The Vancouver Canucks beat Nashville 5-2 on Monday, officially killing the Predators’ playoff hopes in the process.
Barry Trotz’s bunch didn’t exactly go down swinging. This defeat marks their seventh consecutive regulation loss. They’ve only won one game in their last 11 tries (1-8-2).
It’s tempting to say that it all truly started to fall apart after the Minnesota Wild took a 2-1 shootout win in Ryan Suter’s return to Nashville on March 9. The Predators entered that game with a 10-9-5 record. Nashville went 5-12-3 since then.
However you frame the story, it’s clear that the Predators have endured a miserable season.
As one might guess, offense was a problem – they’re averaging the least amount of goals per game in the NHL – but the team hasn’t been very strong on defense, either. Only two Western Conference teams – the Calgary Flames (141 goals allowed) and Colorado Avalanche (131 goals allowed) – have given up more goals in 2013 than the usually stingy Preds.
Even $7 million goaltender Pekka Rinne has had his struggles this season.
If there’s a bright side to look on, it’s that young players such as Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque are starting to become go-to guys on the team (at least when they’re healthy). GM David Poile might get a chance to add another blue chip talent with an unusually high pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, too.
Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.
With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.
Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:
Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.
It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.
The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.
To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.
Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:
CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.
Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.
The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal: