When Mikko Koivu was initially sidelined due to a shoulder injury in mid-January, the Wild were still very much in the fight for a roster spot. They had been struggling, but they still had hope. Koivu only played in four games over the course of two months before he returned on March 22. The Wild won that game, but it’s too late for them. Hope is a thing of the past for this club and now all that’s left is for them to play for their paycheck, pride, and the chance to be a spoiler. That last one is huge on Sunday because while their upcoming matchup can’t save the Wild’s season, it will be vital to their opponents, the Washington Capitals (5:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
Washington is still in the thick of the race for one of the final spots in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve certainly made life hard on themselves by losing four of their last five contests. Most recently, they had a chance to all-but crush the rival Winnipeg Jets’ playoff hopes, but ended up allowing four unanswered goals in a 4-3 overtime victory for the Jets.
The Capitals have been struggling lately despite the fact that Alex Ovechkin has been playing like his old self. He has scored eight times in his last six contests and is currently on a four-game goal scoring streak. This season will be seen as another disappointment by the high standards we all hold Ovechkin to. However, he did reach the 35-goal mark on Friday and is the big reason the Capitals even ended up with a point in that contest.
Although he isn’t expected to play in Sunday’s contest, Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) has been given the green light to fully participate in practices. That should provide Washington with a bit of extra inspiration. If the Capitals can bounce back and stay in the playoff race, then Backstrom’s potential return might ultimately mean far more for his team than Koivu’s did for his already sunk club.
Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut
“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day
The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.
But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.
“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.
“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”
7 hours of back and forth legal speak…otherwise known as the Wideman appeal has concluded in NYC.