The Buzzer: Niederreiter keeps scoring; Atkinson lifts Blue Jackets into wildcard spot

Associated Press
2 Comments

Three stars

1. Nino Niederreiter, Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes were going to need a hell of a performance against the Nashville Predators to beat them a night after the Canes dropped an 8-1 decision against the Winnipeg Jets.

Playing the top two teams in the Central Division on consecutive days seems like an unfair lot in life, but the Hurricanes swept aside their embarrassing loss on Friday and putting together a fine display in a 5-3 win on Saturday, helping them stay in third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Niederreiter led the way, scoring twice in the first period to declare Carolina’s intent. ‘El Nino’ has been lights out since he was traded to Raleigh from Minnesota. He has 11 goals and 10 assists in 22 games since the move.

2. Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets

With the Blue Jackets struggling recently, Atkinson used a four-letter word to explain that the team needed to screw it on straight and start winning again. After losing to the Penguins on Thursday, Columbus needed a bounceback to climb back into a playoff spot and they got just that, with Atkinson scoring twice in a 4-1 win as the Blue Jackets moved into the second and final wildcard in the Eastern Conference, level on points with the Montreal Canadiens (who lost on Saturday), who have an inferior number of ROWs.

3. Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche

The Avs needed this one, if only to lift their spirits after the loss of Gabriel Landeskog for the remainder of the regular season.

Grubauer stood tall, making the 18 saves required of him in a 3-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres. The win moved the Avalanche to within two points of the final wildcard in the Western Conference.

It’s a long shot, especially with their captain lost to injury, but Nathan MacKinnon picked up the slack in this one, putting up points on all three goals to make sure Grubauer had the run support.

Highlights of the night

One of two incredible paddles saves by Matt Murray in Pittsburgh’s loss:

Scott Hartnell ceremonial faceoffs are the best ceremonial faceoffs:

When you get knocked down, always get back up:

Dirty pass, filthy goal:

So close…

Factoids

Scores

Avalanche 3, Sabres 0
Sharks 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 3, Oilers 2
Bruins 3, Senators 2
Lightning 3, Red Wings 2
Flyers 5, Islanders 2
Rangers 4, Devils 2
Blue Jackets 4, Penguins 1
Coyotes 4, Kings 2
Hurricanes 5, Predators 3
Blackhawks 2, Stars 1
Golden Knights 6, Canucks 2


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck