Given he’s only played nine games in February and March combined, it’s easy to understand why Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard wants to look forward — not back — as he prepares to start against Nashville on Friday.
“I’m just going out there and forgetting about the past here, the last month and a half,” Howard told the Macomb Daily. “I think I’m prepared, I’ve been working hard to get back there, I’ve been working hard on the ice. I’m just going to go out there and play.”
Detroit’s had a rotating door in goal throughout March. It started with Howard recording a 6-0 shutout win over Minnesota, before a reoccurring groin injury put him out of the lineup. That opened the door for Joey MacDonald, the goalie of record in five of the next six games until Howard returned to play in losses to San Jose (on Mar. 17) and Washington (Mar. 19)…before hurting his groin again.
Just one problem — MacDonald had injured his back. That forced Detroit to call up Ty Conklin from Grand Rapids and start him in each of the last four games, because the Wings wanted to make sure they didn’t rush Howard back into action.
Conklin responded well, going 2-1-1, but it’s now Howard’s time to reclaim the net.
“The second time around we took a different approach, more strengthening it, it feels a lot stronger out there,” he said of his groin injury. “I know what I’m capable of doing out there. It’s just going out there and doing it again.
“Everybody wants to feel great going into the playoffs. What’s going to be key for me over the next four games is getting back to where I was before the injuries.
“Today was the date from the start we were targeting. Four to five games left, chance to get back out there and get into game shape.”
Sharks grind out win, make life difficult for Kings
If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet again, it will be in the playoffs. If they do so, the Sharks will hold quite a bit of a recent edge.
They defeated them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs and won the 2016-17 season series with the Kings after beating L.A. in a tight 3-2 affair on Wednesday.
During a week where leads have been flimsy and goals came in flurries, this one started off pretty hot. The Sharks generated a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Joe Pavelski‘s goal ultimately standing as the game-winner.
The Sharks won after a scoreless third period, keeping them in a position to take back first place in the Pacific Division:
1. Ducks – 59 points in 47 games
2. Oilers – 57 in 47
3. Sharks – 56 in 45
San Jose has an opportunity to make up that ground with its games in hand. The Kings, on the other hand, see their margin of error for a wild card spot dwindling:
Second wild card spot: Kings, 48 points in 45 games
Canucks – 48 in 46
Predators – 47 in 44
Stars – 46 in 46
Jets – 46 in 48
The Sharks made life easier for themselves while making it tougher for the Kings. If that’s the end of their interactions for 2016-17, Sharks fans should be quite happy.
Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties
Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.
To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:
(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)
Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.
Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.
Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.
#RedWings win a game after allowing 4 first-period goals for the first time since November 1, 1991 vs Hartford
PHT brings you the hard-hitting math, as you know, so here’s the latest burst: Connor McDavid is more than a point-per-game player.
You see, he scored the 100th point of his promising NHL career, and he did so in just his 92nd career game on Wednesday. Let us remind you that he’s just 20 years old (and he turned 20 on Jan. 13). Yeah.
Point 100 came on via an assist on a Zack Kassian goal as the Edmonton Oilers went up 1-0 against the Florida Panthers.
Here’s the clip:
Update: There’s debate regarding whether McDavid’s overtime-winner should have counted or not, but either way, it’s impressive that he generated a goal and an assist after hitting the 100-point mark. So it’s now 102 points in 92 games.