Atlantic Watch: 10/12-10/18

Three more games for the Flyers this week resulted in five more points in the standings. Losing their first game of the year in overtime to the Kings, the Flyers are no longer perfect on the season. However, since they won their other games in the week, the Flyers still haven’t lost in regulation this season.

Sure, it’s upsetting to lose a game like Saturday’s to Los Angeles, a team featuring former Philly teammates Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, but it’s important to earn points early in the year. It’s also important to see many of the young players stepping up for the Flyers already this season. The output by these players is helping to eliminate the fear that these players won’t mesh and that they can’t perform under pressure.

The work is nowhere near done for Philly as they enter possibly their most difficult week of the season to date.

After scoring three goals in the first period, the Flyers were able to hold on in the third period to beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4. Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists, all coming in the first period, while Andrej Meszaros had the game-winner on a goal set up by Danny Briere.

In Richards’ return to Philadelphia, the Kings handed the Flyers their first loss of the season 3-2 in overtime. Richards set up Jack Johnson’s game-winning goal in overtime as Jonathan Quick made nine more saves than Ilya Bryzgalov. Matt Carle scored a goal to tie the game late as well as tie his goal total from the 2010-2011 regular season.

The Flyers ended the week by beating the Senators in Ottawa by a score of 7-2. Scoring four goals in the first period, the Flyers dominated most of the game scoring three goals on the power play and having two rookies score their first goals in the NHL.

Both Sean Couturier and Harry Zolnierczyk racked up their first career NHL goals while Max Talbot scored his first goal in a Flyers’ uniform. Alex Auld made six saves on 10 shots before being pulled after the first period.

Matt Read displayed an amazing week for the Flyers totaling five points in all. Four of his five points came last night, as he had a goal and three assists in Philly’s trampling of Ottawa. In addition to opening the scoring last night, Read also had the primary assists on the goals from Wayne Simmonds and Talbot.

The Flyers look to keep their winning ways intact as they go against a couple tough teams this week. Tomorrow night, the Flyers host the undefeated Washington Capitals, who enter the Wells Fargo Center 5-0-0 on the season. On Saturday, the Flyers host the St.Louis Blues. Then to conclude the week, the Flyers host the 3-0-1 Toronto Maple Leafs.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 1-2-1. Opening the week with three straight losses, the Penguins finally notched a win in Minnesota last night to gain three points in seven days. The Pens week consisted of an overtime loss to Washington, regulation losses to Buffalo and Winnipeg, and a win against the Wild. The game of note for the Penguins this week was their loss to the Jets, which was Winnipeg’s first win since the franchise returned to Canada this season.

Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps an early 2-1 third period lead, but James Neal was able to tie it up with his second goal of the game with just 3:45 left in regulation. Despite pushing the game to overtime, the Pens fell short as Dennis Wideman netted the winner just halfway through the extra period to give the Caps a 3-2 win.

Two nights later, the Penguins lost to the Sabres 3-2. Giving up two goals in the first period and a goal in the third period, the Penguins couldn’t muster enough offense to push the game past regulation. Neal scored his fifth goal of the year and Staal scored late in the third period, but it wasn’t enough as the Pens lost back-to-back home games.  

If the Pens were hoping a road trip could change their losing ways, their start surely didn’t boost their confidence. Thanks to a Kyle Wellwood goal just eight seconds into the game and a Tanner Glass goal late in the first period, the Jets had all they needed to beat Pittsburgh 2-1. Marc-Andre Fleury had four more saves than Ondrej Pavelec, but the only Penguin to score all game was Zybnek Michalek. The loss gave the Penguins their first three-game losing streak since February.

Returning to the win column last night, the Penguins beat the Wild 4-2. Chris Kunitz finally scored his first goal of the year and Neal registered the game-winner early in the third as Brent Johnson made 24 saves in the win. Pascal Dupuis had a shorthanded goal and an assist while Matt Cooke had a pair of assists as well. Although they out scored the Wild in the final two periods, the Pens were out shot 20-16 in the final 40 minutes.

Neal had another impressive offensive week scoring three goals for the Pens as well as having the team’s only game-winner all week long. He leads the team with six goals and is tied with Phil Kessel for the league lead in that category.

Cooke had three assists this week putting him third on the team in that category. The only two players in front of him are Kris Letang with 6 and Dupuis with 4.

The Penguins have three games this week, two of which come against tough divisional foes. Tomorrow, the Pens host the 1-3-1 Montreal Canadiens. On Saturday, the Pens take on the New Jersey Devils for the first time this season. To end the week, the Penguins travel to Long Island to take on the Islanders.   

New Jersey Devils: 2-0-0. Adding on to their win against the Hurricanes last Tuesday, the Devils went out and won both of their games this week in a shootout. After edging out the Kings at home, the Devils traveled to Nashville and squeaked out a victory against the Predators on Saturday night. Winning two games this week, the Devils are now 3-1-0 on the season.

