This Week In The Southeast: 2/17/2013

The Carolina Hurricanes surged past the sagging Tampa Bay Lightning and into the division lead for the first time this season.

This recap covers the period from February 11th to February 16th.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes (8-4-1) finished the week with a perfect 3-0 record to claim the top spot in the division. Eric Staal is their leading scorer with seventeen points (8G/9A). Cam Ward won two of the games while Dan Ellis won the third, lowering his GAA to a sparkling 1.74. Carolina has scored 41 goals and allowed 37.

The Hurricanes started the week off with a 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders in Uniondale. The Islanders led 3-2 after two periods before Jiri Tlusty scored 30 seconds into the third to tie the game. Alexander Semin scored off a Tlusty feed to give Carolina its first lead. It was the 200th goal of Semin’s NHL career. Eric Staal scored the eventual game-winner followed by a Matt Moulson tally for the Islanders. Tlusty scored again, this time into an empty net, to clinch the win. Cam Ward made 24 saves to post the victory for Carolina.

Carolina’s road trip continued with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Jiri Tlutsy notched two goals in the third period for the second-straight game. Ilya Kovalchuk scored a power-play goal in the first period to give the Devils the lead. Jussi Jokinen and Patrick Dwyer scored in the second period to put the Hurricanes on top. Ryan Carter tied the game for the Devils early in the third before Tlusty struck for the winner at the 7:25 mark. Tlusty later added an empty-netter to seal the win. Cam Ward was sharp, turning aside 26 of 28 shots to get the win.

The Hurricanes returned home to post a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Carolina’s Joe Corvo and Toronto’s Nazem Kadri traded second period goals before Jussi Jokinen and Jordan Staal tallied to put the Hurricanes ahead for good. Carolina goaltender Dan Ellis shut the door in the third period to give the Hurricanes their third straight win. Ellis raised his record to 3-1 on the season.

Trending: Up in a big way. The Hurricanes are 7-2-1 in their last ten games, allowing them to leap over the Lightning and claim the top spot in the Southeast. Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner have been consistent all season and Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal are starting to raise their games. Four goals in two games from Jiri Tlusty was a big plus.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning (7-6-1) went 1-1-1 this week. Steven Stamkos (9G/12A) and Martin St. Louis (4G/17A) are the club’s leading scorers with 21 points apiece. Anders Lindback started two of the games and finished the week with a 1-0-1 record. Tampa Bay has scored a league-leading 55 goals and now allowed 45 on the season.

The Lightning began the week by returning home to face the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs prevailed 4-3 in a shootout. Montreal jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Brian Gionta, P.K. Subban and Travis Moen. The Lightning finally solved Carey Price in the third period. Victor Hedman scored the first two goals and Sami Salo knotted the game with 44 seconds remaining. David Desharnais scored the only goal of the shootout to give Montreal the win. Anders Lindback made 31 saves in a losing effort for the Lightning.

Tampa City hosted the Washington Capitals next and fell by a 4-3 count. Once again, the Bolts dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of. Martin St. Louis scored in the first period to even the game after Troy Brouwer had put Washington ahead. The Capitals built a 4-1 third period lead on two Eric Fehr goals and another by Jay Beagle. Teddy Purcell scored to make it 4-2 before Nate Thompson's breakaway goal trimmed the deficit to one. The Lightning couldn’t beat Washington’s Braden Holtby to force overtime. Mathieu Garon took the loss for Tampa Bay.

The Lightning finished the week off with a road win over the Florida Panthers. Benoit Pouliot's second goal of the game early in overtime gave the Bolts a 6-5 win. Steven Stamkos scored two goals and set up Teddy Purcell’s game-tying goal with 11 seconds left in regulation as the Lightning overcame a 5-3 third period deficit. Lindback got the win despite surrendering five goals to the Panthers.

Trending: Up but barely. Tampa Bay improved slightly over last week’s performance but continued it’s habit of falling behind in games and trying to rally late. This week they were able to salvage a point against Montreal and come all the way back against Florida but they are costing themselves points which has allowed Carolina to overtake them in the standings. Cracks are starting to show in the Lightning’s defense and goaltending.

Florida Panthers: The Panthers (4-6-4) went 0-0-3 on the week, dropping three home games in overtime. Tomas Fleischmann leads the team in scoring with ten points (4G/6A) but has a -9 rating. Jose Theodore took two of the losses while Scott Clemmensen looked weak in his one appearance. The Panthers have scored 35 goals and allowed a league high 53.

