The Blue Jackets have pulled a major shakeup for Thursday’s game in Montreal — veteran forward R.J. Umberger will healthy scratch, per head coach Todd Richards.
It’s a big move considering Umberger, tied for third on the Jackets in goals (18), has been a constant lineup presence throughout the year. He’s appeared in all 68 games and averages 17:34 TOI per game — the only forwards that play more are Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Johansen and Artem Anisimov.
That said, the decision to drop Umberger shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
The 31-year-old has just one point in his last six games and has seen his minutes dip on a few occasions this month. Over a two-game stretch in early March, Umberger played just 13:39 against Toronto and 12:53 against Dallas — and Columbus won both games.
The Jackets are in a fight for their playoff lives, though, so it’s curious to see them drop one of their most veteran presences, especially given his success against Montreal in the past. Umberger has six goals and nine points in 17 career games versus the Canadiens and was a thorn in their side while playing for Philly during the 2008 playoffs, scoring eight goals and nine points in a five-game victory.
Columbus heads into tonight’s action holding the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but tied on points (76) with ninth place Washington and one up on 10th-place Detroit. The Caps take on the Kings in L.A. tonight, while the Wings take on the Penguins at the Joe.
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Despite carrying the play, especially through the first two periods, the Bruins were unable to score and were shut out once again, losing the game on a goal from Marian Hossa with 1:26 remaining in regulation. For the Bruins, that’s a heartbreaker.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.
The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.
“I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”
The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenseman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.
The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.
“It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”
Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.
“All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”
The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.
Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.
“It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”
Rookie defenseman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.
Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.
Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.
Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.
Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.
Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.
Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.
Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. He also becomes just the fourth player from Sweden to hit that number, joining Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Daniel should also reach the mark, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.
Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.
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