With the help of former Flyers Gagne and Justin Williams, the Devils found themselves in an early hole on Thursday night. With a Gagne goal, assisted by Williams, just 1:47 into the game, Patrik Elias responded later in the period to tie the game at one. This score held up until the game reached a shootout, where both Ilya Kovalchuk and Parise scored for Jersey while Gagne and Anze Kopitar were both stopped by Johan Hedberg for a 2-1 Devils’ win.

Two days later, the Devils found themselves down by a pair entering the third period in Nashville due to tallies by Colin Wilson and Jerred Smithson in the first period. Thanks to Kovalchuk’s second goal of the year a minute into the third and David Clarkson’s first goal of the year just six minutes later, the Devils were able to push another game past regulation. Reaching the shootout for the second straight game, the Devils were able to pull off the 3-2 win. The tandem of Kovalchuk and Parise scored again for Jersey, while both Cal O’Reilly and Matt Halischuk couldn’t register goals for the Preds in the shootout. 

Kovalchuk was the most productive player offensively for the Devils this week. Scoring on both his opportunities in the shootout this week, Kovalchuk also scored a goal to start New Jersey’s comeback against the Predators. He now has 2 goals and 2 assists on the year. 

Elias had the most points for his team this week registering the game-tying goal against the Kings and providing the secondary assist on Kovalchuk’s goal against Nashville. Parise also had a strong week scoring twice in the shootout and assisting on Elias’s goal against Los Angeles.

Ending their five-day break, the Devils host the San Jose Sharks on Friday night to start off their trio of games this week. Traveling to Pittsburgh the next day, the Devils visit the Penguins for their first match-up against their divisional rival in the 2011-2012 season. To finish off the week, the Devils start a West Coast road trip by playing the Kings on Tuesday night, a game that doesn’t start until 10:30 pm Eastern time.

New York Islanders: 2-0-0. Since dropping their first game of the season, the Islanders have won three straight games. Two of those wins came this week with victories against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Rangers. In the two wins at home this week, the Isles out scored their opposition 7-3. Despite being third in the division and sixth in the conference, the Islanders are 3-1-0.

Scoring four goals on fifteen shots in the first period, the Islanders were able to trample the Lightning 5-1 on Thursday night. John Tavares opened the scoring 36 seconds into the game and had one of the four Islanders’ first period goals. Matt Moulson provided the game-winning goal at just the 9:28 mark of the first period.

Two nights later, the Islanders ended their home stand with a 4-2 win against the Rangers. Moulson scored another mid-period goal in the first, but this time it opened the scoring and wasn’t the game-winner. Scoring two of his three goals on the night in the third period, Tavares had the game-winning goal as well as an assist on Moulson’s first period tally.

Making his Islanders’ debut on Saturday night, Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves for his first NHL victory since May of 2010. He made 10 saves in the third period while not allowing a single Rangers’ goal.

Tavares had the most impressive week for any Islanders’ player as he had five goals and three assists in the two-game span. Even though he didn’t have both game-winning goals on the week, he had the primary assist on Moulson’s game-winner against the Lightning on Thursday. 

Moulson and Parenteau had strong weeks as well. Moulson had two goals and two assists, while Parenteau had one goal and four assists. Three of Parenteau’s four assists came against the Rangers.

The Islanders play their first road game of the year this week as they travel to Tampa Bay tomorrow to take on the Lightning. Staying in Florida, the Islanders take on the Panthers two days later in attempt to avenge their loss to Florida in the season opener. To conclude the week, the Islanders return home to take on the Penguins on Tuesday.

New York Rangers: 1-1-0. The Rangers finally won a game this week beating the Canucks last night. With the help of a loss to the Islanders on Saturday, the Rangers were the only team in the Atlantic without a win before last night. Sitting with a record of 1-1-2, the Rangers are at the bottom of the division.

Thanks to Tavares and Nabokov, the Rangers lost their first regular season game in North America 4-2 on Saturday against the Islanders. Marian Gaborik and Brandon Prust scored for the Rangers, but Tavares’ big night trumped the whole Rangers’ roster. Nabokov made one less save than Henrik Lundqvist, but he did enough to register his first win in the NHL this season.

The Rangers and Canucks were scoreless after 40 minutes last night, but the Rangers came alive in the third period to win the game 4-0.

Mike Rupp opened the scoring 2:22 into the period and was awarded the game-winner as Lundqvist stopped all 40 of the Canucks’ shots. Ryan McDonagh, Brian Boyle, and Gaborik scored the other goals for the Rangers as they rolled to their first win since Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match-up against the Capitals last year.

Gaborik led the team in goals this week as he scored one in each game. His pair this week gives him the team lead with three goals on the young season.

With only nine points in 40 games last season, McDonagh had a big third period against the Canucks last night posting a goal and an assist. It’s McDonagh’s first career two-point game.

Three games against three Canadian teams with losing records gives the Rangers a chance to gain ground in the standings this week. They open the week traveling to Calgary and taking on the Flames tomorrow night. On Saturday, the Rangers take on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the Oilers. To finish off the week, the Rangers face the Jets on Monday night.