The Carolina Hurricanes could not have picked a worse time for a slump if they tried. After losing at home to the Leafs, the Canes are now 1-4-1 in their last six games while they try to lock down the East’s final playoff spot. The biggest problem over the recent stretch is that they can’t score—and Wednesday night was no different. It’s important to give credit where credit is due: James Reimer gave his team a chance to win by stopping 36 of 37 shots. The Leafs were only able to muster 19 shots in the game (by contrast, the Canes had 15 in the 3rd period alone), but were still able to get three pucks past Cam Ward. Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf netted two power play goals to pull Toronto to within 4 points of the final playoff spot.
Detroit snapped the Caps 9-game winning streak in the battle of 2nd place teams. Henrik Zetterberg scored two goals to give him 20 on the season—the second goal was the eventual game winner halfway through the third period. Brian Rafalski returned from an 8-game absence to assist on all three Red Wings goals. For the Caps, it was the first loss in 10 games and the Thursday Morning Quarterbacks will be questioning Bruce Boudreau’s decision to start Michal Neuvirth. Rookie Braden Holtby had been unbelievable in his last five games and, unfortunately for the Caps, Neuvirth gave up a soft goal that didn’t help his cause. Not even a vintage Ovechkin snipe could pull Washington back.
Vancouver 4, Colorado 2
On one side there was a team that had won 6 straight games, is competing for the President’s Trophy, and was looking to become the first team to clinch a playoff spot. On the other side, there was a team that had only won a single game in their last 19. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, they can change that awful statistic to “one win in their last 20 games (1-17-2).” Surprisingly, Colorado was able to jump out early to a 2-0 lead before the Canucks kicked it into gear. When the dust settled, Vancouver had scored 4 unanswered goals and Brian Elliott was left still looking for his first victory in an Avalanche uniform (0-5-1).
Anaheim 2, St. Louis 1
Jason Blake scored both Anaheim goals and Ray Emery stopped 30 of 31 shots in his first start in a Ducks jersey as the Ducks beat the Blues in what people in Orange County were calling a “must-win.” The win helped the Ducks climb into 8th place with 81 points on the season—not to mention they still hold two games in hand on the 9th place Calgary Flames. The Blues fell further as they are sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference (ahead of only Colorado and Edmonton). The season started with so much hope for St. Louis, but it looks like the time has officially come that they start looking forward to next season.