Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday's action highlighted by missed opportunities

Bad night for East's playoff hopefuls
While the playoff picture in the West is looking somewhat clear, it's murkier in the East. Problem is, the teams who are pushing for the second season didn't do much to help their cause.

Ryan Miller made 40 saves and Buffalo held off Boston, 3-2. The Bruins could've jumped to sixth place but instead remained in eighth. David Krejci scored a nifty goal to put Boston ahead, 1-0, but the Sabres struck for three straight goals by Tyler Myers, Paul Gaustad and Tim Kennedy (whom Joe Beninati consistently referred to as Tyler Kennedy, who plays for Pittsburgh. He either has the Penguins on the brain or was merging Tyler Myers with Tim Kennedy.)

Boston coach Claude Julien pulled Tim Thomas after the third goal, and while Tuukka Rask slammed the door on a Buffalo team that didn't have Tim Connolly or Thomas Vanek, the Bruins could get only Dennis Seidenberg's goal late in the third past Miller.

That result gave Atlanta a chance to tie Boston at 80 points, but despite getting the opening goal from Nik Antropov, the Thrashers dropped a 4-1 home decision to Carolina, a costly loss. Jussi Jokinen scored twice, Brandon Sutter had a goal and assist and Erik Cole also scored for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward returned to the lineup and made 26 saves.

Carolina, for what it's worth, is now seven points behind Boston with six games remaining.

Late comeback helps Nashville's cause
While some teams floundered, Nashville thrived, but it took some doing.

Patric Hornqvist scored his 30th goal with 3:07 remaining in regulation to force overtime then Francis Bouillon struck just a minute into the extra frame to give the Predators a 3-2 win over Florida. Nashville moved nine points clear of Calgary and has a magic number of either three or four depending on tiebreakers that my brain is too fried to figure out. They both have four points from the season series, so it comes down to whatever's after that.

David Legwand also scored and Marcel Goc and Steve Sullivan each posted two helpers for the Predators, who got 27 saves from Dan Ellis.

Keith Ballard and Stephen Weiss scored for Florida, eight points back of Boston with seven to go.

In other action
--Martin Havlat broke a 2-2 tie with a power play goal, and also had an assist, in Minnesota's 3-2 win over Los Angeles. Scott Parse scored twice for the Kings, who missed a chance to climb back into sixth in the West.
--Corey Perry had a goal and assist in Anaheim's 3-1 win over Dallas. The Stars, Ducks and Wild sit nine points back of Colorado with six, seven and six games remaining, respectively.

Stat of the night
3-0 - The road team's record in the season series between Carolina and Atlanta.

Quote of the night
"You don't like to see it. We are competitive to a certain degree, but I know he's a little bit frustrated. I didn't think there was a whole lot he could do on at least two of those goals."
Miller, sticking up for Olympic teammate Thomas, who was booed after he was removed. Thomas shut out Calgary in Boston's previous outing.

Notable games
Tuesday, March 30 (9 games)
-Boston (34-29-12) at New Jersey (44-26-5), 7 p.m. ET. The Bruins hope to rebound from Monday's loss while the Devils look to take back the Atlantic lead.

-Atlanta (33-31-12) at Toronto (28-35-13), 7 p.m. The Thrashers hope to rebound from Monday's loss.

-Los Angeles (42-27-6) at Nashville (44-27-6), 8 p.m. The Kings hope to rebound from Monday's loss while the Predators look to move closer to clinching a playoff spot.

-Phoenix (47-23-6) at Vancouver (45-26-4), 10 p.m. The Coyotes hope to rebound from... oh wait. Got caught up. Meant to say, this is a pairing of #3 vs. #4 so here's hoping it's a good one.

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