Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mixed bag of results from Wednesday

Buffalo inching closer
Think I'll send a copy of the game tape from Buffalo-Florida to the Penguins offices. They need lessons in learning how to play against bad teams.

Six different goal scorers propelled Buffalo to a 6-2 victory over all-but-eliminated Florida, moving the Sabres closer to clinching the Northeast Division and also into second place in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo's magic number to clinch the division is four.

Jason Pominville, Tyler Tim Kennedy, Nathan Gerbe, Adam Mair, Tyler Ennis and Henrik Tallinder scored for Buffalo. Raffi Torres posted three assists and 12 different Sabres registered at least a point. Ryan Miller had little to do, stopping 13 shots.

Jeff Taffe and Michael Frolik had goals for the Panthers, who are two points from elimination.

Dud dud dudskies
To learn how to be a good team yet suck when playing a weaker opponent, examine the following games:

--Mike Smith stopped all 27 shots he saw, not many of which truly tested him, and Tampa Bay knocked off Pittsburgh on the road, 2-0. The result prevented the following: a) the Lightning from being eliminated from the postseason picture; b) Pittsburgh keeping its hold on second place in the East; and c) the Penguins from expanding their lead in the division. Steven Stamkos scored his 46th goal and had an assist and Martin St. Louis posted two helpers.

--Evgeni Nabokov's first encore performance after a really good week last week was to give up five goals in two periods as Dallas routed San Jose, 5-1, behind Steve Ott's first career hat trick. Ott scored shorthanded, even strength and on the power play.

Bouncing back
A sympathetic pat on the back to Minnesota for having scrubs stop Chicago's skid.

Two goals by Tomas Kopecky and another by Ben Eager forged a 3-0 Blackhawks lead and Jonathan Toews put the icing on a 4-0 Chicago victory over Minnesota. The Blackhawks had lost three straight games in regulation for the first time all season. Antti Niemi made 21 saves for his seventh shutout of the season. Eager managed to have three points, his first game with a point since Jan. 21 (19 straight scoreless) and increasing his season total by 30 percent (10 to 13.)

This collar is a little tight
--Cam Ward made 34 saves and Eric Staal's goal early in the third period snapped a 1-1 tie in Carolina's 2-1 victory over Montreal, a loss that has the Canadiens just two points ahead of No. 9 Atlanta in the playoff race.
--Another team feeling some heat is Colorado after an ucky 5-2 home loss to Anaheim. The Avalanche are in eighth place and just two points ahead of Calgary, but with a game in hand. Jason Blake had a goal and four assists and Saku Koivu scored once with three helpers.

The Ducks apparently needed just five players to score, with four players being a plus-5 (Steve Eminger, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer, who all scored, and Koivu) and Blake who was a plus-4. Blake somehow ended up on the ice for Colorado's one even-strength goal (the other was on the power play.)

Stat of the night
21 - Minnesota has 21 shots or less in nine of its last 13 games.

Quote of the night
"When you're standing behind the bench for that, you want to be anywhere else."
Florida coach Peter DeBoer, referring to Buffalo's 20-2 shot advantage in the second period

Marquee matchup
Thursday, April 1 (8 games)
Vancouver (46-26-4) at Los Angeles (43-27-6), 10:30 p.m. ET. The Kings try to create some breathing room, currently five points ahead of No. 9 Calgary.

Key playoff race games: Florida at Boston; Atlanta at Washington, Philadelphia at NY Islanders; Columbus at Detroit; St. Louis at Nashville.

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