Saturday, March 13, 2010

NHL Recap 3-12-10: Devils beat Pens again; Dallas, Anaheim stumble

Declared
Like a news network declaring a winner in a presidential election, I hereby award the Atlantic Division title to New Jersey. Never mind the Devils are two points behind Pittsburgh. They have two games in hand and have decisively won the first five meetings with the Penguins following a 3-1 victory Friday. Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists. Sidney Crosby scored his 45th goal.

Bad tidings in the West
Two teams. Dallas and Anaheim. Two games. One goal. Literally.

With playoff hopes growing dimmer with each loss, neither Dallas nor Anaheim could muster victories against teams ahead of them in the standings. The Stars salvaged a point by losing 2-1 in a shootout to Los Angeles, but any points they give away are costly.

Fredrik Modin (LA) and Brenden Morrow (Dallas) exchanged goals in regulation, and Jarret Stoll was the only player, in round six, to score in the shootout. Jonathan Bernier made 29 saves for the Kings.

Anaheim, meanwhile, couldn't even match Dallas' production, either in the standings or on the scoreboard. Pekka Rinne made 31 saves and Shea Weber's first period power play goal held up in Nashville's 1-0 victory over the Ducks.

After winning a franchise-record 11 straight at home, Anaheim has lost four straight at Honda Center. The Ducks have dropped five consecutive games overall.

Dallas is six points behind No. 8 Calgary. Anaheim has fallen nine points back, both with 15 games remaining.

Elsewhere
--Matt Walker had a goal and assist, Antero Niittymaki made 28 saves and Tampa Bay knocked off Washington, 3-2. The Lightning are four points back of a playoff spot.
--Vinny Prospal's two goals and assist, plus Marian Gaborik's goal and two helpers, boosted the Rangers past Atlanta, 5-2. After previously being in a playoff position, the Thrashers have lost five straight games, all in regulation, and have scored just six goals in that time. New York is three points back of Boston.
--Josh Harding made 43 saves, allowing just Thomas Vanek's pair, and Minnesota upended Buffalo, 3-2, to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Notable games
Saturday, March 13 (9 games)
-Buffalo (36-21-9) at Detroit (32-23-12), 7 p.m. ET.

-Boston (30-24-12) at Montreal (34-29-6), 7 p.m.

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