Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Tuukka Rask have been named the NHL’s three stars for the month of January, the league announced on Monday.
Ovechkin led all players with 12 goals, six power-play markers and 59 shots on goal to power the Capitals (25-15-10, 60 points) to a 7-3-3 January and the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tavares shared third in the NHL with 16 points (8-8—16) in 12 games to lead the Islanders (32-16-1, 65 points) to a 7-5-0 January and the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Rask went 7-1-3 with a 1.61 goals-against average, .949 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Bruins (27-16-7, 61 points) to an 8-1-3 January and the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Also worth noting that, with his two goals against St. Louis on Sunday, Ovechkin became the fifth player in NHL history to record at least 30 goals in each of his first 10 seasons, joining Mike Gartner (15), Wayne Gretzky (13), Mike Bossy (10) and Jari Kurri (10).
While the Minnesota Wild remain longish shots to make the playoffs, they sure didn’t hurt their postseason chances by sweeping a three-game trip to Western Canada — a trip that included regulation wins over Calgary and Vancouver, arguably the two most vulnerable teams currently in a playoff position.
Sunday against the Canucks, the Wild were outshot 37-20 but managed a 4-2 victory thanks in large part to the play of goalie Devan Dubnyk, who’s been outstanding since joining the team in a trade with Arizona on Jan. 14.
“Confidence is one thing and a lot of credit has to go to (Dubnyk),” said Wild coach Mike Yeo.
And some of the credit has to go to GM Chuck Fletcher, who got the 28-year-old from the Coyotes for a third-round draft pick.
Among the 31 NHL goalies that have played the most this season, Dubnyk ranks eighth in five-on-five save percentage, right between Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask. Which isn’t terrible company to keep.
Whether Fletcher waited too long to make a move is a fair question to ask. By the time Dubnyk was acquired, the Wild had dropped 12 of 14 and fallen eight points out of a playoff spot. Today, after winning five of seven, the deficit has been cut to five points.
To give themselves a good chance at playing in the postseason, the Wild will need to go in the neighborhood of 19-11-3 in their final 33 games.
Not easy. But certainly doable.
Minnesota opens a three-game home stand tomorrow against Chicago (on NBCSN).
Tuukka Rask hasn’t been unbeatable of late, but he’s been close.
Following a 43-save performance against the New York Islanders on Thursday, the Boston Bruins goalie made 30 saves in a 3-1 victory over the L.A. Kings on Saturday, giving Rask seven victories in the month of January.
Brad Marchand had a pair of goals and seven shots on goal, and now has four points in his last five games.
The wins are important. That’s obvious. But Rask has recently shut the door on opposing shooters, allowing three goals in a game only twice in his last 11 starts this month. It’s a big reason why the Bruins were able to work their way out of previous struggles and back into a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Boston forward Loui Eriksson left the game late in the third period after taking a hard Robyn Regehr hit into the boards. It looked like Regehr’s right arm caught Eriksson near the back of the net.
According to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, Boston’s coach Claude Julien didn’t have an update on Eriksson but said he might have a sore neck.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Smith seeks better showing against Ottawa
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith surrendered five goals on 33 shots on Jan. 10 against the Senators, but he’ll be back between the pipes tonight in Ottawa. Smith has started in every game since Devan Dubnyk was traded to Minnesota.
Smith has struggled mightily this season, posting a 3.41 GAA and .890 save percentage in 33 contests, but he held Toronto to a single goal on Thursday, so this is an opportunity for him to string a couple good games together.
Ottawa will counter with Robin Lehner.
Islanders at Red Wings: Chad Johnson vs. Petr Mrazek
Kings at Bruins: Jonathan Quick is the probable goaltender against Tuukka Rask.
Panthers at Devils: Roberto Luongo vs. Keith Kinkaid
Canes at Rangers: Neither goaltender is confirmed, but it will probably be Cam Ward facing Henrik Lundqvist.
Leafs at Flyers: James Reimer vs. Steve Mason
Stars at Jets: It’s believed that Kari Lehtonen will play against Michael Hutchinson.
Blue Jackets at Lightning: Curtis McElhinney and Ben Bishop are both considered probable.
Oilers at Flames: No word on who Edmonton will go with, but Calgary will send out Jonas Hiller.
Hawks at Sharks: Chicago will start Antti Raanta. San Jose’s starter remains a mystery, although odds are it will end up being Antti Niemi.
The Boston Bruins have decided to send goaltender Niklas Svedberg to AHL Providence so that he can participate in a conditioning stint, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Top prospect Malcolm Subban has been summoned to serve as the team’s number two netminder in his absence.
Svedberg is a 25-year-old rookie that’s had a strong season with a 2.22 GAA and .922 save percentage in 12 contests. However, the Bruins have been justifiably leaning on Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Tuukka Rask and Svedberg has only gotten one January start as a result.
So this is an opportunity for Svedberg to stay sharp by getting some work in the minors, but it’s also a chance to reward 21-year-old Subban. He has a 2.47 GAA and .921 save percentage in 22 AHL games this season and was selected as the AHL Player of the Week for Jan. 19-25 after he recorded a 0.99 GAA and .967 save percentage in three starts.
Depending on how long Svedberg’s conditioning stint lasts, Subban might make his NHL debut during this stint as Boston is scheduled to play three games in four days from Feb. 7-10. Subban was taken with the 24th overall pick in 2012 and is the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.