Tag: game recaps

Jimmy Howard, Erik Cole

East playoff update: Canes beat Red Wings, Capitals and Bruins also win

Eastern Conference playoff race

y-1. Washington – 107 pts (1 GR)
x-2. Philadelphia 103 pts (2 GR)
y-3. Boston – 101 pts (2 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 102 pts (2 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 99 pts (2 GR)
x-6. Montreal – 93 pts (2 GR)
7. Buffalo – 92 pts (2 GR)
8. NY Rangers – 91 pts (2 GR)
9. Carolina – 89 pts (2 GR)

y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining

Carolina 3, Detroit 0

Read the full recap here.

The Hurricanes pulled within two points of the eighth place New York Rangers, giving them a chance to make the playoffs. Carolina more or less needs to win their final two games – preferably both in regulation – while the Rangers need to drop a game in regulation. There are some other convoluted ways that Buffalo can make it, but we’ll take a wait-and-see approach before filling your noggins with unnecessary hypothetical situations.

Washington 5, Florida 2

The Capitals didn’t make their own schedule, but in a way, you almost wonder if they kept these final two games in storage. After all, is there a better way to rest up for the playoffs (while improving your odds of getting the top seed) than bullying the crummy Panthers twice? Washington now holds a four point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for the top spot in the East, although Philly does have a game in hand.

That extra game left won’t mean anything if Washington manages a single point from their contest against Florida on Saturday … if the Flyers even push them that far.

As for the actual game itself, Semyon Varlamov kept the Panthers off the board in the first period despite an 18-6 shot discrepancy, allowing the Caps to cruise to victory. Varlamov finished with 31 saves while Alex Ovechkin had an empty-net goal and two assists in the win.

Boston 3, NY Islanders 2

This Bruins win makes things a little bit worse for the idle Flyers, as Boston now only trails Philadelphia by two points for the second seed in the East. Both teams have two games left and the Flyers have a shaky tiebreaker advantage (more wins, but the same amount of non-shootout wins), so it’s perfectly possible for the B’s take the No. 2 seed.

Is it likely? Maybe. The Bruins play two bottom feeders who have been intermittently dangerous (Ottawa and New Jersey) while the Flyers play against the Islanders and Sabres. Crazier things have happened … even during the 2010-11 season, actually.

Boston’s win was fueled by their less-frequent scorers, as Shawn Thornton, Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell provided the three goals. Tim Thomas did his best to cleanse that jarring New York Rangers defeat from his memory* by stopping 30 out of 32 shots for his 34th win of the season. Michael Grabner provided both Isles tallies, pushing his season total to 33.

* – Imagine if the Bruins earn the second seed and the Rangers make it to seventh place? One can only speculate as to how many times sports channels will replay New York’s five unanswered goals.

Carolina takes care of business, Henrik Zetterberg leaves with lower body injury

Cam Ward, Jussi Jokinen, Tim Gleason, Valtteri Filppula
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The Detroit Red Wings are playing the role of spoilers this week (along with trying to earn the second seed in the West), but their loss against the Carolina Hurricanes might end up spoiling things for them, instead. That’s because they lost their highest scoring forward in Henrik Zetterberg, who left tonight’s game with a lower body injury.

Zetterberg was shaken up by a Bryan Allen hit during the first period and did not return to the game.

That’s the risk you take when you play your best players against a desperate team, as Cam Ward and the Hurricanes shut out the Red Wings 3-0 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Carolina 3, Detroit 0

Derek Joslin started things off with a second period goal, while Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole also found the twine in a huge game at home. Eric Staal made his presence felt in a game some worried he might miss, earning assists on every tally.

Jimmy Howard was solid in keeping the Red Wings in the game, but Ward stole the show for his team by stopping all 42 Detroit shots. I’ve said this before, but it must be mentioned again: Ward would put up truly elite numbers if he played for a more defensively responsible team.

This win leaves the Hurricanes at 89 points with two games left, keeping themselves in the hunt for one of the two final Eastern playoff spots with the seventh place Buffalo Sabres (92 points with two games remaining) and the eighth place New York Rangers (91 points with two games left). We’ll provide a little more insight about the team’s chances in a post later tonight.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear how severe Zetterberg’s injury is, but losing him would be a very tough thing for the Red Wings to handle. The Swedish star is quietly leading the team with 80 points this season (good for eighth in the league), as the team leaned on him more than usual thanks to Pavel Datsyuk’s periodic injuries. Hopefully the Jared Leto lookalike will be day-to-day at worst.

This loss keeps Detroit in third place in the West, with one less point and one less game remaining than the second place San Jose Sharks. Still, Zetterberg missing an extended period of time would be a much, much bigger loss.

Tonight in the West: Sharks dismantle Kings to clinch Pacific crown

Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau

Western Conference

p-1. Vancouver – 113 pts (3 GR)
y-2. San Jose – 103 pts (3 GR)
y-3. Detroit – 102 pts (3 GR)
4. Phoenix – 96 pts (3 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 96 pts (3 GR)
6. Nashville – 95 pts (3 GR)
7. Anaheim – 93 pts (3 GR)
8. Chicago – 92 pts (4 GR)
9. Calgary – 91 pts (2 GR)
10. Dallas – 89 pts (4 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot

San Jose 6, Los Angeles 1

If tonight’s one-sided game ends up being a first round preview, this battle of California would closely resemble the rivalry between a hammer and a nail.

Simply put, the Sharks were all over the Kings in this game and clinched their fourth consecutive Pacific Division title in the process. Los Angeles came into this game with a chance to clinch a playoff spot, but the outcome wasn’t in doubt for very long, as San Jose raced to a 2-0 lead in the first period and then answered the Kings’ 2-1 tally with four more in the second. Not much really happened in the third period, except for some extracurricular activity that included two simultaneous fights (one of those surprisingly included Dan Boyle).