The Panthers started the week at home with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. The Cats fell behind early as Mike Ribeiro scored at the 4:26 mark of the first period. Tomas Fleischmann tied the game midway through the frame. Shawn Matthias put the Panthers ahead a few minutes later. Defenseman Karl Alzner scored his first goal of the season to even the game early in the second. Jonathan Huberdeau and Matt Hendricks traded goals to make the game a 3-3 affair before Huberdeau struck again to give Florida the lead after two. In the third, rookie Drew Shore got his first NHL goal to give the Panthers a 5-3 advantage. It would not hold up as Eric Fehr and Alex Ovechkin scored late to send the game to overtime. Troy Brouwer beat Scott Clemmensen just 32 seconds into the extra period to give the Capitals a second-straight win over the Panthers.

Florida welcomed the Montreal Canadiens to Sunrise for a Valentine’s Day match-up. Montreal would prevail in a tense goaltenders’ duel by a 1-0 margin in overtime. Rene Borque tipped in a bouncing at the 2:10 mark of the extra period for the game’s only goal. Montreal’s Carey Price stopped 26 shots to get the win. Florida’s Jose Theodore made 31 saves in his best outing of the season.

The Panthers finished the week off with a disappointing 6-5 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the second time this week, the Panthers had a 5-3 lead in the third period but could not capture two points. Shawn Matthias, Jack Skille and Jerred Smithson scored Florida’s goals in the first two periods as the teams started off the third tied at three. Jonathan Huberdeau scored his sixth goal of the season off a nice Drew Shore pass to give Florida a 4-3 lead and Tomas Kopecky slapped in a shot to extended the lead to two. Steven Stamkos scored his second goal of the game on a power play and set up Teddy Purcell’s equalizer with 11 seconds left. Benoit Pouliot scored his second goal of the game 79 seconds into overtime to give Tampa Bay the win.

Trending: Steady. The Panthers continue to remain consistently inconsistent. Some nights the offense shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes starting goaltender Jose Theodore looks good, sometimes he doesn’t. The one thing that has been consistent, unfortunately, is the Panthers’ dreadful play in their own end of the ice. Opposing forwards are constantly wide-open in front of the Florida goal and no one is making them pay any kind of price. Like much of the second half of last season the Panthers are staying alive by collecting points for losing in extra time. Unfortunately, the 1-5 start didn’t allow them to bank any points and with this being a short season, a big turnaround is needed soon if the Panthers are going to stay in the chase.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets went 0-2 this week and fell to fourth place in the division. Tobias Enstrom continues to lead the team in scoring with thirteen points (2G/11A). Ondrej Pavelec took both losses in goal. The Jets have scored 33 goals and allowed 43.

The Jets started off the week by dropping a 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Brayden Schenn scored to give the Flyers the lead before Andrew Ladd answered for Winnipeg. Kimmo Timonen scored a power-play goal late in the first to restore Philadelphia’s advantage. Tye McGinn extended the lead to two in the third period. Ladd would score a late goal for the Jets to complete the scoring. Al Montoya played the first two periods but left due to injury. Ondrej Pavelec finished the game and took the loss.

Winnipeg finished the week off by losing 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on home ice. Craig Adams scored two goals, including the empty-net clincher, to power the Pens to the win. James Neal got the eventual game-winner early in the third period. Andrew Ladd scored the only goal for the Jets. Pavelec had a strong outing, allowing only two goals to the powerful Penguins.

Trending: Down. The Jets continue to struggle to score goals and have lost three-straight games at the MTS Centre which does not bode well for the rest of the season. Tobias Enstrom was injured in the game against the Penguins and his loss could prove costly if he is out for an extended period of time.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals went 2-0 this week but remain in the division cellar. Mike Ribeiro leads the team in scoring with seventeen points (5G/12A). Braden Holtby started both games and raised his record to 4-4 on the season. The Capitals have scored 40 goals and allowed 49 on the season.

The Capitals started the week off in Sunrise and picked up their second-straight win over the Florida Panthers. Washington rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to post a 6-5 overtime win. Troy Brouwer scored the deciding goal to go along with earlier tallies from Mike Ribeiro, Karl Alzner, Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr and Alex Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom set up both the tying and winning goals for Washington. Braden Holtby won his second start in a row for the Capitals.

Washington headed up the state to next face the Tampa Bay Lightning and won by a 4-3 count. The Capitals opened the scoring on a Troy Brouwer goal in the first period. Martin St. Louis tied the game for the Lightning. Eric Fehr scored in the second period and again early in the third to give Washington a two-goal advantage. Jay Beagle scored to make it a three-goal bulge. Tampa Bay made a late run on goals by Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson but failed to get the equalizer by Braden Holtby.

Trending: Up. The good news is the Capitals have won three games in a row. The bad news is they remain in last place of a pretty weak division. Braden Holtby seems to have claimed the starting job in goal despite being statistically inferior to Michal Neuvirth. Are the Capitals getting it together or are they only capable of beating bad teams like Florida or a fading Tampa Bay?