Thursday, April 8, 2010

NHL Recap: Rags make things interesting; Goals aplenty out West

Three-goal first period boosts New York past Toronto
Fans of the NHL playoffs will get a small taste of it this weekend before the actual playoffs start.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in the first 11 minutes en route to a 5-1 victory over Toronto, led by Erik Christensen's two goals, setting up a big-time end to the season. The Rangers host Philadelphia Friday before Sunday's rematch in the Former City of Brotherly Love (seriously, what do they have to do to lose that title?) with two points separating the teams in the standings.

In between the two sits Boston, whose cushion over New York is just one but with a game in hand.

Vinny Prospal, Olli Jokinen and Aaron Voros also scored and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for New York. Dion Phaneuf netted his first goal as a Maple Leaf.

Out West
--Tomas Holmstrom scored two power play goals in a 40-second span in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit and Detroit edged Columbus, 4-3, climbing into fifth place in the West.
--Kris Versteeg registered a career-high four points, including his third shorthanded goal, and Chicago held off a furious St. Louis comeback attempt, 6-5. The Blackhawks, who moved into first place, led 6-1 at one point.
--Does anyone protect leads? Edmonton stormed back from a 3-0 deficit in the first nine minutes to knock off Colorado, 5-4 in overtime, on the Magic Man, Ryan Whitney's goal. Dustin Penner had a goal and two assists for the Oilers. In their partial defense, the Avalanche rested some of their regulars, but that means they seem content with just the eighth seed.
--Phoenix scored three unanswered goals in the third period after Nashville tied it at 2-2 early in the frame in the Coyotes' 5-2 victory to clinch the fourth seed.

Stat of the night
23 - Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves, Shane Doan snapped a 23-game goalless drought and Wojtek Wolski scored his 23rd goal for Phoenix, which has a goal differential of +23. Lauri Korpikoski scored his first goal since Jan. 23. Seriously, it's eerie how much importance 23 had just in this one game.

Quote of the night
"It was almost like figure skating at the Olympics. We were the spectators in the stands and they were skating all over the ice."
Blues forward David Backes, referring to Chicago scoring four times on six shots in a 3:08 span in the first after St. Louis grabbed a 1-0 lead.

Marquee matchups
Thursday, April 8 (9 games)
-Buffalo (44-25-10) at Boston (36-30-13), 7 p.m. ET. The Bruins need a win against a good team.

-Vancouver (48-27-5) at San Jose (49-20-11) 10:30 p.m. #2 vs. #3 in the West. The Sharks can move back into first.

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