For a while it looked like Zach Parise's third-period goal in his return to New Jersey was going to spark a come-from-behind win for the Minnesota Wild, but Andy Greene's overtime goal saved the Devils from what would have been a devastating loss for their playoff chances after they surrendered three goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Parise, playing in his first game in New Jersey since leaving as a free agent following the 2011-12 season, was booed most of the night, including when he was announced in the starting lineup. His goal, which was his 24th of the season, came off of a deflection in front of the net off of a Ryan Suter slap shot. The Devils are now five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Detroit Red Wings earned what was the biggest win of the night by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime, 5-4, in a game that saw a couple of lead changes, three own goals by the Penguins, David Legwand getting ejected for hitting somebody with the butt end of his stick, and a buzzer beating goal to end it.
The Red Wings, through all of their injuries, are just one point out of a playoff spot.
All the NHL Scores
Devils 4, Wild 3
Lighting 5, Senators 4
Red Wings 5, Penguins 4
Kings 2, Capitals 1
Three things we learned
1. The Penguins signed Rob Scuderi to a four-year contract four years too late
Four years ago Rob Scuderi was a valuable member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and a steady defenseman on a Stanley Cup winning team. He left in free agency, continued his solid career with the Kings (winning another Stanley Cup), and this past summer, at the age of 35, came back to Pittsburgh on a four-year deal. It has not worked out. At all. Their 5-4 overtime loss on Thursday was perhaps the perfect storm of everything that's gone wrong for Scuderi this season, as he was on the unlucky end of two of the three own-goals Pittsburgh surrendered and then collided with rookie defenseman Olli Maatta to help set up another Detroit goal. It's hard to blame him too much for the goals that bounced off of him, including the overtime winner. Sometimes hockey happens and bad bounces burn you. Can't really do anything about that. But that's not the issue. The issue is that giving a four-year contract to that type of defenseman, at that point in his career, was simply a poor use of resources. And it's catching up to them. He's just not the same player that he was and every time he is on the ice the Penguins can not get out of their own zone. Bad bounces happen, but consistently getting dominated in the possession game creates the opportunity for even more bad bounces to go against you.
2. Ryan Johansen is turning into a star for Columbus
One of the biggest reasons the Blue Jackets are an improved team this season has to be the development of former first-round draft pick Ryan Johansen. His breakout year continued on Thursday as he scored the game-winner late in the third period against Montreal giving him a team-high 27 goals and 52 points in 69 games. Important to keep in mind that he's still only 21 years old. He's becoming the franchise cornerstone they need.
3. Marian Gaborik has been a great addition for the Kings
If there was any concern as to whether Marian Gaborik could fit in with the Kings, he's done a nice job dismissing that in his first couple of weeks. He added another assist on Thursday and then scored the game-winning goal in the shootout. He is also forming quite the top-line duo with Anze Kopitar.
Bonus: Cory Conacher's head is not as big as John Scott's.
The one play or moment from Thursday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Even though they didn't play on Thursday, it was a pretty rough night for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Riding a three-game losing streak and falling back to the pack in the Eastern Conference wild card race, five of the teams Toronto is competing with for a playoff spot that were in action on Thursday ended up picking up points. Tampa Bay won. Philadelphia won. Detroit won. Washington took the Kings to overtime, and if you want to include the Devils as still being in the race, they won as well. The Maple Leafs are now just four points ahead of the first non-playoff spot in the East and if they don't get their act together defensively (and soon) their playoff spot isn't looking as secure as it was a couple of weeks ago.
Stat of the Night
Since being acquired by the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline Ales Hemsky already has two goals and six assists in seven games, including the beautiful goal he scored on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's amazing that all the Oilers could get for him at the deadline was a couple of mid-round draft picks, but that's what happens when you take a skill guy and bury him in a defensive role on the third line and wonder why his offense has taken a hit. The Senators are a lost cause at this point as far as making the playoffs go, but that doesn't mean they didn't pull off one of the best deals at the trade deadline.
Post to Post
- Relax. Martin St. Louis will be OK for the Rangers.
- This is great. The first Tweet from every NHL team in the order that they joined Twitter.
Testing twitter on the Blackberry Curve.— Phoenix Coyotes (@phoenixcoyotes) February 4, 2009