The Washington Capitals still have a great chance to make the playoffs, but Friday stopped a momentum-building week with a thud. The New Jersey Devils slammed the door harshly on the Caps’ three-game winning streak, handing them a 5-0 defeat in another non-statement game for Washington.
Zach Parise got banged up a bit in the contest, but not before scoring a hat trick by the three-minute mark of the second period. It turned out that New Jersey would only need his first tally, which came on the power-play in the first frame.
While the Philadelphia Flyers hold the tie-breaker because they have an extra game in hand, Philly and New Jersey are essentially tied for fifth place in the East with 77 points.
The Capitals squandered an opportunity to take Winnipeg’s eighth spot as the Jets remain ahead of them with 70 to the Caps’ 69 standings points. Washington still has two games in hand, but a loss like this could set up a photo finish.
It might not just be between Washington and Winnipeg, either. The Toronto Maple Leafs made a desperate plea to get in the mix by changing head coaches while the Tampa Bay Lightning just beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime to climb into 10th place with 67 points.
There’s still more than a month to go, but if the Caps fail to make the postseason, they’ll look at games like these will plenty of remorse.
No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.
Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.
They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.
On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.
Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.
Perhaps some of that has to do with health?
Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.
“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”
He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.
You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.
Here are the handy links for the two contests.
First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.
Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.
“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”
Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.
Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.
Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.
Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer