Atlantic Watch: 12/7-12/13

At this point in time, it looks like nothing can stop the Flyers. After winning their first two games in December last week, the Flyers went 4-0-0 this week winning a pair of games on the road and a pair of games at home. With their wins this week the Flyers are currently on a six-game winning streak, their first six-game winning streak since their undefeated run from October 26-November 6 early last season. Facing two Northeast Division opponents this week before traveling west, the Flyers look to keep their winning ways intact.

Claude Giroux intercepted a pass in the defensive zone before depositing it past Ryan Miller in overtime to give Philly the 5-4 win in Buffalo against the Sabres last Wednesday. Along with his second overtime goal in a three-game span, Giroux had three assists for a four-point game as he assisted on goals from Matt Read, Scott Hartnell, and Jaromir Jagr in the second period. After allowing three goals in the first, including the game-opening goal to former Flyer Ville Leino, Ilya Bryzgalov calmed down for the 20-save victory. The Flyers outshot Buffalo 34-24 overall, including a margin of 3-1 in overtime to extend their win streak to three games.

Returning to Philly the following day, the Flyers handed the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 defeat. Hartnell scored the game-winner 13:32 into the second period as his 13th goal of the season gave the Flyers enough to endure the Penguins’ offensive onslaught for the rest of the game. Wayne Simmonds led all Flyers with two points on the night as he scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play during the second period and assisted on Danny Briere’s fluke goal in the first period. Bryzgalov had 25 saves on the night highlighted with his performance in the third period, where he stopped 13 of the Pens’ 14 shots. Both Max Talbot and Jagr went pointless against their former team as both provided several scoring chances throughout.

Evgeni Malkin had two points while Sidney Crosby didn’t play for Pittsburgh.

Scoring power-play goals in back-to-back games, Simmonds also put home the game-winner for the Flyers in a 5-2 home victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Just over five minutes remained in the second period when Simmonds’ seventh of the season gave Philly enough for the win. Matt Carle registered his fourth of the season on the power play and Hartnell scored his 14th goal of the season on an empty Bolts’ net while Mathieu Garon was sitting on the bench in the third period.

Briere and Jagr netted goals in the second period for Philly in a game where both Giroux and Bryzgalov exited due to injuries. After being kneed in the back of his head by Simmonds, Giroux exited the game (with two assists) and hasn’t played since the incident due to a concussion. Bryzgalov, however, returned to the bench later in the game as Sergei Bobrovsky saved all three shots he faced in relief.

Finishing their week with a trip to Washington last night, the Flyers rolled over the Capitals 5-1. Marc-Andre Bourdon not only scored his first goal in the NHL, but he also had the decisive goal 7:23 into the second period as Washington’s Tomas Vokoun looked pathetic in net. Hartnell extended his goal-scoring streak to six games as Simmonds extended his to three games in a game where Vokoun could have easily saved all four of the goals he allowed on the 21 shots he faced. Talbot scored late in the second period while Jakub Voracek scored early in the third with Carle and James van Riemsdyk notching two-assist games.

Bryzgalov looked stellar in net saving 31 Washington shots overall, 16 of which came in the third period. There wasn’t much to complain about in this game, except for the fact referee Steve Walkom laid out Kimmo Timonen in the corner near the end of the game.

As stated in most of the game recaps from last night, injuries haven’t seemed to hurt the Flyers’ negatively yet as they are firing on all cylinders. Already dealing with Chris Pronger, Andreas Lilja, and Brayden Schenn being absent from the line-up, the Flyers had to deal with Giroux missing last night’s game. The Flyers may have received some good fortune from Vokoun’s horrible play last night, but they were also dominating the Caps’ offense and showed a lot more energy than their opposition. It’s scary to think of the Flyers’ team that played tonight with the addition of a healthy Pronger and Giroux later in the season.

Looking to extend their winning streak to seven games Thursday, the Flyers head up to Montreal to face the Canadiens, who are 4-2-4 in their last ten games. On Saturday, the Orange and Black play their final home game of 2011 with a matinee against the Boston Bruins. In their final game of the week, the Flyers take on the Avalanche as they look for their first win in Colorado since their 2-1 OT win on December 27, 2002.

New York Rangers: 2-1-1. For the Rangers this week, they either dominated their opponents or lost by the slimmest of margins. Out scoring their opponents 10-2 in their two wins this week, New York’s losses came via a shootout and a 1-0 loss last night. With their fourth shootout taking place on Thursday, the Rangers have only won one of those games that have gone past overtime.

In a game where Artem Anisimov stole the storyline, the Tampa Bay Lightning handed the Rangers a 3-2 shootout loss. After producing a spectacular backhanded goal while his team was shorthanded with less than two minutes left in regulation, Dominic Moore registered the only goal in the shootout to end Tampa Bay’s five-game losing streak. Ryan Callahan notched a power-play goal in the first for his 11th of the season to open the scoring before Ryan Malone tied it midway through the second period. Anisimov scored a nice shorthanded goal minutes after Malone’s goal, but decided to celebrate by pretending to snipe Vincent Lecavalier with his stick. The mindless action resulted in a skirmish in the neutral zone. Henrik Lundqvist saved 29 shots in regulation and overtime as well as stopping Malone in the shootout, but it wasn’t enough for the Rangers, who were out shot 23-11 in the final forty minutes of regulation.

Moving past Anisimov’s actions from Thursday night, the Rangers defeated the Sabres on Saturday 4-1. As Brandon Dubinsky sat in the box for boarding, Callahan manufactured the game-winner shorthanded before the final minute of play in the second period. Three of the Rangers’ four goals on the day came from special teams, as Carl Hagelin scored his second of the season while killing a penalty in the second period and Marian Gaborik scored his 14th of the season on a late-game power play. Also scoring 3:02 into the third period, Hagelin had a two-goal game while both Michael Del Zotto and Steve Eminger had two-assist games. The win increased New York’s road winning streak to four games.

The following day saw the Rangers handle the Florida Panthers for a 6-1 win in New York. Anisimov scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play late in the first for the game-winning goal before Erik Gudbranson scored his first NHL goal to cut the Rangers’ lead to 2-1. Unfortunately for the Cats, New York scored four goals in a 12:03 span during the middle chapter to run away with the game. Derek Stepan racked up a pair of goals in the period for his sixth and seventh goals of the season. Adding an assist on Gaborik’s goal in the second, Stepan had three points in the period for a three-point game. Anisimov and Gaborik also provided an assist each for two-point games of their own as the Rangers won their first home game of December.

After putting a six-spot on Jose Theodore, the Rangers couldn’t figure out Richard Bachman as New York lost 1-0 to the visiting Dallas Stars last night. Trevor Daley scored the game’s only goal with 4:59 left in regulation as Bachman made 34 saves in his first NHL shutout. It was a painful loss for the entire Rangers’ roster, but two players who might feel the sting a little more are Lundqvist and Brad Richards. Saving 27 shots, Lundqvist walked away with the loss in regulation after posting a save percentage of .964, while Richards ended the game with a minus-1 rating after leading all Rangers with five shots. The loss was the Rangers’ third in their last five games marking the first time they’ve lost three times in a five-game span since their 2-2-1 record in the final five games of October.

Hitting the road for a three-game road trip this week, the Rangers start their week by playing the Blues tomorrow night. On Saturday, the Rangers play the Coyotes in Phoenix before concluding their week by playing the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 1-2-0. Dropping two of their three games this week, the Penguins are now 3-3-0 in the month of December. With their loss to the Red Wings last night, the Pens have dropped three of their last four home games dating back to their 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on November 23rd. Playing two Northeast Division opponents this weekend, the Pens conclude their week playing a strong Western Conference contender.

Falling short of the complete comeback, the Pens dropped a 3-2 decision to the Flyers on Thursday night. After giving Philly a 3-0 lead, a power-play goal from James Neal in the second period and Malkin’s 10th of the season in the third period made the final score respectable for Pittsburgh. Malkin was the only Pen with two points on the night as he had the primary assist on Neal’s goal. Steve Sullivan had a rough night as he had two penalties and a minus-1 rating. The loss is the Pens’ fifth straight game against the Flyers without a win in regulation.

