NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 24: Goalie Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres makes a on a shot by Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils as teammate David Clarkson #23 looks for a rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Prudential Center on January 24, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
It was a full night of NHL action on Tuesday, with 12 games being played as the league heads into the All-Star break. We provide the final scores and commentary.
Capitals 5, Bruins 3
Since they were drafted (Ovechkin and Green in 2004, Backstrom in 2006), the Caps haven't played a single game without at least one of their "three best players" in the lineup. Needless to say, the storyline for Tuesday night's game against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins (and quite probably the next two games as well) was going to be about whether or not the trio's teammates in the lineup would step up in their absence. And, with a few minor exceptions - and one huge (but at the same time pint-sized) exclamation point - they did just that en route to a somewhat improbable 5-3 win.
Tonight's game could best be described in one word- unfortunate. The game itself wasn't unfortunate- rather incredibly boring (So much so that TG even had to say that it was terrible on twitter). What happened to the Devils was. The Devils outshot the Sabres. They had the better chances. They had a PPG. Yet all they managed was one goal and one point. The Sabres only goal came on an unfortunate bounce off a stanchion right to Jordan Leopold. Everything that could've went wrong went wrong for the Devils. And they lost to the worst team in the east. Going into the All-Star break, the Devils are in a 3 game losing streak, without their best defenseman. Who knows what's going to happen now?
Maple Leafs 4, Islanders 3 (OT)
Maybe competent officiating changes how this 4-3 OT loss goes; you never know.
The Islanders had to waste four minutes preventing the angelic Leafs from getting a shot on their powerplays, while the refs patently ignored or missed multiple highsticks to Islanders faces as well as an absurd Luke Schenn crosscheck to Nino Niederreiter's back away from the play after Nino had the gall to legally bodycheck two of Schenn's teammates.
But this is your NHL, and it even carried through to the winning goal, set up by the very player (Mikhail Grabovski) who had just interfered with Matt Moulson in the Leafs zone to create the 2-on-1 that won the game.
Rangers 3, Jets 0
The New York Rangers will head into the All-Star break with the lead in the Eastern Conference. They came away with a huge 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets tonight, and Henrik Lundqvist earned his 40th career shutout along with the win. That shutout moves Hank into the number two spot for all-time shutouts for the Rangers.
The Rangers didn't wait long at all in this one, and Ryan Callahan got them on the board just four minutes into the first period. Anton Stralman got a quick, high, slap shot in on Ondrej Pavalec that wound up squeaking through his pads. Callahan located the puck and slammed home the rebound for the 1-0 lead.
Shortly after, Mike Rupp and Chris Thorburn exchanged blows along the boards. Both players got in their shots, but Thorburn walked away holding his shoulder. The Rangers went into the locker room holding a 1-0 lead, one which they would eventually expand.
Lightning 4, Blue Jackets 2
In a season that has been marked by a search for consistency, one thing you've been able to count on fairly regularly is for the Lightning to play up or down to the level of whatever opponent they're facing. Good, solid efforts against league powerhouses have frequently been offset by dismal, sloppy outings against non-contenders. So coming off a three game stretch featuring wins over the defending world champions and two teams jostling for playoff spots in the Western Conference, how would the Bolts fare against the team with the worst record in the league in the last game before the extended All-Star break?
Not great maybe, but certainly not too bad.
Stars 1, Ducks 0
On a night when the Dallas Stars desperately needed to break their five game losing streak they recorded their lowest shots on goal total of the year at 16 and scored just once. They also received Kari Lehtonen's first shutout of the year for a 1-0 win and a badly needed two points that stops the bleeding and sends them into the All-Star break on a positive note.
The win stops a thee game home losing streak for the Stars and ends a nine game point streak (8-0-1) for the Ducks.
Well... road losing streak broken. A goal from the blue line. Offensive zone pressure. Outshooting the opponent. You have to bet Chuck Fletcher will hear from Brendan Shanahan about this. Clearly a suspension is due for those rule violations.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Wild have won two games. In a row. And the second one came on the road. The only explanation is that the Mayans are right, and we're only here for a few more months. The Wild played a pretty decent game, save for maybe the first five minutes or so. It looked ugly for a few minutes to start this one, but they pulled it together and pulled out the big win and back into eighth in West.
The Sharks have rarely been outchanced this season by teams outside of the Western Conference's "Big Four" of Detroit, Vancouver, St. Louis and Chicago but they were edged out on the chance count tonight and the margin had the potential to be wider if it wasn't for a stellar second period in which San Jose allowed just one Flames scoring chance.
After a relative snoozefest through two periods, the game really opened up in the third with the Flames dominating early in the frame before the Sharks generated a glut of good looks at the net before and after the goal by Benn Ferriero. Calgary pressured with a few chances to tie the game late in the third, including two opportunities by Jarome Iginla with Miikka Kiprusoff pulled, but were unsuccessful as Antti Niemi picked up the shutout.
Coyotes 3, Senators 2
Tuesday nights game was an emotional one for a variety of reasons. First, it was Kyle Turris' first time returning to the team who drafted him third-overall in 2007. Turris and the Coyotes organization had a sour end to an up-and-down relationship when the team traded him to Ottawa earlier this season after a lengthy holdout. Turris heard the boos from the Jobing.com Arena crowd every time he touched the puck.
Another reason for the tension was high in the building Tuesday was the desperation for a win. The 'Yotes had dropped eight of their last ten games coming in and were looking to go into the week-long all-star break on a good note.
Canucks 3, Oilers 2 (SO)
Hodgson beat Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk in the fifth round of the shootout with a shot that trickled between his pads.
Vancouver moved within three points of the idle Detroit Red Wings, who lead the Western Conference.