Carolina and Winnipeg close in on the division lead as Tampa Bay's offense dries up on the road.
This recap covers the period from February 3rd to February 10th.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning (6-5-0) lost all three of their games this week. Steven Stamkos continues to lead the team's offense with seventeen points (7G/10A). Anders Lindback started the first two games and continued his solid play. Tampa Bay has scored 42 goals and given up 27.
The Lightning finally embarked on a road trip and fell to the Philadelphia Flyers by a 2-1 count. Philadelphia’s Tom Sestito broke a scoreless tie in the second period. The Bolts tied it up on a Benoit Pouliot marker midway through the final period. Sestito quickly struck back with his second of the night to give the Flyers a much-needed win. Ilya Bryzgalov ended up get the better of Anders Lindback in the tight contest.
Tampa Bay’s road trip continued and the team dropped its third in a row, this time falling 4-2 to the New Jersey Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk notched a shorthanded goal and added an assist to power the Devils to the win. Nate Thompson and defenseman Matt Carle got the only Lightning goals while Adam Henrique, Andy Greene and Patrik Elias were the other Devil scorers. Greene’s third period tally proved to be the game-winner. Lindback started again for the Bolts and made 23 stops in a losing effort.
The Lightning finished off the week at Madison Square Garden and were pounded 5-1 by the New York Rangers. Carl Hagelin scored twice and added an assist for the Rangers. Ryan Callahan, Arron Asham and Rick Nash scored the other goals for New York. Vincent Lecavalier scored the only goal for the Lightning. Mathieu Garon started the game but was chased in the second period after the Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Trending: Down. The Lightning came crashing back to earth this week as winning on the road proved difficult for the club. The Lightning were in both of the first two games but the offense came up short against Philadelphia and New Jersey. The embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Rangers was the team's fourth in a row, a streak that now has them clinging to a one point lead atop the division.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes (5-4-1) finished the week with a 2-0-1 record to move back above the .500 mark. Eric Staal is their leading scorer with twelve points (7G/5A). Cam Ward started all three games and lowered his GAA down to 3.28. Carolina has scored 28 goals and allowed 30 so far this season.
Carolina started the week off with a 4-1 road win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matt Frattin put Toronto ahead in the first period. Jordan Staal got his first goal as a member of the Hurricanes in the second period to even the game. Eric Staal got the game-winner later in the frame. Justin Faulk and Patrick Dwyer tallied in the third period to put the game out of reach. Cam Ward was strong in goal, turning aside 41 shots.
The Hurricanes traveled to Ottawa next and came away with a 3-2 overtime over the Senators. Dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson beat Cam Ward in the first period to the Senators on top. Carolina’s Chad LaRose scored to tie the game in the second period before veteran Daniel Alfredsson converted to give Ottawa the lead back. In the third period, Alexander Semin notched his second of the season to send the game to overtime. Jay Harrison scored at the 2:19 mark of the extra period to give the Hurricanes their second straight win. Ward was a brick wall again, blunting 45 Ottawa shots to pick up the win.
The Hurricanes met the Philadelphia Flyers in their final game of the week and fell 4-3 in overtime. Jiri Tlusty scored his first goal of the season just seventeen seconds into the game to give Carolina the lead. Brayden Schenn scored later in the frame to to tie the game. Matt Read beat Cam Ward to give the Flyers their first lead before Jeff Skinner replied for the Hurricanes. Jakub Voracek restored the Flyers one-goal advantage before the end of the second period. Joe Corvo scored his first of the campaign in the third period to earn Carolina a point. Danny Briere got the overtime winner for the Flyers at the 1:47 mark. Ward made 29 saves in the losing effort.
Trending: Up. The Hurricanes had a very good week. Carolina got a little more secondary scoring and it helped them pick up five points in the standings. They moved up to second place by virtue of the game-in-hand they hold on the Jets. The Hurricanes currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Cam Ward returned to form and was stellar in the two wins before falling in overtime to Buffalo.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets (5-5-1) compiled a 2-1 record this week. They are tied with Carolina with eleven points but have played one more game so they slipped down to third in the division. Defenseman Tobias Enstrom leads the team in scoring with thirteen points (2G/11A). Ondrej Pavelec went 1-1 during the week while Al Montoya picked up a big shutout on the road in Ottawa.
The Jets started the week off looking for revenge against the visiting Florida Panthers. The Jets came away with two points after a tense 3-2 overtime win. Florida took the lead on a Jonathan Huberdeau rebound goal in the first period. Blake Wheeler tied things up for the home side early in the second frame. Tomas Fleischmann restored Florida’s lead before Winnipeg evened the game again on a rare goal from defenseman Mark Stuart. A Filip Kuba penalty in overtime gave the Jets an opening and Bryan Little delivered the game-winner with sixteen seconds left on the clock. Ondrej Pavelec made 17 saves to pick up the win for the Jets.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the next visitors to the MTS Centre and the Leafs eked out a 3-2 win in front of another raucous crowd of 15,004. Winnipeg took the lead in the second period on a shorthanded goal from defenseman Zach Redmond. It was the rookie’s first NHL tally. Tyler Bozak quickly returned the favor, scoring shorthanded less than three minutes later to even the game. Andrew Ladd’s fourth of the season gave the Jets the lead back early in the third period. Toronto got the equalizer when Matt Frattin scored his sixth of the season at the 14:58. Phil Kessel completed the run by scoring
twelve parsecs; I mean fifty-four seconds later on a power play to send the Jets back under the .500 mark. Pavelec only faced 15 shots during the game but could not deliver a win.
