Maybe it wasn’t Mason’s equipment after all

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Remember a couple of weeks ago when Steve Mason’s new equipment was being credited for his improved play?

For those that need to refresh their memories, an excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch’s story:

“We totally redesigned his equipment,” goaltending coach Ian Clark said. “He was playing undersized relative to league limits.”

So Mason got a makeover last month. He changed every piece of his equipment, save for his helmet, donned looser pants and went between the pipes for a game at Minnesota on Feb. 11.

The results were immediate.

Mason stopped 34 of 35 shots and won a game for the first time since December. It was the first victory in his resurgence, during which he has gone 7-3-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He had won only five of his previous 22 games, when his stats were somewhere south of dismal.

Long story short, his stats have re-migrated south of dismal. Mason was yanked for the second straight game last night in Detroit. Since the story broke about his new pads, he’s allowed 22 goals on 188 shots (.882 save percentage.)

Mason has, however, had a couple of excellent performances mixed in with the miserable ones. Friday versus Carolina, he stopped 39 of 40 shots in the Jackets’ 5-1 win. March 18 in Calgary, he was named first star in a 2-1 shootout win over the Flames.

So what’s GM Scott Howson to do this summer? Assuming he keeps his job, that is, does he pursue a young goalie like Cory Schneider or Jonathan Bernier and officially give up on Mason, or does he bring in a veteran stopgap and give the former Calder Trophy recipient another shot?

If it were me, I’d go with the first option. But it’s not me, and I’ve stopped trying to predict what the Jackets are going to do.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.