The Phoenix Coyotes’ grasp on the Western Conference’s final wild card spot didn’t last very long as the Dallas Stars took the lead back with an impressive 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
The Stars opened things up with a 3-0 lead in the first period, as Jamie Benn was involved in all three opening goals (two goals, one assist) while Tyler Seguin collected one goal and one assist. The Lightning made things a little tense in the second period by bringing the deficit down to 3-2, but Dallas pulled away in the final frame.
The Stars managed to shake off Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, continuing what’s generally been a hot streak since March 22. In that time, they’ve won six of their last eight games. They’ve been successful so far in their current five-game road trip, too, winning three of four before tomorrow’s game in Florida wraps that up.
Dallas can really distance itself during a three-game homestand before they face the Coyotes in Phoenix in a game that could very well decide a playoff spot.
A chance to pull away
The Stars are in a position to pull away altogether if they can stay on task.
Dallas now has 87 points on the season with five games left while Phoenix is seated at 86 standings points with four games remaining. That advantage is even greater since Dallas has some obvious tiebreaker advantages at the moment, including wins (38-36) and regulation/overtime wins (35-30).
In other words, the Stars are currently in control of things, but this battle for the West’s final spot has seen some dramatic swings both ways. Few would be surprised if there are a few more twists and turns, whether April 13’s closing game decides it all or not.
It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.
For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.
After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.
Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.
Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:
Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins
Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals
Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.
Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.
The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.
(Check out video of the hit above.)
The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.
Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?
Washington currently leads the game 3-2.
There are plenty of hazards on an NHL rink even if you’re not a player.
Barry Trotz ranks among the coaches who’ve been hit by pucks, though he’s one of the tiny sliver of humans who would shake off a puck to the forehead. It can be dangerous for officials, too, whether it means a wayward puck or wayward player.
The latest example comes in the form of linesman Steve Miller needing help off the ice after a puck hit him in the knee area. As you can see from the video, it looked like he was in serious pain.
It’s refreshing that hockey fans have, for the most part, moved on from debating Tyler Bozak‘s merits.
The general feeling is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him in appropriate ways these days, so we can simply enjoy his work as a pretty spiffy hockey player.
Speaking of spiffy, check out the sweet moves he made against the Minnesota Wild for the goal above. Feels like you could dub over a Chris Berman “whoop” or two in there, right?
(If you’re into that kind of thing.)
Here’s that gaudy move in isolation and in GIF form: