This recap covers the period from March 25th to March 31st.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets (18-16-2) finished the week with a 1-2 record. Andrew Ladd leads the team in scoring with 32 points (14G/18A). Ondrej Pavelec started the two games against Carolina, while Al Montoya took his first loss of the season against Pittsburgh. Winnipeg has scored 89 goals and allowed 106 so far this season.
3/28 @Pittsburgh 4 @Winnipeg 0
Trending: Down. The Jets started the week with a huge road win over Carolina but couldn't come up with the offense they needed to take firm control of the division. They were blanked in Pittsburgh (no real shame in losing to the Penguins) and lost 3-1 to the Hurricanes at home, which could be a huge momentum builder for Carolina, who has played three fewer games than the Jets. This is the second week in a row Winnipeg has blown a chance to possibly bury Carolina and Washington. The Jets can't seem find the home mojo they had in spades last season.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes (16-15-2) went 1-2 this week. Eric Staal is their leading scorer with 38 points (16G/22A). Justin Peters started all three games for the Canes this week. Carolina has scored 92 goals and given up 97.
Trending: Down. The Hurricanes struggles continued as the club fell to 3-6-1 in their last ten games. After bad losses to the Jets and Maple Leafs to start the week, Carolina came up with a huge victory at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg to snap a seven-game winless streak and stay within four points of the division lead. The next two weeks will be pivotal for the Hurricanes. They need to take full advantage of the games-in-hand they hold over Winnipeg as they try to turn things around and recapture the top spot in the division.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals (16-17-2) went 1-1-1 this week. Mike Ribeiro leads the team in scoring with 35 points (11G/24A). Braden Holtby started all three games for the Caps. Washington has scored 102 goals and allowed 101.
3/26 New York Islanders 3 @Washington 2
3/30 Washington 4 @Buffalo 3 (SO)
3/31 @Philadelphia 5 Washington 4 (OT)
Trending: Down slightly. The Capitals cooled off a bit this week. The loss to the Islanders at home hurt, but Washington bounced back to pick up three points in the next two games, both on the road, over the weekend. Matt Hendricks and Alex Ovechkin scored in the shootout to complete a comeback win against Buffalo. Unfortunately, the Caps couldn't hold a 4-2 third period lead against the Flyers and ended up falling in overtime. Despite the .500 week, the Capitals did manage to gain ground on Winnipeg and Carolina, keeping them in the playoff hunt.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning (15-18-1) went 2-0 this week. Steven Stamkos leads the team with 46 points (25G/21A). Veteran Mathieu Garon started both games for the Bolts. Tampa Bay has scored 110 goals while allowing 98.
3/29 @Tampa Bay 5 New Jersey 4 (SO)
Trending: Up. New head coach Jon Cooper guided the Lightning to two solid wins at home this week. Steven Stamkos was huge, posting three goals and two assists in the pair of victories. The Lightning remains on the periphery of the playoff chase but it's not too late yet. Winning the division seems unlikely, but the Bolts are only four points out of the eighth spot with fourteen games to go. One long winning streak could make a huge difference.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers (11-19-6) went 2-1 this week. Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau leads the club in scoring with 25 points (13G/12A). Jacob Markstrom started all three games this week and continued his solid work. Florida has scored 88 goals and given up a league-worst 125.
3/28 @Florida 5 Buffalo 4 (SO)
3/30 @Florida 3 New Jersey Devils 2 (OT)
Trending: Up. The Panthers started the week off in Toronto, dropping their third-straight to finish off a five-game road trip. The team returned home and got some more solid goaltending from Jacob Markstrom and back-to back two-goal games from Shawn Matthias to edge the Sabres and Devils in extra time. I am starting to wonder how this season would have turned out if the Cats had handed the reins to Markstrom earlier. It wouldn't have changed the fact that there are serious issues with this club, but the team looks much more capable of winning games behind Markstrom, despite their other deficiencies. Jonathan Huberdeau posted five points this week to take over the NHL rookie scoring lead.