Atlantic Watch: 11/23-11/29

The Flyers won back-to-back games to start the week before dropping a Winter Classic preview on Saturday as they earned four out of a possible six points. Ilya Bryzgalov only saw 20 minutes of action this week stopping six out of a possible nine shots, while Sergei Bobrovsky provided a great relief appearance on Wednesday along with starting both of the weekend games. With several injuries and transactions adding the usual drama, the Flyers look to beat two Western Conference opponents in the upcoming week.

To start the week off, the Flyers overcame a 3-1 deficit to hand the New York Islanders a 4-3 overtime loss in New York. After scoring the game-tying goal with only 5:42 left in regulation, Danny Briere also put home the game-winning goal on the Flyers’ only shot in overtime for a two-goal night. The defense received strong performances from Andrej Meszaros, who scored 18 seconds into the game and looked solid defensively, and Braydon Coburn, who had assists on both of Briere’s goals. Despite being called for a penalty early in overtime, Scott Hartnell had two points on the night as he scored a power-play goal in the second period and set up Briere’s goal in overtime. This was the first of six games between the clubs, who won’t meet up again until January 12th.

Two days later, the Flyers overcame another deficit to hand the visiting Montreal Canadiens a 3-1 loss. Trailing 1-0 after the first period due to a rare Petteri Nokelainen tally, Claude Giroux scored two goals in the second period to help give the Flyers a 3-1 lead entering the third period. Jakub Voracek scored his fourth goal of the season late in the second period, while Coburn had yet another two-assist performance. Bobrovsky made 23 saves for the win, while opposing goaltender Carey Price made 33 saves in the loss. Price single-handedly kept his team in the game as Montreal was out shot 31-16 in the final two periods, one of which was the second period where Philly out shot the Canadiens 18-5.

The following day, the Flyers traveled to New York and suffered a 2-0 loss to the Rangers to end their week. Bobrovsky was in net for a third straight game making 30 out of a possible 32 saves in the loss. Henrik Lundqvist had a 29-save shutout as the Rangers’ defense did a good job of not giving the Flyers many scoring chances. Meszaros led all Flyers with five shots on net while Coburn and Hartnell produced the second most amount of shots at four apiece.

As the Flyers experience a few days off between their last game and Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, several injuries and roster moves have been addressed.

Chris Pronger, after missing four games due to a virus, will miss the next four weeks as a result of surgery on his left knee. Due to this injury, Kevin Marshall will remain with the Flyers over the next few weeks.

Jaromir Jagr left early in the second period of the Islanders’ game due to aggravating a groin pull. After missing this past Friday’s and Saturday’s games, Jagr is hopeful to return for Friday’s game.

James van Riemsdyk has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury and it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to go in Friday’s game; he was apparently injured in the third period of the Islanders’ game.

Adding on to the sting of Pronger’s absence, the defense will also be without Andreas Lilja, who was placed on injured reserved with a left ankle injury and is expected to miss 6 weeks.

After all the injuries, one notable transaction was completed by the Flyers this week. Andreas Nodl was waived on Monday and picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Nodl’s last recognizable play as a Flyer was colliding with Briere in the first period of the Flyers’ loss to the Rangers on Saturday.

As if all the injuries and player movement wasn’t enough for this week, Jody Shelley and Brandon Dubinsky started talking trash in preparation for the Winter Classic. After hearing how he ”plays like a little weasel” from Shelley in the HBO 24/7 Flyers-Rangers preview, Dubinsky decided to say Shelley is “a terrible hockey player”. The animosity could be seen between the two clubs on Saturday as only one more meeting between the teams (December 23rd in New York) will be played before the Winter Classic on January 2nd.

As far as actual action on the ice, the Flyers start out the month of December with two road games. Their first comes Friday night, as they play the Anaheim Ducks at 10 PM. The following day, the Flyers travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes for the second time this season at 8 PM.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-1. After losing in overtime last Wednesday, the Penguins beat two Canadian teams before losing to the New York Rangers last night. The Pens are still at the top of the Atlantic Division, as well as the Eastern Conference, with a three-point lead over the second place Flyers and Rangers. The Penguins posted a record of 6-4-2 for the month of November as they prepare for their 13 games in December, two of which come against the Flyers.

The Penguins dropped a 3-2 overtime decision last Wednesday at home to the St. Louis Blues. Alex Pietrangelo netted the game-winner with only 53 seconds left in overtime as Brian Elliott had 31 saves in the win. Evgeni Malkin had a two-assist night, while Steve Sullivan scored a power-play goal early in the second and James Neal tallied late in the second period. Sidney Crosby may have been a plus-1 on the night, but he racked up six PIM and managed to go pointless in the Penguins second overtime loss at home this season.

