Tuesday’s playoff game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens proved an interesting case study on the topic of momentum in a series.
Based on their roaring comeback to win Game 2, you’d think the Bruins would start to roll on their Original Six adversaries. Didn’t happen that way, as the series shifted back to Montreal. The Habs built up a 2-0 lead after the first period – P.K. Subban scored a beautiful breakaway goal seconds after his penalty expired – and led by three goals at one point.
The Bruins did their best to come back, like they had done in the first two games of this series, with Jarome Iginla making it a one-goal game with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. But time ran out on them in a 4-2 loss. The Canadiens now lead the series 2-1.
“I don’t think we played bad; we just made stupid mistakes,” said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, as per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien wasn’t particularly happy with his team’s start on the road.
“Our team wasn’t good enough at the start to give ourselves a chance here,” said Julien, as per Conor McKenna of TSN 690.
Last night’s game in Newark was mostly notable for the scary situation involving Vancouver’s Philip Larsen, who had to be stretchered off the ice following a devastating hit by Taylor Hall.
But the players played on, and the Devils eventually defeated the Canucks, 3-2.
The victory improved New Jersey’s record at Prudential Center to 8-0-2. The Devils are the only team in the NHL that has yet to lose in regulation at home. They’ve struggled on the road, going 4-7-4.
A quarter of the way through the season, the jury remains out on New Jersey as a legitimate playoff contender. The Devils have just six regulation wins, with four of their victories coming in overtime and two more in the shootout. Only the Panthers (5), Coyotes (4), and Canucks (4) have won fewer games in regulation.
But keeping games close has served the Devils well. Twelve times they’ve been tied after 60 minutes, guaranteeing them at least a point. Heading into tonight’s action, they sit just one point back of Washington for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re in a playoff race,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told reporters this morning ahead of his team’s game with the Bruins (on NBCSN).
The Devils don’t play again until Thursday in Montreal, where a tough stretch starts for John Hynes’ crew. New Jersey returns home to face St. Louis Friday, then it’s back on the road for games at the Rangers, Blues, Senators, and Rangers again.
The Red Wings have played pretty well lately — 5-1-2 in their last eight — and got some good news on Wednesday, as veteran netminder Jimmy Howard was activated off injured reserve.
Howard has been out since Nov. 25 with a groin injury, suffered early in a game against the Devils. He’s missed the last six games as a result, but will — per NHL.com — take part in Thursday’s practice and presumably be ready to dress in time for Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets.
Howard was playing very well prior to getting hurt, posting a 1.82 GAA and .940 save percentage in 12 appearances, 11 of those being starts.
His return means it’s back to AHL Grand Rapids for Jared Coreau, who was recalled a couple weeks ago and made his NHL debut against the Penguins last Saturday, stopping 32 shots in a 5-3 loss. That game was the only one in the last eight in which Detroit failed to secure at least a point.
A big reason for that run was the play of Petr Mrazek. With Howard out, the Czech ‘tender has performed admirably, especially over his last five games — Mrazek has stopped 147 of 158 shots for a .930 save percentage, posting a record of 3-0-2.
The Washington Capitals will get a welcomed injection of offense tonight when T.J. Oshie returns to the lineup against the Boston Bruins (on NBCSN).
Oshie has missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury. The Caps went 3-3-1 without him. In their last four games, they’ve scored just six times.
With eight goals, Oshie is the Caps’ third-leading goal-scorer, after Alex Ovechkin (12) and Marcus Johansson, whose 11th tally of the season beat the Sabres Monday in overtime.
Oshie is expected to skate on a line with Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. Washington’s other top line will feature Ovechkin with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams.
The Caps could also use some scoring from their bottom six, particularly from Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller, who have just two goals each.
Related: Slumping Caps need to turn possession into goals
In the wake of injuries to Rick Nash (groin) and Matt Puempel (concussion), the New York Rangers have recalled winger Nicklas Jensen from AHL Hartford.
Jensen, 23, has yet to play a regular-season game for the Rangers since coming to the organization in a trade with Vancouver. The former first-round draft pick has eight goals and seven assists in 21 games for the Wolf Pack this season.
The Rangers’ next game is Thursday in Winnipeg. They’re expected to have Michael Grabner back by then, after he traveled to Austria for his grandmother’s funeral and missed last night’s loss to the Islanders.
Read more: Jensen feeling good about his game
It remains to be seen if Jensen will be in the lineup tomorrow. But with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich also out injured, this may be an opportunity for Jensen to show he can score in the NHL.
The 29th overall pick in 2011, Jensen played 24 games for the Canucks but managed just three goals and three assists before he was traded last season for Emerson Etem.
Head coach Alain Vigneault said last night that he’d know more today about Nash’s status.
The Rangers also play Friday in Chicago.
Related: Despite winning record, Rangers ‘very aware’ they must be better