Atlantic Watch: 11/30-12/6

Taking part in their first two-game week since the opening week of the season, the Flyers enjoyed two road wins against Western Conference opponents on Friday and Saturday. Claude Giroux provided a pair of game-winning goals as Ilya Bryzgalov got back on track this week winning back-to-back road games for the first time since his shutout against the New Jersey Devils on October 8. Looking ahead, the Flyers face Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin in their upcoming four-game week.

Trailing 0-3 midway through the game on Friday, the Flyers scored the next four to win 4-3 in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks. Giroux slapped home the game-winning goal on the power play in overtime as Jaromir Jagr had two goals on ten shots in his first game back from his lower-body injury. Assisting on Scott Hartnell’s game-tying goal late in the third period, Jagr was one of two Flyers on the night with three points as Kimmo Timonen had three primary assists. Thanks to a Ryan Getzlaf double minor for tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct just 41 seconds into overtime, the Flyers were able to outshoot the Ducks 8-1 in the extra frame before finally finding the game-winner. Bryzgalov had 19 saves on 22 shots for the win.

The following day, the Flyers traveled to Phoenix and handed the Coyotes a 4-2 loss. Giroux tallied his second game-winner in as many nights as the Flyers produced a four-goal first period. Given a four-goal lead with just over two periods left to play, Bryzgalov allowed two goals on the final 25 shots he saw to grab the win against his former team. He had 36 saves in all. Matt Read continued his fine play with a goal and two assists, while Danny Briere had back-to-back two-assist games to serve as the only players in the game with more than one point. Hartnell netted his 11th of the year late in the first on a power play as Wayne Simmonds scored his fifth goal of the season ending a seven-game stretch without a tally.

After being pulled against the New York Islanders two weeks ago, Bryzgalov is starting to play how we expected him to play after signing him this offseason. Saving 55 out of a possible 60 shots this weekend, Bryzgalov had a save percentage of .917 to lead the Flyers to consecutive road wins.

In roster moves this week, the Flyers sent Brandon Manning down to the Adirondack Phantoms, while bringing up defenseman Matt Walker.

Despite being on the Flyers’ roster, Manning didn’t play any games for Philadelphia since he was on the IR. Since being moved down to the AHL, Manning has taken part in one game putting one shot on net and registering 17 PIM.

Walker hasn’t played for Philly since being called up. The veteran defender has played in three games for the Flyers this season, posting a minus-2 rating and 16 PIM.

The Flyers start their four-game week tonight with a visit to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Tomorrow, the Flyers return home to host the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season. On Saturday, the Orange and Black host the Tampa Bay Lightning before visiting the Washington Capitals on Tuesday to start a stretch of seven road games in the final eight to end the month December.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. After handing two teams who are currently in a slump losses, the Penguins suffered their first regulation loss at home since their 3-2 loss on October 15 to the Sabres. The Pens managed to grab four points this week despite the fact Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were goalless. The Pens hope their offense will be more efficient than their six goals on 121 shots this week with upcoming games against the Flyers and Red Wings.

On Thursday, Chris Kunitz netted the game-winner early in the third period to give the Pens a 2-1 win over the Capitals in Washington. Simon Despres, who made his NHL debut, registered the secondary assist on Kunitz’s goal while also going plus-2 with a shot on net. Pittsburgh’s defense was stingy as they held Washington to 17 shots all game and to only two shots in the third period. Craig Adams had his second goal of the year in the first period, while Malkin couldn’t find the back of the net despite posting seven shots.

Finishing up their four-game road trip two days later, the Pens handed the Hurricanes a 3-2 loss in Carolina. Pascal Dupuis had his eighth goal of the season, and second game-winner, at exactly the midway point of the third period. Continuing his point producing ways, Adams had his first two-point night since December 10, 2010 as he opened the scoring in the second period and had the primary assist on Arron Asham’s goal in the third period. Crosby and Malkin registered their only points of the week as Crosby had the primary assist on Adams’ goal, while Malkin assisted on Dupuis’ game-winner in the third period. Crosby experienced the same frustration Malkin did a game earlier against the Caps as he posted seven shots on net without providing a goal.

