Montreal Canadiens v Washington Capitals

Caps still gunning for Southeast Division crown


While the Washington Captials’ primary focus is simply making the playoffs — they can clinch with a win tonight in Tampa and a Buffalo loss Tuesday night against Toronto — the team can’t help but wonder if something larger is within reach.

According to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormely, it definitely is.

The Florida Panthers have lost six of their last seven, opening the door for a once-improbable notion — Washington winning its fifth straight Southeast Division banner.

The Capitals would need any combination of six points gained by the Caps or lost by the Panthers. That means the Caps can clinch the division title by winning their final three games against Tampa, Florida and the Rangers no matter what Florida does because they hold the first tiebreaker on the Panthers with more non-shootout victories.

However, if the Capitals lose in regulation tonight and the Panthers win at home against Winnipeg on Tuesday, the Panthers would go five points up on the Caps and clinch the Southeast, regardless of Thursday night’s outcome between the two teams.

Here’s another look at the remaining schedules for the Caps, Sabres and Panthers:

Capitals (88 points)         Sabres (86 points)    Panthers (91 points)
at Tampa Bay                            Toronto                             Winnipeg
Florida                                        at Philadelphia                at Capitals
at NY Rangers                          at Boston                           Carolina     

(NOTE: We realize Gormely’s math is a little off. Even if the Caps beat Florida, the Panthers can still finish with 95 points with wins over the Jets and ‘Canes. The Caps, meanwhile, can only hit a maximum of 94.)

As it stands, Washington can finish in three positions — third, seventh or eighth — and based on regular-season results, it might actually serve the Caps best to finish as the N0. 7 seed and play Boston in the first round.

The Capitals 3-1 against the Bruins this season, compared to 1-2 against the Rangers (who would be their first-round opponent if they finish eighth) and 1-1-2 against the Devils (who would be their first-round opponent if they finish third.)

Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’


Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.