Two days later, the Penguins beat a weaker Islanders’ squad 6-3 in New York. Pascal Dupuis had the game-winner late in the second period as six Penguins had two points on the night. Neal had a goal with 29 seconds left in the first period and a power-play tally 8:44 into the second period for a two-goal night. Sullivan erased his performance against the Flyers with a goal and an assist, cutting the Isles’ lead to one goal late in the first period and providing the secondary assist on Neal’s power-play goal. Malkin, Matt Niskanen, Chris Kunitz, and Tyler Kennedy all posted two-assist games as Pittsburgh improved to 4-0-0 against the Islanders this season.

Returning home, the Pens suffered a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings to conclude their week last night. Johan Franzen’s power-play goal 5:15 into the third was his sixth game-winner of the season, moving him into first place in the league for that category. After Malkin deposited his 11th of the season on the rush in the dying seconds of the first period, the Wings scored four unanswered to give the club a three-game winning streak out scoring their opposition 16-4 in the process. Daniel Cleary had two goals as he cashed in twice in the final 4:24 of the game for his sixth and seventh tallies of the season. Despite playing disciplined and only being called for two penalties all game, the Penguins’ penalty kill allowed a power-play goal that cost their team the game. The loss dropped the Penguins to 6-3-1 on the year against Western Conference teams.

The Pens’ only roster move this week was calling up Jason Williams from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Playing in his first two NHL games this season, Williams’ only noteworthy stat was a tripping minor in 22:14 TOI.

Pittsburgh has off today and tomorrow before they travel north to take on the Ottawa Senators Friday night. Coming back for a game the following day, the Pens host the Sabres on Saturday night. Pitt ends the week hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

New Jersey Devils: 3-1-0. Posting their best week since the first week of November, the Devils enjoyed three victories in four contests. It took two shootouts and they nearly blew a three-goal third period lead in their game Monday, but the Devils grabbed six points for the standings as they will take part in three difficult games this week.

After a hectic sixty-five minutes of action, the Devils needed a four-round shootout to secure the 4-3 home win over the Ottawa Senators. Adam Henrique had the decisive goal in the shootout, while Zach Parise and Patrik Elias added goals in earlier rounds to continue the game. Digging themselves into a 3-0 hole, shorthanded goals from Parise and Dainius Zubrus as well as even strength tallies from Mattias Tedenby and Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils a 4-3 lead late in the game. Jesse Winchester denied the Devils of a regulation victory as he scored his second goal of the season shorthanded with only five seconds left before the final buzzer. Martin Brodeur was pulled after a first period where he allowed two goals on nine shots. Johan Hedberg came in to make 18 saves in regulation and overtime while making two saves in the shootout.

Two days later, the Devils suffered their only loss of the week due to the Montreal Canadiens’ 2-1 victory in Jersey. Nick Palmieri was the only Devil to pot a goal as he scored his fourth of the season with 6:26 left in regulation. Tedenby had the primary assist on Palmieri’s goal, while Petr Sykora had the secondary assist on the Devils’ lone goal of the evening. Brodeur recorded the loss saving 22 of the Canadiens’ 24 shots on the night. Zubrus’ tripping minor late in the first period resulted in a Max Pacioretty power-play goal early in the second, while Erik Cole deposited the game-winner 5:17 into the final period. The loss dropped the Devils’ record to 3-3-0 against the Northeast Division this season.

Allowing the game’s final two goals, the Devils hung on for a 5-4 victory against the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Monday night. Providing the second game-deciding goal of the week, Henrique provided the game-winner on the penalty kill 13:23 into the middle stanza. Adding on two assists to his goal, Henrique was one of two Devils with three points as Parise also had a goal and two assists. Entering the final twenty minutes, the Devils had a 5-2 lead, which turned into a 5-4 lead after Steven Stamkos scored his second goal of the period and 18th of the season with just 34 seconds left. Johan Hedberg made 32 saves for the Devils as they improved to 2-0-0 against the Lightning this season.

To end their week, the Devils completed another comeback to win 3-2 in a shootout on the road against the Florida Panthers last night. After scoring the Devils’ first goal in regulation, Elias put home the deciding goal in the shootout for the Devils’ second shootout victory within the week. Elias netted his tenth goal of the season in the second period, while Parise netted his third of the week in the third period to push the game to overtime. Kovalchuk had two assists in a game where the Devils out shot Florida 21-7 in the final forty minutes of regulation, but were out shot 4-0 in overtime. Former Flyer Kris Versteeg was the only Panther to beat Brodeur, doing so twice as the aging netminder denied 24 of the Panthers’ 26 shots in regulation and overtime as well as the two attempts he faced in the shootout.