Returning home, Pittsburgh concluded their week with a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday night. Benoit Pouliot recorded yet another important goal for Boston as he put home the game-winning goal 7:18 into the second period. With the four goals he has scored this season, Pouliot has three game-winning goals for Boston. Matt Cooke had the Pens’ only tally as he ended an 11-game stretch without a goal. Tim Thomas made 45 saves for Boston as five Pens produced five shots or more on the Boston netminder. Malkin led his team with nine shots, while Tyler Kennedy had eight shots on net, James Neal and Dupuis had six, and Crosby posted five shots on net.

The Penguins’ wins this week came despite the lack of production from their top players. Along with the performances of Crosby and Malkin, Jordan Staal and James Neal didn’t help the team much as both players failed to notch a single point during the week. The fact that Adams, who came into the week with only three points on the season, led all of Pittsburgh in scoring indicates just how good their defense is, as well as just how cold their offense is at the moment.

As mentioned earlier, Despres made his NHL debut as he was called up from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins earlier in the week. Selected in the first round by the Penguins in the 2009 NHL Draft, Despres has an assist, plus-2 rating, and six PIM since being called up.

In other moves, the Penguins recalled defenders Robert Bortuzzo and Alexandre R. Picard due to their banged up blue line. Bortuzzo played in his third, fourth, and fifth games with Pittsburgh this year, going pointless with a plus-1 rating and a shot on net this week. Picard played in his eighth game with Pittsburgh this year in Monday night’s loss posting a minus-1 rating in 19 shifts spanning over 14:24 ice time.

Tomorrow night, the Pens travel across the state to take on the Flyers. On Saturday, the Pens travel to Long Island to take on the Islanders for the fourth time this season. To conclude the week, the Pens return home to host Detroit on Tuesday night in a rematch of the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.

New York Rangers: 2-1-0. The Rangers lost their last game to the Maple Leafs on Monday, ending a five-game winning streak. Sitting at the middle of the division with 15 wins, the Rangers have earned 12 of those wins due to a seven-game winning streak and the five-game winning streak that was snapped Monday. With his loss on Monday, Henrik Lundqvist has had a save percentage below .900 in two of his last three starts. The Rangers will endure a busy week as they play four non-divisional games.

The Rangers started their week off in Carolina with a 5-3 win over the Hurricanes on Thursday. Sean Avery managed to grab the game-winner as he netted his third goal of the season 13:47 into the middle stanza. Avery’s goal was his first game-winner since he scored the decisive goal on January 8 against the St. Louis Blues. Marian Gaborik led all Rangers in points with a goal and an assist, while Michael Sauer scored his first goal since April 4. A Ryan Callahan power-play goal in the first along with Ryan McDonagh’s fourth goal of the season completed the Rangers’ scoring as Martin Biron recorded 28 saves in the win.

Two days later, the Rangers concluded their five-game winning streak with a 4-2 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Derek Stepan provided his second game-winner of the season with only 3:19 left in regulation as he was one of four Rangers on the night with a two-point game. Stepan, Brad Richards, and Artem Anisimov each had a goal and an assist, while McDonagh had a two-assist game. Ruslan Fedotenko netted his fourth goal of the season as the Rangers were only charged with one minor during the entire game. Lundqvist had 24 saves as the Rangers outshot the Bolts 27-16 in the final forty minutes.

Ending their winning streak, the Rangers took part in their first multi-goal loss since November 19 losing 4-2 at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Joffrey Lupul connected on the power play early in the second period to notch the game-winner as he led all Maple Leafs with seven shots. Anisimov also had seven shots, as he also recorded a goal in the second period along with 4 PIM. Brandon Prust and Brandon Dubinsky were the only Rangers who were plus-1 on the day as 11 of the 18 New York skaters were minus-1 or worse. The Rangers have four two-goal losses on the season, two of which are 4-2 losses to the Maple Leafs in New York (first one was on October 27).

