Sunday, March 14, 2010

NHL Recap 3-13-10: West's best fall; Advantage: Wings

Presidential races hit a wall
If Chicago and/or San Jose wants to pass Washington in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, they'll have to do better than they did Saturday.

Cristobal Huet and the Blackhawks blew a 2-1 lead very late, conceding a tying goal with just over two minutes to play and then the winning (or losing, depending on perspective) goal with 2.1 seconds to go, and Philadelphia stunned the Hawks, 3-2.

Simon Gagne opened the game's scoring in the third period for the Flyers before Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa staked Chicago to a 2-1 lead. Then Scott Hartnell tied the score with 2:04 remaining in regulation.

With 2.1 ticks on the clock, Chris Pronger threw a shot past a diving Huet for the winning goal, and Chicago went away with no points after two seemed fairly secure.

San Jose had a sorta-not-quite-similar collapse. The Sharks scored the game's first two goals in the third period, by Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau, before falling in overtime to Florida, 3-2. The Sharks had just become the first NHL team in history to win three straight games in regulation when trailing after two periods.

Much to fantasy owners' dismay, no stars on the Panthers figured in on the goals. Rather than guys like Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Cory Stillman or Bryan McCabe, Florida got goals from Keith Ballard, Shawn Matthias and Bryan Allen (the OT winner) to stun the Sharks.

Tomas Vokoun helped out though with 37 saves.

Your move, Calgary
The back-and-forth play between Detroit and Calgary for the eighth playoff spot in the West is fun. It's the Flames turn to counter.

Brian Rafalski's power play goal off a carry-over power play in overtime lifted Detroit to a 3-2 victory over Buffalo, and the Red Wings are a point ahead of Calgary for eighth. And Nashville better look out, as the Predators are just a point ahead of Detroit.

The Red Wings looked to have this one well in hand when Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Eaves scored in the first three minutes against Ryan Miller, but Miller (34 saves, No. 1 star) shut the door from there. At least until overtime.

Jochen Hecht scored twice for the Sabres. Calder Trophy front-runner Tyler Myers took an unfortunate delay of game penalty late in regulation that led to the Rafalski winner.

In other action
--Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves and Phoenix blanked Carolina, 4-0, Bryzgalov's league-leading eighth shutout. Lee Stempniak and Martin Hanzal each scored two goals.
--Sergei Kostitsyn netted a pair and Montreal edged Boston, 3-2.
--Dwayne Roloson's 38 saves boosted the Islanders past New Jersey, 4-2.
--Phil Kessel scored twice and added an assist and Tyler Bozak had a goal and two helpers in Toronto's 6-4 win over the Oilers. Edmonton is officially eliminated from playoff contention.
--Andy McDonald's three points, including one goal, led St. Louis to a 5-1 rout of Columbus.
--Mikael Samuelsson scored two goals with one assist and Vancouver took down Ottawa, 5-1.

Stat of the night
5 - Goals by Stempniak in four games with Phoenix. He had just 14 goals in 62 games with Toronto.

Quote of the night
"It's something you have nightmares about."

Marquee matchup
Sunday, March 14 (10 games)
Washington (45-14-9) at Chicago 44-18-5), 12:30 p.m., NBC. That Presidents' Trophy race could've gotten even more interesting if the Blackhawks hadn't choked. Should still be a fun game.

Playoff bubble teams in action: Dallas, NY Rangers, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, St. Louis, Minnesota, Calgary.

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