It was a big night for Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on Thursday as he not only stopped all 37 shots he faced to lead his team to a 2-0 win in Philadelphia, but he also did it against the team that traded him a years ago.
Both goalies in that game were facing their former teams (the Flyers acquired starting goalie Steve Mason from Columbus at last year's trade deadline) and it was Bobrovsky who came out with the upper hand as he stood tall in the crease and pretty much stole two huge points for his team. Mason wasn't terrible for the Flyers, but did give up an ugly goal on the power play from a bad angle that he probably should have had. That mistake was all the offense Columbus would need on the night, as it managed to stay ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference wild card race.
Toronto, meanwhile, won a wild game against the Boston Bruins that saw the Maple Leafs lose Jonathan Bernier to an injury, blow a two-goal third period lead, and somehow still come out of it with a win.
The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched the Metropolitan Division title thanks to Philadelphia's loss to Columbus (as well as their 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets) while Dan Bylsma became the fastest coach to win 250 games in NHL history.
The Dallas Stars were crushed by the Carolina Hurricanes, and you had to know it was going to be a rough night for them when Kari Lehtonen gave up a goal on one of the weirdest bounces you will see in the NHL this season.
All the NHL Scores
Sharks 2, Kings 1
Three Things We Learned
1. Paul Martin is pretty important for the Penguins
The Penguins received a huge lift to their blue line on Thursday when Paul Martin made his return to the lineup after breaking his hand during the Olympics, and he made a huge impact. Martin played a team-high 24 minutes and scored the game-winning goal in what might have been the Penguins' most complete defensive effort of the season, allowing just 15 shots on goal from the Winnipeg Jets. Not a coincidence that it happened with Martin in the lineup.
2. Patrick Roy is still very aggressive
No coach in the league has embraced the "pull your goalie as early as possible strategy" quite like Colorado's Patrick Roy. All year he's been pulling his goalie far earlier than most coaches do in an effort to tie the game late, and he was rewarded again on Thursday. With the Avalanche down to the Rangers, 2-1, Roy pulled Semyon Varlamov with 2:08 to play in regulation. Most coaches wait until the one-minute mark to get their goalie off. Roy is not like most coaches and wanted to get the extra attacker as early as he could. Sometimes it has worked, sometimes it hasn't. On Thursday, it worked again. The Avalanche tied the game with a minute to play and then went on to win in a shootout, 3-2.
3. Niklas Hjalmarsson has a short temper that we did not know about
Imagine how angry Hjalmarsson would have been on Thursday if he wasn't playing on the defending Stanley Cup champions and also headed back to the playoffs. Or if his team had not come from behind and won.
The one play or moment from Thursday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Injuries. Potentially significant injuries, too. One of the biggest factors in going on a deep playoff run and winning the Stanley Cup is simply being lucky enough for your top players to stay healthy and a couple of teams had some issues with that on Thursday. The Toronto Maple Leafs had to play Boston without the services of Joffrey Lupul due to a lower body injury, and then they lost starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier during the game. For the Kings, star defenseman Drew Doughty had to exit their game in San Jose due to an upper body injury. The Wild also had a bit of a scare when leading goal-scorer Zach Parise was crushed by Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig.
Bonus moment: That unbelievable holding call on Torey Krug in overtime that resulted in Toronto's game-winning power-play goal. How does that get called in any situation, let alone overtime with playoff spots on the line?
Stat of the Night
Moving Brent Burns to forward has been a wonderful move for him and the San Jose Sharks the past two seasons. In the Sharks' 2-1 win he scored another goal on Thursday night, blasting a slap shot past Martin Jones of the Kings on a power play, to give him his 23rd goal of the season and his 32nd since he switched positions last season.
Post to Post
- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray was suspended three games for his hit on Michael Kostka of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- It has been a season of squandered opportunities for the New Jersey Devils.
- Playoff seeding is still at stake, even for the teams that have already secured their spots in the postseason.
- The Washington Capitals' optimal Corsi lineup.