This biggest roster move accomplished by the Rangers this week was sending Andre Deveaux down to the Connecticut Whale in the AHL. After clearing waivers, Deveaux had two goals, one assist, 11 shots, and seven PIM in the three games he played for Connecticut.

The Rangers start their week by hosting the Lightning tomorrow night. Two days later, the Rangers travel to Buffalo to play the Sabres before returning home to play the Florida Panthers on Sunday. In New York’s final game of the week, the Dallas Stars visit Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

New Jersey Devils: 1-3-0. The Devils failed to win a game in regulation this week as New Jersey dropped their first three before winning in overtime last night against the Maple Leafs. Being outscored 14-5 in their first three games, the Devils nearly blew a two-goal lead in their final game last night before David Clarkson scored halfway through overtime. New Jersey’s upcoming week features two home games against Northeast Division opponents before ending with two road games against Southeast Division opponents.

The Devils started their four-game road trip with a 6-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. T.J. Galiardi recorded his first game-winner of the season with his goal at the 14:14 mark of a 3-0 first period for the Avs. Ilya Kovalchuk netted his fifth of the season a little over midway through the game to cut the Devils’ deficit to two goals before the Avs had another three-goal period in the third. Ryan O’Reilly had a three-point night with a goal and two assists as Milan Hejduk and Kyle Quincey provided two-point nights for a team who only had one player end the game with a negative plus/minus (Chuck Kobasew). Martin Brodeur allowed six goals on 25 shots for a save percentage of .760 setting his season high for goals allowed and season low for save percentage in one game.

Carrying over his poor performance into the Devils’ next game, Brodeur turned in one of his worst nights as New Jersey lost 4-2 to the Wild in Minnesota on Friday night. Making one save on the first four shots he faced, Brodeur was pulled 8:17 into the game after handing the Wild an early 3-1 lead. Casey Wellman scored the game-winning goal for Minnesota, which was the final goal on Brodeur before Johan Hedberg replaced him making 11 saves on 12 shots. Zach Parise had a goal and an assist as Kovalchuk scored in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Both players combined for 14 shots on net, while the entire Wild team posted 16 shots.

Extending their losing streak to four games, the Devils suffered a 4-2 loss to the Jets in Winnipeg on Saturday. Mark Stuart put home the game-winner 13:13 into the third period as Evander Kane had a two-goal game for Winnipeg. Continuing the goaltending woes for New Jersey, Hedberg allowed three goals on 19 shots for another performance featuring a save percentage below .900 (.842). Adam Henrique posted his sixth goal of the season in the first period, while Patrik Elias scored his ninth goal of the season on a late second period power play for Jersey. The turning point in the game came late in the second period, when the Devils were going on the power play with a 2-1 lead. Looking to extend their lead to two goals entering the third period, the Devils allowed Alexander Burmistrov to score shorthanded to tie the game at two.

Ending a four-game slide, the Devils squeaked out a 3-2 overtime win against the Maple Leafs in Toronto last night. Clarkson recorded the game-winner 2:40 into overtime for the Devils’ first win since their 1-0 win against the Islanders on November 25th. Clarkson also had a power-play goal in the first period, as did Kovalchuk to give the Devils’ a 2-0 lead 8:59 into the game. Out shot 26-14 in the last two periods of the game, New Jersey allowed the Maple Leafs to force overtime by scoring the game’s next two goals. New Jersey killed off both of Toronto’s power-play opportunities, including an Elias slashing minor with only 2:16 left in the game.

Of the three roster moves surronding the New Jersey Devils this week, Nick Palmieri was the only player recalled from the Albany Devils this week. In his first game since being called back up, Palmieri was a minus-1 in 5:28 TOI last night in Toronto.