The Devils’ had the biggest roster change this week as they traded Rod Pelley, Mark Fraser, and a seventh-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Kurtis Foster and Timo Pielmeier.

In nine games with the Ducks this season, Foster posted a goal and an assist along with a minus-5 rating. In his first game with the Devils last night, he had four shots in 21:53 TOI.

Pielmeier has yet to play a game in the NHL this season as he has spent most of the season with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL (affiliate for the Senators and Ducks).

Earlier in the week, the Devils called up defenders Alexander Urbom and Matt Taormina from the Albany Devils.

Taormina played in three games this week producing an assist, a plus-2 rating, a shot, and two PIM.

Urbom played in two games posting a minus-1 rating, a shot, and seven PIM.

After missing four games, Cam Janssen returned to action last night against the Panthers. Janssen made his presence felt early as he dropped the gloves with Krystofer Barch just 3:13 into the game. He went minus-1 in five shifts spanning over 3:34 TOI.

The Devils start their week by hosting the Dallas Stars on Friday night. Less than 24 hours later, the Devils are taking on the Canadiens in Montreal Saturday night. To finish the week, the Devils host the Rangers for the first of their four remaining home games in 2011.

New York Islanders: 0-2-1. Although they lost each game this week, the Islanders managed to push their point-streak to six games before losing their last two contests by a combined score of 11-6. Having their streak snapped this week, things (as usual) look like they will be getting worse for the Islanders. The Isles will have to take on two of the Western Conference’s best teams this week, along with a confident bunch in Winnipeg as New York looks to put themselves somewhere else in the standings besides last.

Losing to the Blackhawks in a shootout last Friday, the Isles’ hosted Chicago this week as the visitors grabbed a 3-2 win in overtime. Patrick Sharp put home the winner as the Islanders pulled out two points in their two meetings against Chicago this season despite losing both affairs. Travis Hamonic posted his first goal of the season in the first period, while Michael Grabner potted his eighth of the season in the third period to tie the score at two goals apiece. As both teams registered 10 shots in the first period, the Islanders failed to record the win after out shooting the Blackhawks 23-18 for the final 41:34. Al Montoya made 25 saves in the loss, while Ray Emery made 31 saves in the win as three different Islanders blasted five or more shots at him. Brian Rolston led all Isles with seven shots while John Tavares had six and Matt Martin had five shots.

On Saturday, the Penguins visited Long Island to hand the Islanders a 6-3 loss. David Ullstrom and Milan Jurcina scored the first two goals of the game as both players registered their second goals of the season before the Pens tied the game at two for the start of the second period. Kyle Okposo produced his fourth goal of the season 2:54 into the middle stanza before Pitt scored the next four goals to earn the three-goal victory. With the secondary assist on Jurcina’s power-play goal, Okposo was the only Isle with two points for the game. Montoya had another 25-save loss, but this time he let in three more goals as the Islanders saw their point-streak snapped at six games with a record of 4-0-2. The loss dropped the Isles to 0-3-1 against the Pens this season and 2-5-2 against the rest of the Atlantic Division overall.

The Islanders ended their week with a 5-3 defeat last night to the Canadiens in Montreal. Petteri Nokelainen had his second goal of the season serve as Montreal’s game-winner in a third period where the Isles out shot the Habs 15-8. P.A. Parenteau had a two-assist night, while Matt Moulson notched his 15th of the season in the first period. Josh Bailey’s third and Tavares’ 10th in a span of 6:10 in the third period tied the game at three goals apiece before Nokelainen’s mark handed the game to Montreal. Montoya lost for a third time this week making 24 saves in the loss while Okposo, Grabner, Martin, and Steve Staios were all minus-2 for the game. The loss extends the Islanders’ losing streak to three games, the first time they’ve experienced a three-game losing streak since November 21-25.

The Islanders start their week’s work tomorrow night as they host the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars. In their following game, the Isles travel to Minnesota to take on the NHL-leading Wild. New York finishes their week with a trip to Winnipeg to take on the Jets, a team who has won five straight games at home.