24-year-old is committed to turning things around. “Trust me, no one is more disappointed with this than I am. I’ll do my best to change things this summer.” (Miami Herald)

— Another young forward who’s endured a frustrating season is Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen. The sixth overall draft pick in 2014, Virtanen is currently in the AHL, where he only has seven goals in 56 games for the Utica Comets. “It hasn’t been all roses for Jake down in the AHL,” said coach Travis Green. “We’ve been very honest with him. Are we hard on him? Sometimes. But with that, there’s good dialogue. He understands that and is confident his game is going in the right direction, even though it’s hard sometimes.” (The Province)

— An interview with former All-Star Game MVP John Scott, who seems to be keeping busy in his post-NHL career. One of his hobbies? Making his own sausages. (The Athletic)

Enjoy the games!

Goalie nods: After blowout loss, ‘Hawks start Darling against desperate Bolts

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It wasn’t a good performance from Corey Crawford in Saturday’s 7-0 loss in Florida — the Chicago starter was hooked after allowing four goals on 25 shots.

Of course, it wasn’t a good night for the guy that replaced Crawford, either.

Scott Darling was torched for three goals on six shots against the Panthers, but now gets the first crack at redemption — Darling will start tonight when Chicago gets back into action in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning are hopeful they’ll have as much success against Darling — and maybe even Crawford — as the Panthers did on the weekend. Tampa Bay is desperate for points, and heads into tonight’s action sitting three points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are idle tonight, but the Isles — who have 82 points, to Tampa Bay’s 81 — are in action, hosting Nashville.

So it’s a big night for Tampa, to say the least. Appropriately, Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start, after stopping 29 of 30 shots in a big OT win over Detroit on Friday.

Elsewhere…

Eddie Lack is 5-1-1 in March with a .931 save percentage, so he gets the call as the ‘Canes host the Red Wings. Petr Mrazek goes for Detroit.

Roberto Luongo is still out, meaning James Reimer gets yet another start for the Panthers (he scored the shutout against Chicago over the weekend). Robin Lehner is in goal for Buffalo.

— We mentioned the Isles-Preds game above, and it’ll be Thomas Greiss in goal for the host team. It’s his second straight start, having played in Saturday’s loss to Boston, and it comes ahead of the recently recalled Jaroslav Halak. No word yet on a Preds starter.

Jake Allen‘s ridiculous month (7-1-1, .951 save percentage) continues with a start against the Coyotes. Mike Smith will be in goal for the visitors, looking to snap a five-game personal losing streak.

— The Flames will stick with Brian Elliott when they host the Avs tonight. No word yet on a Colorado starter.

Sharks’ Haley suspended one game for Jarnkrok sucker punch

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has come down on San Jose tough guy Micheal Haley.

On Monday, Haley was suspended one game for his sucker punch of Preds forward Calle Jarnkrok, near the end of Nashville’s 7-2 over the Sharks on Saturday.

“Haley forcefully punches a player who is off balance, not engaged in the confrontation and not even looking when the punch is thrown,” the DoPS explained, via video. “This is a forceful punch on an opponent who is not able to defend himself at the time.”

The DoPS did acknowledge Jarnkrok’s hit on Haley that preceded the punch — Jarnkrok was given a boarding minor on the play — and also noted that Haley explained he was seeking retribution for said hit.

In addition, the DoPS acknowledged this was Haley’s first offense.

As a result of the suspension, Haley will now miss San Jose’s next game — tomorrow at home against the Rangers — and will be eligible to return on Thursday, when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

Haley will also forfeit $3,472.22 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

 

Cassidy says Bruins ‘overused’ Rask early on

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Some interesting comments today from Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, after goalie Tuukka Rask returned to practice.

Cassidy’s remarks came in the wake of Saturday’s big win in Brooklyn — a game that Rask missed with a lower-body injury.

“He had a good practice today,” Cassidy said of Rask, per CSN New England“He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year … and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.”

It remains to be seen which netminder will get the nod tomorrow against Nashville at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 18 of 19 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders. After a 1-5-1 start to the season, the 30-year-old backup has won his last five starts.

But Cassidy insisted today that Rask is the Bruins’ “No. 1 goalie.”

“He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important,” said Cassidy. “When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision.”