The Jets finished off the week in Canada's capital with a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Ottawa Senators. Al Montoya won an exciting backup goaltenders' duel with Ben Bishop as the Jets prevailed by a 1-0 count. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored the game's only goal in the second period. Montoya made 33 saves to post his first shutout with the Jets. The win was the Jets' second on the road this season.
Trending: Up. The Jets were very solid this week. They played pretty well in all three games and pulled out two tight wins to prevent a potential plunge in the standings. Coach Claude Noel demanded better defense and more discipline and he got both. Ondrej Pavelec's Jekyll and Hyde act continued. He looked in control against the Panthers but couldn't hold a third period lead against Toronto. Al Montoya's shutout win could lead to more playing time for the former Islander.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers (4-6-1) went 1-1-1, all on the road, this week but finished off on a sour note with a 5-0 loss in Washington. Tomas Fleischmann leads the team in scoring with nine points (3G/6A). Jose Theodore started all three games but continues to be inconsistent. Florida has scored 25 goals and allowed a whopping 40 against. Former first rounder Keaton Ellerby was shipped to Los Angeles for fifth-round pick in 2013.
The Panthers started the week in Winnipeg with their second of a four-game road trip. The Jets would end up taking a tight 3-2 decision in overtime. Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau knocked in a rebound created by a magnificent Drew Shore rush to put the Cats ahead in the first period. Blake Wheeler replied early in the second frame for the Jets. Tomas Fleischmann gave the Panthers less than two minutes later with his third goal of the campaign. Mark Stuart would equalize for the Jets later in the period. After a scoreless third period, the game would head to extra time. Defenseman Filip Kuba would get called for tripping to put the Jets on the power play. The Panthers came real close to sending the game to a shootout with an aggressive penalty kill but Bryan Little got free to fire the game-winning goal past Scott Clemmensen with sixteen seconds left.
Florida headed to Philadelphia looking to exact some revenge on the Flyers for an earlier 7-1 drubbing in Sunrise. The Cats came away with a 3-2 shootout win. Mike Weaver and Dmitry Kulikov combined to send Jack Skille in on Ilya Bryzgalov. Skille ripped the puck past the Flyer netminder for his first of the campaign. Jakub Voracek would score a pretty power play goal to tie the game less than a minute later. Matt Read put the Flyers ahead in the second period by knocking a loose puck by a lazy Jose Theodore. It was his fourth goal of the season against the Cats. Stephen Weiss would finally get his first goal of the season on a third period power play to knot the score at two. Tomas Fleischmann and Kulikov would get the assists and Peter Mueller set a nice screen to help Weiss beat Bryzgalov. The game eventually went to the shootout where Jonathan Huberdeau scored a dazzling goal in round one, followed by a Mueller wrist shot conversion in round two. Theodore denied Matt Read and Claude Giroux to give the Panthers the win. It was the fourth straight game in which the Panthers gained at least a point in the standings.
The Panthers finished the week by having their four-game point streak ended by the Washington Capitals. Powered by Troy Brouwer's two goals, the Capitals cruised to an easy 5-0 shutout win at the Verizon Center. Jose Theodore had a poor outing, surrendering 5 goals on 21 shots before Scott Clemmensen came in to finish the game.
Trending: Steady. The Panthers had their upswing in the standings stopped with the ugly loss in D.C. The team may have pulled itself back within striking range of a playoff spot after a horrible start but still needs to improve. The offense continues to struggle, the defense is sloppy and Jose Theodore's goaltending hasn't been at the level it was last year. This week's four-game homestand could go a long way to determining the Cats' fate this season.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals (3-8-1) went 1-2 to post their third straight losing week of the season. Mike Ribeiro continues to lead the team in scoring with fourteen points (4G/10A). Michal Neuvirth took both losses while Braden Holtby snapped the team's three-game losing streak with a shutout win over Florida.
The Capitals started the week off with a home tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs edged Washington by a 3-2 count. Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk scored twice in the first period before Marcus Johansson answered for the Capitals. Korbinian Holzer restored Toronto’s two-goal advantage in the second period with his first NHL goal. Mike Ribeiro scored in the third period to cut Toronto’s lead to one but the Capitals would fail to get the equalizer past Ben Scrivens the rest of the way. Michal Neuvirth started and took the loss for the Capitals.
Washington would next face the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins again had no trouble with the Capitals, skating to a 5-2 victory. Evengi Malkin and Sidney Crosby each had a goal and two assists as the Penguins blitzed Washington with a five-goal second period, easily offsetting Mike Ribeiro’s first period marker. Alex Ovechkin scored a third period goal power play goal to complete the scoring. Michal Neuvirth started but was pulled after surrendering two goals on nine shots. Braden Holtby gave up three goals in relief.
The Capitals finished the week with a 5-0 whitewashing of the Florida Panthers on home ice. Troy Brouwer scored two goals to lead the Capitals offense. Joel Ward, Alex Ovechkin and Mathieu Perreault were the other Washington goal scorers. Brendan Holtby made 27 saves to post the easy shutout for the Capitals.
Trending: Down slightly. Despite the win over Florida, the Capitals continue to struggle and remain the NHL's worst team. Another three-goal loss to the Penguins showed just how far the Capitals have fallen over the last couple of seasons. Fans are hoping that Holtby's shutout is a sign of things to come. If not, it's going to be a long season in the nation's capital.