Atlantic Watch: 1/4-1/10

The Flyers won three of their four games this week, as all three wins came in one-goal games. In the Flyers’ last three games, they have received no help from the line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Jaromir Jagr as all three players are pointless since the Flyers’ win on Thursday. The line will look to find their groove again as the Flyers complete their four-game road trip this week before returning home for a game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. 

In their first match-up in Philadelphia since Game six of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers beat the visiting Blackhawks by a score of 5-4. Cashing in on a power play late in the game, James van Riemsdyk netted his 11th of the season for the game-winner with just under 33 seconds left in regulation. JVR scored in the second period as well for a two-goal night while Hartnell, with a goal and an assist, and Giroux, with two assists, gave Philly three multi-point performances on the evening. Jakub Voracek registered his sixth of the season in the final minute of the first period, while Harry Zolnierczyk potted his third goal of the season (and first in Philly) in the second period for the Flyers’ first five-goal game since their 5-1 win in Washington on December 13th. Rookies Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw scored for the Hawks in the first two periods, while Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane scored 25 seconds apart late in the third period to tie the game at four. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 30 shots in the victory as the Flyers earned their second straight win against the Blackhawks.

On Saturday, Danny Briere posted a hat-trick in the Flyers 3-2 win over the visiting Ottawa Senators. In addition to his fifth career hat-trick, Briere notched his first fighting major since November 20th, 2009, with a scrap against Sens’ forward Kyle Turris in the second period. Voracek was the only other Flyer with a multi-point performance on the day as he assisted Briere on his first period and overtime goals. Wayne Simmonds, Andrej Meszaros, and Kimmo Timonen each recorded an assist in the Flyers’ first overtime win since their 5-4 victory in Buffalo on December 7th. Bryzgalov denied 35 shots in the contest to earn consecutive wins for the first time since he racked in six straight wins during the beginning of December, as the Philly improved to 2-0-0 against Ottawa on the season.

The following day the Flyers let a two-goal lead slip away for a 6-4 loss on the road against the Senators. A Filip Kuba shot from the point gave the Sens a 5-4 lead with only 1:11 left in the third period before Nick Foligno potted the empty-netter 26 seconds later to cap off a four-goal third period for Ottawa. Matt Read had a two-point game as he netted a power-play goal late in the second period for his 13th goal of the season and assisted on Sean Couturier’s sixth marker of the season in the first period. Couturier’s goal came 28 seconds after Marc-Andre Bourdon notched his second goal of the season and gave Philly a 3-2 lead for the start of the second period. Meszaros put home his sixth goal early in the first period as he took part in his 500th NHL game. Craig Anderson stopped one more shot than Bryzgalov for the 33-save win, as the Flyers dropped their eighth decision in Ottawa out of their last nine trips north (1-6-2).

To conclude the week, the Flyers beat the Hurricanes by a score of 2-1 in Carolina last night. Couturier scored for a second straight game, as he potted the game-winner early in the third period. Brayden Schenn tallied the other goal for Philly in the second period, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves in the win. Simmonds and Zolnierczyk recorded assists on the night to round out all the Flyers who posted a point in the game. Voracek didn’t find the back of the net for Philly as he posted a season-high eight shots on net. For the Canes, Jerome Samson registered his first goal in the NHL in his first game with the club this season, as Cam Ward made 35 saves in the loss. Not a single Hurricane finished the game with a plus-rating as half of the team finished with an even-rating and the other half finished with a negative-rating. The contest was the last time these two teams will meet this season, as Philly went 3-1-0 in the clubs’ four meetings.

Jagr missed the Blackhawks’ game and the Senators’ game on Saturday, but returned to the line-up for the Flyers’ final two games of the week. He was pointless with three shots and two PIMs as he skated to a minus-1 rating.

In roster moves, Matt Walker was waived by the Flyers on Friday. Walker cleared waivers and returned to the Flyers’ roster.

To start the week, the Flyers travel to Long Island to take on the New York Islanders for the clubs’ second meeting of the season on Thursday. Two days later, the Orange and Black travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. To conclude the week, the Flyers face the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night in Philly.

New York Rangers: 3-0-0. The Rangers continue to show why they are at the top of the division as they won all three of their games this week. The trio of victories increased the Rangers’ current winning streak to five games, as two of those wins came after regulation. With a busy week ahead, New York will look to extend their streak against three Canadian opponents and a Western Conference foe.

To start the week, the Rangers beat the visiting Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime. Marian Gaborik netted his 23rd of the season 3:29 into overtime, as the Blueshirts out shot Florida 3-0 in overtime and 41-21 overall. Martin Biron earned the victory as he stopped 19 shots for his first win in 2012. Anton Stralman registered his first goal as a Ranger late in the first period, while Ryan Callahan put home his 14th of the season early in the third period to give New York a brief lead late in the game. Stralman was the only Ranger to finish plus-1, while Stu Bickel and Artem Anisimov finished minus-1 as every other skater for New York posted an even-rating in the one-goal victory. The Blueshirts played a very disciplined game as Ruslan Fedotenko was the only Ranger to put his team on the penalty kill with a boarding minor in the second period. In the clubs’ final meeting this season, the Rangers improved their record to 3-1-0 on the season against the Cats earning two of those wins in their current winning streak.

