You may have missed it, but Jaroslav Halak was injured back on March 8 against the Penguins within the last five minutes of a 2-1 win. The diagnosis wasn't good, and Halak is out until mid-second round of the playoffs at the latest, a whopping 6-8 weeks of recovery.
Heading into the post-Halak era of the 2015-16 New York Islanders season, fans had no real reason to panic just yet. Halak's backup -- Thomas Greiss -- is one of the best goaltenders this year. His .927 save percentage is second only to Brian Elliott of the Blues and his 2.27 goals against has him in the top 10 among netminders. Yet, since Halak went down, the Islanders have lost five of their last six after picking up 11 wins in the span of a month.
Thanks to the slide, they're now out of the top three in the Metropolitan Division and into the fire that is the wild card. And they have everyone but their goaltender to blame.
Because really, how can they blame Greiss when he's put up numbers like these in his last five starts?
The Islanders have been playing uninspired hockey since Halak went down. They're letting extremely serviceable netminding slip through their fingers thanks to a sudden cold streak on offense, one that could not have come at a worse time.
It's a phenomenon that Montreal is extremely familiar with, that fear that they can't take risks because their No. 1 guy isn't back there making saves. That mentality is putting the Islanders in extreme danger of not making the playoffs, even with a 97.4 percent chance of making the cut according to SportsClubStats.com.
With a matchup against playoff hopeful Philadelphia coming on Monday, it's gut check time for the Islanders before their postseason aspirations spiral out of their grasp.
Penguins 4, Flyers 1
Wild 3, Hurricanes 2 (SO)
Sharks 4, Rangers 1
Blue Jackets 6, Devils 3
Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 1
Senators 5, Canadiens 0
Red Wings 5, Panthers 3
Stars 3, Islanders 0
Blues 3, Canucks 0
Lightning 2 Coyotes 0
Kings 2, Bruins 1
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3 things we learned
1. The Penguins aren't scared of the Flyers any more
With two strong wins over their cross-state rivals this season, it's not hard to think the Penguins finally might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. After eight straight frustrating losses to the Flyers over the last few years, the shoe seems to be on the other foot. Now, the Penguins are the aggressors, beating the Flyers at every turn and causing them to get off their game. These are not the Penguins of years past, the ones that had the Flyers under their skin and had their game plans disrupted. The pendulum is swinging back to center now, and it looks like the Penguins have finally figured out the Flyers.
2. Wild inch closer to a playoff spot
After successfully gaining two points via a shootout against the Hurricanes, Minnesota is back in it. The win stops the bleeding on a two-game slide after the Wild had just one win in five games. Now, just one point behind the Avalanche for that final wild card spot in the West, the Wild are the latest spoiler to throw our hopes behind. Sorry, Philadelphia.
Wild-card update: The Wild beat the Hurricanes, and the Avalanche won last night, leaving the standings...— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 19, 2016
NSH - 85 points
COL - 78
MIN - 77
3. A goalie's secret? They're always angry.
Roberto Luongo is the latest netminder to get heated after a missed call. Except this time, there was no reason for Luongo to be mad on this no-goal call.
Kevin Spacey made an appearance at the Panthers game, bringing about the fitting end to the "Spacey in Space" narrative over the last few months.
That wasn't all! The Panthers celebrated all night, giving away free face cutouts of Spacey himself in one of the best celebrity hockey appearances of all time.
And what do you know? Florida broke an attendance record too!
Tonight's attendance is 20,817, a new regular-season franchise record.— Florida Panthers PR (@FlaPanthersPR) March 20, 2016
Stat of the Night
The Senators scored three shorthanded goals on the Canadiens a night after the Flames put up two on the same shift at home against Colorado. Even more impressive? This isn't Ottawa's first rodeo.