Tuesday night in the National Hockey League (NHL) saw one long-time winning streak end, another streak continue, an emotional victory for a shell-shocked team and two West Coast games that fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Weber Downs Struggling Sabres – Nashville Predators 4, Buffalo Sabres 1
Elite defenseman Shea Weber is known around the NHL for his slapshot. And for good reason. The shot has been clocked at over 106 miles per hour and has, on multiple occasions, caused a great deal of bodily harm to anyone blocking its path. But on Tuesday night, it was his wrist shot that wound him earning him the game-winning goal. Jumping into the play to create an odd-man rush, Weber took a drop pass from Colin Wilson and quickly fired a velocity shot over the shoulder of Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enroth. Weber finished the game with a goal and an assist in the win.
Predators coach, Barry Trotz, said after the game that “everyone thinks about [Weber’s] slap shot” but calls his wrist shot his most effective. “He can place it better,” the coach explained.
Veterans Earn Big Win for the Devils – New Jersey Devils 2, Philadelphia Flyers 1
Two future Hall of Fame players led the Devils in a close win that could have a serious effect on the Eastern Conference standings. Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur are both on the north side of 40, but it was their play that won the night. Jagr had the game-winning goal midway through the third period and Brodeur made 30 saves, including an outstanding save with only 40 seconds left in the game. The save came with some controversy, as the Flyers believe the puck was pushed into the net by forward Scott Hartnell.
Flyers coach Craig Berube disagreed with the no-goal call, but said the game should have never come down to that one call. “Six powerplays, you’ve got to make it happen,” said Berube.
10-Game Winning Streak Ends in Carolina – New York Rangers 1, Carolina Hurricanes 3
It was a rough night for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. He was on the ice for all three goals scored by Carolina, and for all three goals, he was outmuscled and outplayed by his brothers. Carolina forward Jordan Staal had a goal and an assist and Carolina captain Eric Staal set up an insurance goal late in the third to give the Hurricanes their first win over the New York Rangers in their past 11 matchups.
For Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, it was a game of redemption. His season has been one of injury and mental struggles. In many games, it appeared his confidence was completely shot, letting in very uncharacteristic goals for the once-elite goaltender. But on Tuesday night, Ward earned the victory, crediting his ability to “shut off [his mind] and have fun.”
Despite Dominance, Red Wings Lose in Columbus – Detroit Red Wing 1, Columbus Blue Jackets 4
The Detroit Red Wings took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period off a goal by defenseman Danny DeKeyser. That would be their only goal of the night, despite multiple high scoring chances and 40 shots on Columbus goaltender Sergei “Bob” Bobrovsky. The Red Wings outshot the Blue Jackets 16-3 before the Blue Jackets scored their first goal late in the first period, ending the period at an improbable 1-1 tie. Bobrovsky held the fort down until midway through the third period, when the Blue Jackets received goals by Bruce Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky 40 seconds apart to blow the game wide open.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said his team did not start the game the right way and that “the score could have easily been 4-1 or 5-1, if not for Bob.”
Three-Point Night From Vrbata Leads Phoenix – Phoenix Coyotes 3, Florida Panthers 1
Radim Vrbata provided the offense for the Coyotes Tuesday night, scoring the game-winning goal early in third period and assisting on the the other two Coyotes goals. The three points put ahead of defenseman Keith Yandle to lead the Coyotes in points this season, and for the team, they could not have come at a better time. The win over the Panthers kept the Coyotes only one point out of a playoff spot in a tightly contested Western Conference playoff race.
Vrbata downplayed his productive night, saying that “you get a couple lucky bounces and you start feeling good about yourself.” He continued by saying that it is like that for a lot of guys in the NHL.
Pittsburgh Continues Long Streak Against Capitals – Washington Capitals 0, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals have been long-time rivals, dating back to the days of when Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr wore the Penguins uniform. But lately, it can hardly be called a rivalry, as one side has had a decisive advantage over the other. The Penguins completed their season sweep of the Washington Capitals thanks to a 32-save shutout performance from Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and a late period goal from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
The game saw a strange sight, as the two teams played almost 14 minutes in the first period without a whistle to stop the play. When Washington goaltender Jaroslav Halak finally covered the puck to stop play at the 5:36 mark of the period, the Pittsburgh faithful in the arena rained down boos upon him.
Dallas Captain Gives Emotional Victory in Overtime – Dallas Stars 3, St. Louis Blues 2 (OT)
It could not have worked out any better if it was scripted. Just one night after a scary incident on the Dallas bench, which saw forward Rich Peverley collapse early in the first period due to a cardiac issue, the Dallas Stars were right back on the ice Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. The Stars insisted they did not approach the game with a “Win it for Peverley” mentality, but Dallas captain Jamie Benn admitted after the game that they were all “thinking of Rich back home.”
Perhaps that what was going through Benn’s mind as he beat St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller shortside in overtime, giving the Stars an emotional victory. The sense of relief and euphoria that emanated from the team in their celebration spoke more than any post-game interview ever could.
Wild Blow Lead Late, Lose in Shootout – Edmonton Oilers 4, Minnesota Wild 3 (SO)
Edmonton Oiler forward Taylor Hall does not get many chances in the shootout, and with the game on his stick, he was understandably nervous. But advice from his teammate, Jordan Eberle, allowed Hall to score the game-winning shootout goal and complete the comeback win against the Minnesota Wild. Eberle told Hall to open up Minnesota goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, and shoot it between the pads. It was a shot that had beaten Kuemper all game, allowing the three goals in regulation in a similar fashion.
Minnesota took a 3-0 lead in the first period after goals by Zach Parise, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Pominville. But goals by David Perron and Eberle would tie the game late in the third period for the Oilers, setting up the shootout win.
Jumbo Joe and Little Joe Dominate Leafs – Toronto Maple Leafs 2, San Jose Sharks 6
“Jumbo” Joe Thornton and “Little” Joe Pavelski each had three point nights as the San Jose Sharks thoroughly manhandled the outmatched Leafs. Pavelski scored his 33rd and 34th goals of the season, adding to a career-high season and Thornton racked up three assists on the night. The win closed the gap between the Sharks and the division-leading Anaheim Ducks.
The Leafs were never really in this game, putting up only 19 shots on San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi. Toronto goaltender James Reimer faced 48 shots. Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner scored both goals for the Leafs, but admitted that “from the beginning, we weren’t ready to play.”
This article is one in a daily series, providing coverage, analysis and predictions to NHL fans.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner
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