Well, a first-round playoff series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals could be spicy — if Wednesday’s game was any indication.
Down a goal after Alex Ovechkin ripped home his 44th of the season early in the third period, the Flyers came back to earn a 2-1 shootout victory in a thriller that included killing off a full four-on-three Washington power play in the overtime period.
Nick Cousins and Sam Gagner scored for Philadelphia in the shootout, while Steve Mason stopped T.J. Oshie and then robbed Evgeny Kuznetsov with the glove save, adding a little flare to it at the end.
That’s a huge win for Philadelphia. (Understatement.)
The Flyers move two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and that’s still with a game in hand on the Red Wings and six remaining on their schedule.
Now, as for that possible first-round match-up? As it stands now, it would be the Flyers facing the top-ranked Capitals in the opening round, which could make for a fun series between the two Metropolitan teams.
There was great goaltending between Mason and Braden Holtby and a physical-bordering-on-nasty element to this game, with Jason Chimera catching Shayne Gostisbehere with the butt-end of his stick to the midsection of the Flyers rookie.
Maybe Jason Chimera was trying to be subtle. But with video replay, not much gets overlooked.
The veteran Washington Capitals forward got away with poking Philadelphia Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere with the butt-end of his stick to the midsection during a stoppage in play in the second period of Wednesday’s game.
There was no call on the play. Gostisbehere went down, got back up and had some choice words for Chimera.
Technically, there is still a sliver of hope. Mathematically, the Ottawa Senators remain alive in the playoff race. For how much longer, though?
The Senators are the lone Canadian team still in a playoff race following a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. The Sens were without forward Mark Stone for the third period after he was on the receiving end of a massive hit from Dustin Byfuglien in the second period.
With the win, the Senators moved eight points back of the Philadelphia Flyers, the final Wild Card team in the Eastern Conference, with five games remaining on their schedule. The Flyers were still in action versus Washington at the same time this game was wrapping up.
If (or when) the Senators don’t make the playoffs, it would mark the first time since 1970 that not a single Canadian NHL team would qualify for the post-season.
Updated: The Flyers came back to defeat the Washington Capitals in the shootout later in the evening, which eliminates the Senators from playoff contention.
At six-foot-five-inches tall and 260 pounds, Dustin Byfuglien can provide unique talent to the National Hockey League. He’s also capable of being a physical beast, as Mark Stone found out Wednesday.
Stone was rushing the puck through the neutral zone when Byfuglien stepped up just before the Winnipeg blue line and threw a devastating hit on the Ottawa Senators forward during the second period.
The massive collision brought about a scrum along the boards, however there was no penalty for the initial hit. Stone left the game but did return.
Updated: The Senators have since updated Stone’s condition. He left once again and will not return to Wednesday’s game due to a chest injury.
What a difference a change of scenery can make.
Take Trevor Daley for example: It was November when his name really started circulating through the trade rumor mill while he was with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that acquired him from Dallas in the Patrick Sharp deal last summer.
In 29 games with Chicago, Daley failed to score a goal. He had six points.
“You went from a situation in Dallas where you were getting a lot of minutes and playing in those situations to suddenly not getting them [in Chicago], and for me to say I didn’t lose confidence? I lost a lot of confidence,” he recently told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
Things changed for the better for Daley, when he was traded to Pittsburgh for Rob Scuderi.
Since then, his offensive totals from the blue line have increased substantially.
He has scored six goals with 18 points in 43 games. He’s averaging more than 19 minutes per game in Pittsburgh, compared to the 14:45 of average ice time he received in Chicago.
And the Penguins, winners of six straight and eight of their last 10, have worked their way into third in the Metropolitan Division with the playoffs approaching. A case of peaking at the right time, perhaps?
“When I got to Pittsburgh, I think I came into a good situation with the coaching chance and everybody looking for a fresh start,” Daley told ESPN.