Several Sharks earned two-point games, with Joe Pavelski and Marc-Edouard Vlasic ranking among the players who earned a point and assist each. Joe Thornton also accomplished that task, pushing his career regular season points total to 999.

It wasn’t a great night for Kings goalies, as Jonathan Quick was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots while Jonathan Bernier allowed two more on 19. Meanwhile, Antti Niemi made 30 out of 31 saves to earn his 34th win of the 2010-11 season. (So much for a sophomore slump for the Stanley Cup winner, eh?)

Statistically speaking, Willie Mitchell might have had the worst night with a -4 rating, but few Kings players have a reason to keep their heads high in this one. They are virtually guaranteed a playoff spot at this point, but playing this way without Anze Kopitar makes one wonder if they will be able to make much noise in the merciless West.

Then again, crazy things can happen in the playoffs, and the Kings have the kind of stingy defense and goaltending potential to be a nuisance if the bounces go their way. (I’m not saying I would bet on it, though.)

The Sharks moved into second place in the West while the Kings slid down to fifth place since the Phoenix Coyotes hold the non-shootout win tiebreaker. It seems like this game was an example of two teams moving in different directions, but we’ll see once the playoffs begin.

East update: Rangers storm back from 3-0 deficit for shocking win against Bruins

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers

Eastern Conference

x-1. Philadelphia 103 pts (3 GR)
x-2. Washington – 103 pts (3 GR)
y-3. Boston – 99 pts (3 GR)
x-4. Pittsburgh – 100 pts (3 GR)
x-5. Tampa Bay – 99 pts (3 GR)
6. Montreal – 91 pts (3 GR)
7. NY Rangers – 91 pts (2 GR)
8. Buffalo – 90 pts (3 GR)
9. Carolina – 87 pts (3 GR)
10. Toronto – 84 pts (3 GR)

y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot

NY Rangers 5, Boston 3

After the first period, the New York Rangers looked like they might sleepwalk to a compromising defeat. Yet by the end of this game, it was the Boston Bruins who were left Madison Square Garden wondering what exactly happened to their game.

The Rangers were down 3-0 in the middle of the second period thanks in large part to a flat start, but this scrappy bunch of overachievers simply refused to give up. New York scored five unanswered goals to win the game, including three tallies during a three minute frenzy in the third period.

It might be an understatement to say that it was a raucous scene at MSG as the Rangers scored some goals that Bruins goalie Tim Thomas hopes to forget.

Vinny Prospal and Wojtek Wolski were unlikely heroes for the Rangers, as Propsal scored their first two goals while Wolski provided those primary assists. Brandon Dubinsky began that three-goal flurry, but it was Mike Sauer’s trickling goal that won the game and dropped a few jaws in the process. Derek Stepan put the cherry on top with an empty-net goal, leaving the Bruins powerless to stop the amazing momentum built up by the Rangers.

While this game won’t be part of the Vezina Trophy nominee highlight reel for Thomas, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 out of 30 shots for his 35th win of the 2010-11 season.

This win doesn’t clinch a playoff berth for the Rangers, but gutting out all four points in a tough back-to-back duo of contests leaves New York in seventh place with 91 points and two games left. The Buffalo Sabres are just behind them at eighth with 90 points and three games remaining, while the Carolina Hurricanes now need help to make it to the postseason. (Carolina has 87 points with three games left.)

If you’re a hopeful Toronto Maple Leafs fan, the news isn’t great. The Sabres only need one point to eliminate the Leafs from playoff contention, while the Rangers already have one more point than Toronto’s maximum season total of 90.

Game of the Week: This time around, Rangers win shootout against Flyers

Wojtek Wolski

Of course, this game just had to end in a shootout, didn’t it?

Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers prevailed in a dramatic – if a bit unsettling – shootout against the New York Rangers to earn a playoff spot while booting the Rangers out of the postseason. This afternoon’s skills competition didn’t have the same consequences for the Flyers, but the Rangers earned a huge two points with their win against Philadelphia in the NBC Game of the Week.

New York 3, Philadelphia 2 (SO)

Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski scored in the shootout for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist turned aside both of Philadelphia’s attempts. The Flyers managed to wrestle a point out of this game thanks to a Nik Zherdev goal in the third period, as the hot-and-cold Russian connected thanks to a beautiful pass by Claude Giroux.

Bryan McCabe and Ruslan Fedotenko scored the Rangers’ two regulation goals while James Van Riemsdyk found the twine for Philly’s other tally. Both Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 out of 34 saves, but Lundqvist earned his 34th win of the season today.

With this win, the Rangers move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 89 points with three games left. This gives them a one-point lead over the eighth place Buffalo Sabres (88 points with four games remaining), a three-point lead over the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes (86 with four games left) and a five point margin over the 10th place Toronto Maple Leafs (84 with three games remaining). It also pulls them to within two points of the sixth-place Montreal Canadiens (91 points with three games left). The only drawback is that they didn’t earn a non-shootout win, which could be a problem if they end up needing a tiebreaker.

For more on the Rangers’ chances of surviving the playoff bubble battle, read this post.

While the Flyers would have preferred to earn the win, they actually moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference thanks to the charity point because they have one more non-shootout win than the Washington Capitals. Both teams have three games left on their schedules, so it should be a fun race to watch (check out the details of their home stretch runs here).

This was a big win for the Rangers, but both New York and Philadelphia still have a challenging week ahead of themselves. Stick with PHT for the lowdown on all the playoff races and tune into NBC at 12:30 pm ET to see what could be a huge game for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Detroit Red Wings next Sunday.