WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Mathieu Perreault #85 of the Washington Capitals trips up Mark Streit #2 of the New York Islanders at the Verizon Center on February 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
There are only six weeks remaining in the 2011-12 NHL regular season and the playoff races are heating up. We round up some of Tuesday night's hockey action for you.
It was a relatively light night of hockey on Tuesday, but there were still plenty of thrilling games and a fair number of close contests. Let's take a look at some of Tuesday's NHL matchups.
Red Wings 5, Blue Jackets 2
The only real blowout of the evening was in Columbus, where five different Red Wings players netted goals. Four of the five Detroit goals came in the third period, as the Blue Jackets dropped yet another game. Amerinadian at Winging It In Motown took some time to break down the win:
No team coasts through a season. Things may be great for a while, where everything goes right and points pile up. There may even be some lackluster play that gets covered up by lucky bounces or just being a little bit better than the opponent.
However, the true measure of a team is found when facing adversity, and that's what the Wings are going through right now. Losers of 3 straight, their genius of a GM was unable to get the depth forward he coveted and fans got angry. Add to that the team was without Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Kyle Quincey due to injury and decided to give Jimmy Howard the night off, and it would have been easy for the team to mail it in as they've done so often against the 30th place Columbus Blue Jackets.
However, a funny thing happened in the third: the Wings reminded us that despite the doom and gloom that may be prevalent among the fanbase, the team still employs some pretty good hockey players. Henrik Zetterberg's absolutely-intentional shot from just above the goal line turned out to be the game winner, and Jan Mursak and Valtteri Filppula added insurance goals as the Wings turned it on in the third after getting out-played for the first two periods against the Blue Jackets.
Capitals 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Evgeni Nakabov had 31 saves in the game for the New York Islanders, but his team still fell to the hometown Washington Capitals in overtime. Matt Moulson scored his 27th goal of the season in this game, while Alex Ovechkin netted his 26th, the game winner. Rob Parker at Japer's Rink celebrates the win:
The Caps have now won 3 straight games and have 4 more home games in a row. This is a real chance for them to pile up points, and they'll need to. Win at home, .500 on the road remains the mantra, and a tough 5 game road stretch looms on the horizon (starting with these Islanders). The Caps are back in playoff position, and there's no reason any of the teams behind them should catch them. They've been presented with opportunities to grab a playoff spot and lock it down for over a month now. It's time they reach out and snatch one.
Hurricanes 4, Predators 3
A huge second period by the Carolina Hurricanes saw them scoring three goals. That period ended up being the key to the Canes pulling off the big upset. Bob Wage at Canes Country comments on the Carolina victory:
Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal kept his scoring streak alive and then some as he led the home team to a hard fought, 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night in front of 13,595 at the RBC.
Staal was named first star and had a goal and two assists for the game. He now has a nine game point streak and has 16 points, (7G 9A), in those nine games.
Lightning 2, Canadiens 1
If not for the Blue Jackets, the Montreal Canadiens would clearly be the worst team in the NHL this season. With their 2-1 loss to the hometown Tampa Bay Lightning, they fall to 30 losses and have now lost five straight. Clark J Brooks from Raw Charge reveals that the Lightning pulled off the win while under the weather.
After weathering a week and a half of transactions that saw a major overhaul of the roster, following the loss of captain Vincent Lecavalier to a broken hand and returning home from a tough road trip, the Lightning found themselves somewhat decimated by the flu bug. Brendan Mikkelson, Nate Thompson and Tim Wallace were scratched before the game began. Teddy Purcell started but was clearly spent by the end of the game. Word is that even coaches Guy Boucher and Martin Raymond were fighting the effects, as well as general manager Steve Yzerman.
"This is the best we could get from these guys tonight. I dont know how many American Leaguers we had in there and then these (new) guys coming in, having no clue how we play, just jumping out there. We're in the business of doing the impossible and that's what we needed to do tonight." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher
Coyotes 2, Canucks 1 (SO)
It really seems as though the Phoenix Coyotes can do no wrong. They've been streaking over the past month and have moved all the way from fourth to first place. They were able to score a third-period goal to force an overtime and knock off the Vancouver Canucks, another formidable first-place team. The Dude at Five For Howling can scarcely believe the Coyotes' recent good fortune.
In what may have been one of the most exciting games this season, the Phoenix Coyotes came from an early one goal deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout, with a final score of 2-1. This win gives the Coyotes a record of 11-0-1 for the month of February, and Mike Smith has won the last 11 games that he is started. Feel free to read that sentence a couple of times because it is almost unbelievable.
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