Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NHL Recap 3-15-10: Bad start dooms Bruins; Wings win showdown

Devils close ground, Boston can't open
The Bruins are sitting in precarious playoff positioning in the East but had a small comfort in having more games left than other competitors. That comfort doesn't mean anything if they can't take advantage.

New Jersey struck for three goals in the first period and held off Boston for a 3-2 victory, a win that puts the Devils two points behind Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand and keeps Boston at 71 points, one ahead of the Rangers.

Rob Niedermayer got things going when he somehow deflected a David Clarkson shot past a floundering Tim Thomas, then Clarkson buried a breakaway chance off a great pass by Martin Brodeur, who made 34 saves. Just 45 seconds after Clarkson scored, Zach Parise knocked in a rebound for a 3-0 lead, which caused Claude Julien to replace Thomas after the first period.

Despite the goalie change and Blake Wheeler's goal 43 seconds into the second period, the Bruins couldn't muster enough for a comeback. Patrice Bergeron made things interesting by scoring with 1:03 remaining but it was too little, too late. Boston remained in eighth place and still has a game in hand on New York.

Late goal gives Detroit big win
I'm so pissed. I had this great lead for this game. I was going to write, "Five teams in unison muttered a word that rhymes with 'duck' when the Calgary-Detroit game went to overtime." Then Tomas Holmstrom ruined it. Damn Swede. I hate you.

Holmstrom broke a 1-1 tie with just 1:19 left in regulation and Detroit scratched out a 2-1 victory over Calgary, putting the Red Wings three points ahead of the Flames and just one back of Nashville.

Holmstrom played a key role in both Detroit goals. He deflected a long slap shot by Johan Franzen past Miikka Kiprusoff for the eventual winner and set up a great screen to allow Pavel Datsyuk to sling a puck past Kiprusoff on the power play in the second period that tied the score. He was in the same spot in front of the crease on both goals.

Craig Conroy had given Calgary a 1-0 lead just 1:47 into the game but the Flames couldn't get anything else past Jimmy Howard, who had to make just 22 saves. He also stopped Curtis Glencross on a penalty shot 40 seconds before Datsyuk's goal.

Franzen had two assists.

The "other" game of the night
Kristian Huselius had a goal and three assists and teammate Antoine Vermette scored into an empty net and posted two helpers for Columbus, which earned a 5-3 win over Edmonton in the least-heralded game of the night. Steve Mason made 29 saves in the win.

Pat Quinn-ism of the night
"Of late?"

Quinn was asked about Edmonton's road troubles "of late." The Oilers are 1-14-1 on the road since mid-December.

Stat of the night
27 - Consecutive games in which Boston has not scored more than one third-period goal, the longest stretch in the team's 86-year history. (Thanks, Bill Patrick.)

Quote of the night
"You always look at the standings when your team is not winning. When you're winning, you don't have to."
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire

Notable games
Tuesday, March 16 (11 games)
-Montreal (35-29-6) at NY Rangers (31-29-9), 7:30 p.m. ET, Versus. This is the kind of game New York needs to win if it wants to get into the top eight. Montreal looks to create some separation from Boston.

-Philadelphia (36-28-4) at Nashville (38-26-5), 8 p.m. Two teams who seem comfortable in the standings but can't relax.

Bubble teams in action: Just about all of them. Busy night in the schedule. Anaheim, Detroit and Calgary are the only ones not playing.

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