Two nights later, the Pens redeemed themselves with a 6-3 win against the visiting Ottawa Senators. After Kaspars Daugavins opened the scoring just 1:19 into the game, the Penguins recorded the next four goals in rapid succession. With four goals in a 7:25 span in the first period, the Penguins forced Craig Anderson out of the game after he allowed four goals on eight shots. Tyler Kennedy had a goal and two assists, while Crosby had three assists as both were the only players with three points on the night. In addition to providing the primary assist on Pascal Dupuis’ second period goal, Arron Asham fought Zenon Konopka only 1:48 into the game.

The following day, the Penguins traveled to Montreal to hand the Canadiens a 4-3 overtime loss. Kris Letang had a night to remember as he was taken out of the game due to a Max Pacioretty hit that broke his nose only to return and grab the game-winner 2:09 into overtime. In addition to his return and his overtime goal, Letang also unleashed a shot that shattered Price’s stick. Malkin had a goal and an assist, while Crosby had two assists in the Penguins’ last win in November.

Last night, the Rangers erupted for four goals in the second period on their way to a 4-3 win at home. Neal had a goal and an assist as Crosby had yet another two-assist night as the Penguins failed to create chances in the third period to tie the game at four. Despite a goal from Dupuis at just the 3:39 mark of the third period, the Penguins only forced Lundqvist to make two more saves for the rest of the period. Surprisingly, Marc-Andre Fleury had more saves than Lundqvist as the Pens’ netminder racked up 26 in the loss.

The Penguins’ scoring leaders are quickly returning to both Crosby and Malkin as they each had seven points this week. Crosby didn’t score at all this week, but he did produce seven assists despite not registering any points against the Blues. Malkin had three goals and four assists.

The Pens finish off their four-game road trip facing the two newest coaches in the NHL. Tomorrow, the Pens travel to Washington to take on Dale Hunter and the Capitals. On Saturday, Pittsburgh will visit Carolina to take on Kirk Muller and the Hurricanes. To finish the week, the Boston Bruins visit Pittsburgh on Monday night for the Pens’ first home game in what would be 10 days.

New York Rangers: 3-1-0. After dropping their first game this week, the Rangers are currently on a three-game winning streak heading into the next seven days. The Rangers’ loss this week gave them back-to-back losses after a enduring a seven-game winning streak. The last game the Rangers lost by more than a goal was their 4-2 loss at home on October 27. New York plays three games this week, all of which are against teams outside of the Atlantic Division.

In their first game of the week, the Rangers lost 2-1 to the Panthers in Florida. Tomas Fleischmann had two assists as both Kris Versteeg and Jason Garrison scored in the Panthers’ victory. Derek Stepan scored the only goal for New York in a game where Florida out shot the Rangers 31-12 in the final two periods of play. Lundqvist made 36 saves for his club in the loss.

Finishing their four-game road trip, the Rangers visited Washington to hand the Capitals a 6-3 loss. Ryan Callahan led all skaters in points as he had three assists in the game. Ruslan Fedotenko had a big game netting a pair of goals for his club. Both Brad Richards and Artem Anisimov had a goal and an assist while Dan Girardi posted two assists. The Rangers took control of the game in the second period, where they scored three goals in a 4:18 span and left the period with a 4-2 lead.

The following day, the Rangers finally returned home and handed the visiting Flyers a 2-0 loss. Lundqvist had 29 saves in the shutout as Brandon Prust grabbed 12 PIM in the first period of a highly heated affair. Carl Hagelin netted his first NHL goal as Richards scored the game-winner early in the second period. On special teams, both teams had three power-play chances, but the Rangers converted on one while Philly went 0-for-3.

To conclude their busy week, the Rangers beat the visiting Penguins 4-3. Entering the second period trailing 1-0, the Rangers outscored the Pens 4-1 in the second period. Richards had a game-high three points as he scored once and assisted twice. Both Marian Gaborik and Callahan had a goal and an assist while Hagelin had six shots on net.

Two players made their NHL debuts this week with the Rangers. As both were called up from the Connecticut Whale (AHL affiliate), John Mitchell and Hagelin have played in the three most recent games for New York.

Mitchell scored his first NHL goal in the second period against the Penguins. As for assists, Mitchell had the primary assist on Brian Boyle’s goal in the second period against the Caps and he also had the secondary assist on Hagelin’s first NHL goal.

Hagelin scored his first NHL in the third period against the Flyers, but he too racked up three points in his first three games as a Ranger. Producing all of his points off of the same goals as Mitchell did, Hagelin had the primary assist on Mitchell’s first NHL goal and had the secondary assist on Boyle’s goal against the Capitals.

On the road again this week, the Rangers open their week against two Southeast Division opponents. First, the Rangers take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Two days later, the Rangers will visit Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. To conclude their week, the Rangers return home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

New Jersey Devils: 2-1-0. The Devils may have won two out of their three games this week, but they should have swept their schedule considering they played the worst team in the Eastern Conference twice as well as the worst team in the league. Scoring a total of four goals all week, the highest-scoring game the Devils took part in came in their 3-2 loss on Saturday to the Islanders. Over the next seven days, the Devils take part in a four-game road trip against two Western Conference teams and two Canadian teams.

