Adam Henrique, Jakub Voracek

Devils, Flyers react to momentum shifts in Game 1

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For about half of Game 1’s opening period, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers were sleepwalking from a week-long playoff hibernation. In that time, the New Jersey Devils generated a 1-0 lead and 11-0 shot advantage, a start that Claude Giroux called “embarrassing” and “not acceptable.”

The story of the 4-3 Flyers’ OT win ended up being how the two teams played after that subdued start, though.

Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette was pleased that his team bounced back from that bumbling beginning to dominate the majority of the contest and eventually take the win.

“I’m happy to see the response from the team after the first period and in the last 45 minutes of play,” Laviolette said.

Game 1 revealed both sides of the long layoff vs. short rest coin. The Flyers seemed to hit the snooze button a couple extra times but an aging Devils team might have shown some fatigue from going into double OT in a Game 7 on Thursday. New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer didn’t use that as an excuse, but he admitted that the Devils couldn’t keep up the momentum of a good start, according to Tom Gulitti.

“We couldn’t sustain what we did in the first period,” DeBoer said. “They took the game over in the second half and when you’re just hanging on, that’s what happens.”

Ilya Kovalchuk was the scapegoat in many peoples’ eyes, even if defensemen such as Marek Zidlicky and Peter Harrold had blunders of their own. Kovalchuk seemed to sum up the way things went for the Devils, whether he held some of the blame or not.

“We kind of just started sitting back and you can’t do that against this team,” Kovalchuk said.

That’s certainly true. It seems like coming back from an early deficit is becoming the Flyers’ natural habitat.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
AP
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.