Barring a stunning turnaround, the Thrashers’ playoff hopes are starting to look really dismal. It wasn’t for a lack of trying tonight, as they threw 41 shots at Carey Price. Unfortunately for them, Price stopped all but one of those shots as Montreal won the third of their last four games.
Speaking of great goaltending performances that underscored the opposition’s rapidly declining hopes, Cam Ward did one better than Price (literally) by stopping 41 Panthers shots to keep the Hurricanes ahead of the charging Sabres. Cory Stillman is already paying dividends back with his own team, as he had a hand in both goals (one goal and one assist).
The Sabres kept pace with the Hurricanes (they’re only two points behind them with two games in hand) and also pulled the Rangers closer to them thanks to a tough win to begin their seven-game road trip. Three of the game’s five goals were scored on the man advantage, as Ryan Miller (29 saves) guided Buffalo to two more points.
Alex Ovechkin continued his resurgence, with two points (one goal and one assist) including the overtime game-winner. Michal Neuvirth made 28 saves to help his team as Semyon Varlamov continues to be on the mend.
Remember when Tim Thomas wasn’t living up to his contract and Tuukka Rask stole his job? Last season seems like a long time ago, but the Finnish backup is helping his team, as he beat the Senators and Oilers in two straight potential trap games. Rask stopped all 33 shots for the win to keep Boston six points ahead of Montreal.
Miikka Kiprusoff had a much larger margin of error than his countryman Rask, but he also earned a shutout tonight on 25 saves. This game continued a theme of contending teams beating fading tweeners, although the Flames opted for “soul-crushing victory” over eking out a win. Jarome Iginla scored two goals and two assists, as his red-hot line totaled 10 points. Kipper also shut out St. Louis on Sunday.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.