Despite being out shot 17-3 in the third period and taking six minors during the game, New Jersey found a way to squeak out a 2-1 shootout win at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dainius Zubrus provided the only goal for the Devils during regulation, while both Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise scored  on Curtis Sanford in the shootout to give Jersey the win. Martin Brodeur saved 35 shots for the Devils first home win since November 8 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Parise led all skaters with seven shots in the game.

Two days later, the Devils claimed the first of a home-and-home against the Islanders winning 1-0 in New York. Petr Sykora netted the game’s lone goal on the power play with only 5:47 left in the second period. Adam Larsson provided the primary assist and Adam Henrique had the secondary assist to complete the only trio of players to record a point on the day. Special teams proved critical in the game, as the Devils power play was 1-for-2 while the penalty kill denied four Islanders’ power plays. Johan Hedberg had a 23-save shutout for his second of the season.

The following day the Devils returned home to suffer a 3-2 loss to the Islanders on the back end of the home-and-home. In the dying seconds of the game, it looked as though Parise had tied the game at three goals apiece, but the refs went to the replay and decided the Devils’ forward put the puck in the net with a distinct kicking motion. Henrique had a goal and an assist, while Kovalchuk registered two assists despite turning the puck over to Michael Grabner early in the third period for his shorthanded game-winning goal. David Clarkson had a rough game producing only one shot on net with a minus-2.

Both Henrique and Larsson had three points from the four Devils’ goals scored this week. Henrique had a goal and two secondary assists, while Larsson had a goal and two primary assists.

In roster moves this week, the Devils assigned Nick Palmieri to the Albany Devils (AHL affiliate) and moved Tim Sestito up to the NHL roster.

The three Devils’ games this week were the first three games for Sestito at the NHL level this season. In those games, Sestito had two shots with a rating of minus-1.

The Devils have a busy schedule this week as they take part in four games, all of which are on the road. To finish out the month of November, the Devils travel to Colorado tonight and take on the Avalanche. On Friday, the Devils take on the Minnesota Wild before clashing on the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night. To finish the week, the Devils finish their road trip by traveling to Toronto to square off with the Maple Leafs.

New York Islanders: 2-1-1. The Islanders started the week off with two disappointing losses at home, but finished  the week strong with two road victories. After dropping two straight games by the scores of 6-0 and 5-0 respectively last week, the Isles took part in four straight one-goal games. As for the upcoming week, the Islanders will play two Western Conference opponents before returning home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Blowing a 3-1 lead, the Islanders suffered a 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers on Wednesday night. Kyle Okposo had two goals and an assist while Grabner had a goal and two assists to give the Islanders a two-goal lead late in the first period. Rick DiPietro had 29 saves, but couldn’t make the only one requested of him in overtime to keep his team alive. Travis Hamonic had two shots on net and provided his team with an early overtime power play, to which the Islanders declined to score.

Two days later, the Islanders couldn’t find the back of the net as they lost 1-0 at home to the Devils. Out shooting the Devils in the first and third period, no Islander could register a goal as four different Islanders had at least three shots on net. Dating back to Grabner’s goal with only 1:31 left in the first period of the Isles’ game on Wednesday, the Islanders had reached 103:05 without a goal.

The next day, the Islanders ended their losing streak, as well as their goalless streak, as they beat the Devils in New Jersey 3-2. Both Matt Moulson and Grabner scored their seventh goals on the season as Josh Bailey scored his second goal of the season in the Islanders’ first road win all year. In his first win since October 13, Al Montoya made 24 saves on 26 shots. Although he didn’t have any points or any shots, Andrew MacDonald led all skaters in plus/minus as he posted a plus-2 at the end of the game.

To conclude the week, the Islanders won back-to-back games for the first time since October 15th with a 2-1 win against the Sabres in Buffalo. Brian Rolston scored his first game-winning goal as an Islander halfway through the third period, while Moulson was the other Islander to score on the night with a first period power-play goal. With their back-to-back wins in the last two games, the Islanders doubled their win total for the month of November.

The most notable transaction of the week for Jack Capuano’s club has to be Blake Comeau being waived and picked up by the Calgary Flames. In his first two games with the Flames, Comeau went pointless.

After playing in 27 games for the Islanders last season, Micheal Haley was called up earlier in the week and took part in three Isles’ games this week. In only 16:45 ice-time over the three games, Haley had seven PIM and two shots on net.

The Islanders will try to extend their win streak to three games this weekend as they take on the Blackhawks in Chicago on Friday night. The next day, the Islanders will travel to Dallas to take on the Stars. To conclude the week, the Isles return home to host the Lightning on Tuesday night.