Lightning lose to Flyers, lose J.T. Brown to Wayne Simmonds hit


The Tampa Bay Lightning were facing a pretty huge game in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

They entered the day just three points back of the Flyers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (and two points back of Toronto for the third spot in the Atlantic Division) and had a chance to close some significant ground on a team they are chasing in the standings.

Things even got off to a strong start when a Nikita Kucherov goal gave them an early first period lead. Then everything kind of fell apart for them as they gave up three consecutive goals on their way to a rather lackluster 4-2 loss.

It was a particularly poor showing for the Lightning in a pretty important game that they not only failed to gain a point in, but were also badly outplayed for much of day.

Making matters worse is that they lost another forward to an injury when J.T. Brown had to leave the game in the third period following this hit from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Simmonds was not penalized on the play and Brown did not return to the game after the hit.

Since there was pretty clear contact with the head you can bet that it is already being reviewed by the NHL’s department of player safety. It is just a matter of whether or not the deem it to be worthy of discipline. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game that it was a “tough” hit and that what he says about it “doesn’t matter.”

If Brown can not play on Sunday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Final it would be another injury for a Tampa Bay team that has been crushed by injuries at different times this season. The team has been forced them to have three different players make their NHL debut over the past three weeks.

But what should be concerning about Saturday’s game isn’t just the fact that they lost, it is that they were outplayed against a team that had lost five in a row and seven out of eight, on a day where they really needed a win, with several of their top players back in the lineup. Yes, Steven Stamkos, Ben Bishop, and Brian Boyle were not there. But they still had Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Valtteri Filppula, Victor Hedman, and Anton Stralman in there. They should have been able to get more than they did out of that group.

With the loss the Lightning are now 19-18-4 on the season and are five points back of the Flyers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

They remain two points back of the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division, but the Maple Leafs can increase that lead on Saturday night with a win against Montreal while they will also still have two games in hand after Saturday.


Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

1 Comment

Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

1 Comment

Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers


The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

1 Comment

Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.