The other two roster moves were forward Brad Mills and defenseman Alexander Urbom being demoted to the AHL.

In his three games with Albany this week, Mills had a goal, an assist, nine shots on net, and seven PIM.

Also playing in three games for Albany this week, Urbom had five shots on net and was a plus-1.

Playing in their first home game since November 26 on Thursday night, the Devils host the Ottawa Senators. On Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens come to Jersey to take on the Devils in a matinee tilt. Two days later, the Devils travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. To finish the week, the Devils will stay in Florida to take on the Panthers Tuesday night.

New York Islanders: 2-0-1. The Islanders have been looking pretty good recently as they have won four of their last five games. Since their lone loss came via a shootout, the Islanders have earned points in five straight games. Before their recent stretch of success, the last time the Islanders earned points in back-to-back games came in their last two games to end the month of October. Over the next seven days, the Isles will test their point streak against two of the tougher teams in the league before concluding the week against a Northeast Division opponent. 

Jonathan Toews was the only player to score in the shootout as the Islanders lost 5-4 on the road to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. Toews also had a shorthanded goal and an assist in regulation as the Hawks won the first of the teams’ two meetings this season. Both P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson picked up a goal and an assist on the evening, as John Tavares had a two-assist night. Kyle Okposo opened the scoring with a power-play goal 4:07 into the contest for his third goal of the season. Nino Niederreiter forced the game past regulation with his first goal of the season 8:55 into the third period. Frans Nielsen, Niederreiter, and Moulson all missed their opportunities to score for the Islanders in the shootout.

The following day, Moulson had a night to remember in the Isles 5-4 win in Dallas against the Stars. He totaled a career-high four goals (a Texas-size hat trick if you will) — scoring a power-play goal in the first along with the game-winner late in the second period. Tavares and Parenteau had a huge impact on Moulson’s productive night as both players had three assists, all on Moulson’s goals. Dylan Reese had the other Islanders’ marker as he recorded his first goal since April 3rd, 2010. Reese’s goal was his first of the season coming in a game where three Dallas Stars’ (Tomas Vincour, Jake Dowell, and Tom Wandell) netted their firsts of the season as well. Rick DiPietro received the win on a 17-save effort before leaving the game with a groin injury. Seven of the nine goals in the game came in a 14:22 span in the second period.

Continuing their hot streak, the Isles handed the Lightning a 5-1 road loss last night. Matt Martin had the game-winner late in a first period where the Islanders scored three times in the last 5:59.It was a game of firsts for New York as David Ullstrom scored his first goal in the NHL early in the first period and Milan Jurcina put home his first goal of the season on the power-play with only six seconds left in the first period. Both Moulson and Tavares had a goal and an assist, while Mark Streit had a two-assist night for the Isles in their second 5-1 win over the Lightning this season.

The Islanders are still last in the division with a 9-11-5 record, but the team hasn’t had any string of success similar to this at any point in the season. Before these last five games, New York was 5-11-4 and had only gained three points in their last seven games. This positive stretch of play for the Islanders over the last two weeks has been their biggest point streak since their seven-game point streak that ended on March 12 last season (4-0-3).

The Islanders recalled three players from their AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this week. After bringing up Reese on Thursday, both Kevin Poulin and Tim Wallace were called up on Monday.

Playing in his first three games for the Isles this season, Reese had a goal, 4 PIM, and 2 shots on net while being plus-1.

Wallace played in his first game ever for the Islanders last night earning an assist on 14 shifts while posting a plus/minus of plus-2.

Poulin didn’t reach the ice for the Islanders this week.

After playing the Blackhawks in New York tomorrow night, the Islanders conclude their homestand with a match-up against the Pens on Saturday. The Isles conclude the week with a trip to Montreal to take on the Canadiens on Tuesday night.