Atlantic Watch: 3/2-3/8

Every team in every sport goes through a rough patch. This week, the Flyers endured their first rough stretch of the season. Having only had a three game losing streak back in October, the Flyers had yet to really endure a losing streak similar to their recent four game slide. 

Prior to their win against Edmonton last night, the Flyers had lost in Ottawa before losing back-to-back home games against the Maple Leafs and Sabres capping off the whole thing by being blown out by the Rangers in New York on Sunday.

In the past week, the Flyers lost three of the four games in the losing streak (Maple Leafs, Sabres, and Rangers). In those three games, the Flyers lost three leads (two taking place in the Toronto game) and were out scored 6-0 in the third periods of those games.

Fortunately, the Flyers started going down the right path at the end of the week beating the league’s worst team in the Oilers 4-1 last night.

Several Flyers had a big week despite the team going 1-3-0 as a whole. Kris Versteeg registered three goals on the week highlighted with a two-goal performance against Toronto on Thursday. Jeff Carter helped Philly achieve their only win on the week netting two against Edmonton last night. He only scored one goal this week, but Kimmo Timonen’s goal happened to be his 100th career goal. Timonen scored the goal during the second period of Saturday’s game against Buffalo.

The Flyers have an opportunity to cancel out their recent woes with a winning streak against easily beatable opponents this week. After playing a desperate team in the Maple Leafs on Thursday, the Flyers play the Thrashers (3-6-1 in their last ten) on Saturday and the Panthers (3-5-2 in their last ten) on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at how our division did this week:

Pittsburgh Penguins:  2-0-2. Having three of their four games end in overtime this week, the Pens probably had the most entertaining week out of anybody in the Atlantic division. Overtime losses to the Maple Leafs and Devils along with an overtime win against Boston sums up the work Pittsburgh endured in the extra time this week. Add on a 3-1 win over Buffalo last night and one has the Pens record of 2-0-2.

After Phil Kessel tied the game at two five minutes into the third period, Mikhail Grabovski found the back of the net forty-two seconds into OT to strand the Pens with just a point on Wednesday.

Two nights later, Ilya Kovalchuk ripped one past Brent Johson to leave Pittsburgh with the same feeling of dissapointment as only twenty-five seconds remained in the overtime period.

The next day, Dustin Jeffrey finally put the Pens on the right side of an overtime goal. Scoring a minute and fifty-two seconds into the extra period, Jeffrey erased the Penguins earlier lapse in the game where they allowed a goal with just thirty-three seconds left in regulation.

Dustin Jeffrey had a big week for the Penguins scoring two goals in their overtime win against Boston. Matt Niskanen had a big game on Wednesday having a rare two-point night registering his first goal of the season as well as assisting on Chris Conner’s second period goal.

Pittsburgh will be getting its fill of Canada this week as they host the Canadiens on Saturday and the Oilers on Sunday only to follow up those games with a visit to Ottawa on Tuesday.

New York Rangers: 2-1-0. The Rangers week progressively got better as they went from losing by three to winning by seven.

After Sean Avery opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game on Thursday against Minnesota, the Wild rattled off the next three to take the game 3-1. With the win, Wild netminder Jose Theodore is now 9-0-1 against the Rangers in his last ten games at Madison Square Garden.

Despite playing on back-to-back nights and traveling to Ottawa, the Rangers were able to beat the Sens 4-1 on Friday. Derek Stepan had a goal and an assist while Wojtek Wolski had two assists.

Returning to New York for their Sunday game against divisional rival Philly, the Rangers enjoyed one of their biggest wins of the season. Beating the Flyers 7-0, Ryan Callahan had a four-goal game while Mats Zuccarello had a two-goal game in the Rangers first win over the Flyers all season long.

Callahan definitely had the biggest week for the Rangers as he had a five-point game for New York on Sunday against Philly. In addition to his four goal, one assist effort on Sunday, Callahan had an assist in the Ottawa game on Friday. Vinny Prospal had a goal and three assists this week highlighted by his two-assist performance on Sunday.

In the upcoming week, the Rangers play the Ducks tonight, Sharks on Saturday, and Islanders on Tuesday.  

New Jersey Devils: 3-1-0. If it wasn’t for Ottawa rookie Erik Condra, the Devils could be looking at a 4-0-0 record this week. One-goal victories over the Lightning and Penguins with a shootout win over the Islanders on Sunday gave the Devils three wins on the week before falling to the Sens 2-1 last night.

A late second period goal by Henrik Tallinder along with a Kovalchuk goal in the third erased a 1-0 deficit and gave the Devils a 2-1 over the visiting Lightning on Wednesday.

After Kovalchuk scored in overtime to beat Pittsburgh on Friday, the Devils found themselves in another close game Sunday against the Isles. Blake Comeau tied the game up at two with just three minutes and forty-two seconds left in regulation. As neither team found a goal for the rest of regulation or overtime, the game went to a shootout. In the sixth round of the shootout, Brian Rolston was able to put the puck past Al Montoya to give New Jersey the additional point.

Condra opened the scoring on Tuesday four minutes and forty-five seconds into the game. After Patrik Elias tied the game early in the second period, Condra scored his second goal of the game (and forth of the season) with just two minutes and thirteen seconds left in regulation.

As expected, Kovalchuk had a huge week for the Devils. Kovy scored the game-winning goals in the Devils’ games against the Lightning and Penguins. Kovalchuk also scored a goal in the third period on Sunday against the Isles before scoring a shootout goal to keep the Devils alive for the extra point. 

The Devils look to gain ground in the standings against two of the Eastern Conference’s weaker teams this week. A trip to Atlanta on Friday is followed up with home games against the Isles on Saturday and Thrashers on Tuesday.

New York Islanders: 3-1-0. Considering their only loss was a six round shootout loss to the red hot Devils, the Islanders had a week to be satisfied with. Three goal wins over the Wild and Blues along with an overtime win over the Maple Leafs last night gave the Isles three wins on the week.

Scoring four unanswered goals to open the scoring Wednesday, the Islanders waltzed their way to a 4-1 win against the visiting Wild.

Spending the first two periods of their game Saturday similar to how they spent them Wednesday, the Isles scored three unanswered goals before Andy McDonald responded early in the third period for the Blues. Unable to get his team motivated, McDonald and the rest of the St. Louis squad fell to the Islanders 5-2.

After enduring the shootout loss to New Jersey on Sunday, the Islanders found a way of their own to win past regulation. With just under a minute left before the shootout, Blake Comeau tipped in a Radek Martinek shot to edge out the visiting Maple Leafs 4-3.

Blake Comeau had four goals on the week including a two-goal game against Minnesota on Wednesday and the overtime goal against Toronto last night. Frans Nielsen had a goal and five assists this week highlighted by a three assist night against Minnesota. Nielsen also had the Isles’ lone goal in the shootout on Sunday.

The Islanders have a rough schedule this week as they host Boston on Friday, visit the Devils on Saturday, and visit the Rangers on Tuesday.