Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday's NHL recap: The Sick Version

Ugh. Y'know? Ugh.

Stars of the night
--Sidney Crosby tallied three assists and Pittsburgh stopped Philadelphia, 4-1.
--Derek Roy netted a hat trick and added an assist in Buffalo's 7-1 rout of Tampa Bay.
--Ilya Kovalchuk had two assists, including an unselfish one with an empty net looming 50 feet away, and New Jersey doubled up Montreal, 4-2.
--Erik Karlsson had three assists in Ottawa's 3-2 win over Florida.
--Nikolai Kulemin had the overtime winner and an assist, Jonas Gustavsson stopped 36 shots and Toronto stunned the Rangers, 3-2.
--From the "Did anyone anywhere watch this game?" files, Josh Bailey scored in overtime and Dwayne Roloson made 34 saves to lead the Islanders past Columbus, 4-3.
--Lee Stempniak continues to infuriate Toronto fans, this time by being good but not in blue and white, by scoring two goals and setting up another as Phoenix smashed Colorado, 6-2.
--Patrick Marleau's four points, including his 42nd goal, helped San Jose down Vancouver, 4-2.
--Brad Richards notched three points, including two goals, all on the Dallas power play that went 4-for-7 in the Stars' 4-1 win over Los Angeles.

Clean sheets
--Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots and Boston blanked fading Calgary, 5-0.
--Johan Hedberg's 34 saves allowed Atlanta to keep pace with the Bruins and put pressure on Philadelphia after a 4-0 win over Carolina.
--The goaltending clinic of the night was brought to you by Nashville's Pekka Rinne (38 saves) and Detroit's Jimmy Howard (33), who posted dual shutouts. The Red Wings won in a shootout, 1-0. The shootout lasted 11 rounds and only three total players scored.

Playoff peek
--Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New Jersey and Phoenix all clinched a playoff spot. Special props to the Coyotes, who became the third team to reach 100 points.
--Columbus became the second team to be eliminated.
--Philadelphia's five-game losing streak has dropped it to eighth in the East, and with shaky goaltending, the Flyers are in danger of missing the playoffs.
--It's essentially a five-horse race for three spots in the East: Montreal (82), Boston (80) and Philadelphia (80) sit 6-7-8 with Atlanta (78, 9th) and the Rangers (76, 10th) lurking. Four teams (Islanders, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina) are on DEFCON 2 alert.
--Vancouver's magic number to clinch a spot is three.
--Nashville, Detroit and Los Angeles are sitting pretty at 5-6-7 in the West.
--Colorado's loss prevented the door from being slammed on, well, everyone else in the West, but the Avalanche are still in solid shape, up six points on Calgary.
--St. Louis, Anaheim and Minnesota can schedule tee times.
--Dallas can make it a foursome.
--Calgary? DEFCON 1. They stink. And the Capitals are ahead for the Flames.

Sunday's key games
Six games on the schedule and I don't think any are "must-see." Some have notes of importance. For instance, a regulation loss against Pittsburgh eliminates Toronto. A Flames loss to Washington has Calgary wondering if there's a higher level than DEFCON 1. Philadelphia (against New Jersey) and Colorado (at San Jose) look to remain in playoff positioning, but the Flyers' situation is more dire.

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