There is no mercy in the Central Division, only breathlessness and brutality.
The battle royale between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday was the latest example of why the Central Division is both the most exciting and most ruthless division in the NHL. Think about it. The division boasts the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. And those aren't even the top teams.
No, the top teams are the Blues and Blackhawks. And if one of those other teams is lucky enough to crack the top three in the Central they still have to get past the clubs that put on an offensive show at the Scottrade Center on Saturday. It makes you wonder whether the three teams that make the playoffs from the Central will be too bruised and battered to compete come playoff time.
Anyways, on to the full recap.
All the NHL Scores
Senators 4, Bruins 3
Blues 6, Blackhawks 5 (SO)
Predators 3, Kings 2
Ducks 3, Coyotes 2 (OT)
On Saturday we asked you five burning questions about the day's games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
Can Ilya Bryzgalov vanquish his Philly demons?
Bryz had an impressive game, no matter the result. He was generally solid throughout the game as the Oilers were heavily outshot from the very beginning. But when it came down to history, Bryz was at a disadvantage. Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl took advantage of their old teammate's tendencies in the shootout.
Can the Blues beat the Blackhawks without Alex Steen?
Yes, but boy did they need all the help they could get. The Blues had to erase a two-goal deficit twice just to get the game to overtime before eventually outlasting the Blackhawks in the shootout. We said before the game that they needed their depth guys to show up, and they did. Dmitri Jaskin, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Maxim Lapierre all chipped in with crucial goals throughout the game.
How big of a boost will Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader provide Detroit?
A big one. Zetterberg opened the scoring in the first period with his first goal since returning from IR this week, and the Wings were able to dominate physically thanks to Abdelkader's presence. With Jimmy Howard on his way, the Red Wings are starting to click as they get healthy again.
Which Senators team shows up on Saturday?
The impressive one. Ottawa was challenged by a surprisingly game Bruins squad and was up to the task. Craig Anderson was a solid presence in net, and youngster Cody Ceci played well yet again on the blue line. But it was Bobby Ryan's goal and a huge 6-on-4 penalty kill late that earned a win for Ottawa.
Will Phoenix be the first team to down the Ducks at home?
The Coyotes fell short even though they came the closest of any team this season to beating the Ducks at the Honda Center. Phoenix got a lucky break late and Mike Ribeiro managed to tie the game with less than a minute remaining, but Saku Koivu's 251st goal of his career ended it in overtime.
The one play or moment from Saturday that will be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Let's be honest. This year's version of 24/7 hasn't been nearly as memorable as past seasons.
Stat of the Night
Down by a goal with two minutes left, the Boston Bruins pulled their goalie to create a 6-on-4 power play for the remainder of the game. They didn't score. But they passed a lot!
Per Glenn Healy, BOS completed 37 passes on its late pp and took 7 one-timers.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 29, 2013
Post to Post
- Dion Phaneuf is about to be very rich. Well, more than he already is.
- Not entirely sure how Michal Plutnar didn't get ejected for shoving a referee.
- Alexander Steen is out indefinitely with a concussion.
- The much-anticipated sequel to #BUTTGOAL is #FACEGOAL.
- Finally, this is how you advertise at a bar.