The following day, the Rangers made a trip to Pittsburgh to hand the injury-riddled Penguins a 3-1 loss. After Ben Lovejoy’s first goal of the season 5:43 into the game, the Blueshirts scored the game’s final three goals for the road win. Brandon Dubinsky knocked home the game-winner with his fifth of the season shorthanded in the second period. Brad Richards netted his 15th of the season in the first period, while Derek Stepan put home his ninth goal of the season 1:20 into the final period for the Rangers’ third straight three-goal game. Dubinsky was the only player with two points on the night, as he assisted on Richards’ goal, while both Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh finished the game plus-3. Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves, 27 of which came in the final 40 minutes, in his sixth straight win. The win was the Rangers’ third road win during their current winning streak.

Last night, New York concluded their week with a 2-1 shootout vicory at home over the Phoenix Coyotes. In their second win of the season against the Coyotes, the Rangers needed a six-round shootout, where Stepan put home the decisive goal in the final round. Gaborik redeemed himself for a missed penalty shot in overtime, due to a spectacular save from Mike Smith, by tying the shootout at one goal a piece after Radim Vrbata put the Yotes ahead the shot before. Fedotenko netted his sixth goal of the season 2:27 into the third period only to see Vrbata tie the game 9:10 later with his 20th of the season. Brian Boyle had the primary assist on Fedotenko’s goal for his first point during the winning streak, as Carl Hagelin picked up his first point in four games with the secondary assist on the Rangers’ lone goal. Lundqvist made 18 saves for the win, but it was Smith who made it a game with 31 saves in the contest, one of which came on Gaborik’s penalty shot in overtime. The shootout win was New York’s first since their 2-1 victory at home against the Anaheim Ducks on November 3rd.

The Blueshirts didn’t make any roster moves, but they were fortunate enough to have Wojtek Wolski return from his groin injury. He didn’t play in any of the games for New York this week.

In other news surronding the team, coach John Tortorella was fined $30,000 for his remarks after the Rangers’ win in The Winter Classic. Tortorella said he wasn’t sure if the refs were trying to push the game to overtime with a couple of questionable calls that went against the Rangers in the third period.

In a four-game week, the Rangers host the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night before hitting the road to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. The Rangers return home for a match-up against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

New Jersey Devils: 2-2-0. After being demolished by the Boston Bruins last Wednesday, the Devils won two straight games before losing to the Calgary Flames last night. The Devils have won four out of their last five at home and are 2-2-1 in their first five games of 2012. The Devils look to keep moving up the standings with a game in Edmonton tonight and a home-and-home later in the week.

Last Wednesday, the Devils suffered a 6-1 beating at home to the Bruins. David Clarkson scored the game’s first goal with a power-play tally 4:24 into the first for his 15th goal of the season, but then the Bruins started to dominate. Zach Parise had an assist on Clarkson’s tally for the Devils’ second player with a point for the game, while Boston had 12 players with a point. Patrice Bergeron had a two-goal night, while David Krejci netted his eighth goal of the season in the third period and assisted on Nathan Horton’s power-play goal in the first period. Milan Lucic and Dennis Seidenberg each had two-assist games, as the Devils out shot the Bruins 31-27 in the loss. Both Adam Larsson and Henrik Tallinder were minus-4 at the end of the game, while Tim Sestito went minus-3 in a game where seven Devils were finished minus-2 or worse. Martin Brodeur made 21 saves in the loss, as the Devils lost to the Bruins for a second time this season.

Two days later, the Devils beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 in Jersey. Ilya Kovalchuk’s 13th of the season 11:40 into the final period was the game-winner, as he and Parise added on empty-net goals in the final minute of the game. Patrik Elias had a goal and two assists in his first three-point game of the season. Adam Henrique joined Parise as the only players with a goal and an assist in the game as he scored his 11th goal of the season in the first period and assisted on Kovalchuk’s shorthanded empty-netter. Mikael Samuelsson and Krystofer Barch were the only Panthers to beat Johan Hedberg on the night, as the Devils’ goalie stopped 22 shots for his fourth win in four games. The win was the Devils’ first home win in 2012.

The Devils traveled to Pittsburgh and handed the Penguins a 3-1 loss the next day to earn points in consecutive games. Kovalchuk put home his 15th goal of the season 11:23 into the second period for his third game-winning goal of the season. For a second straight game Henrique had a goal and an assist as he scored a shorthanded tally minutes before he assisted on Kovalchuk’s game-winner. Dainius Zubrus got the insurance goal 1:28 into the final period with his 12th goal of the season, as the Devils enjoyed their second win of the season against the Pens. Brodeur made 41 saves in his first 40-save victory of the season. The win was the Devils’ first on the road since their 5-3 win in Montreal against the Canadiens on December17th.

Unfortunately for Brodeur, and the Devils, he wouldn’t keep carry any momentum into last night’s game as he flopped in a 6-3 loss on the road to the Calgary Flames. The aging goaltender allowed two goals on the first five shots he saw in the game and was pulled after 7:32 of work. Hedberg didn’t do much better as he allowed four goals on nine shots to give Calgary six goals on 14 shots. T.J. Brodie potted the game-winner with his second goal of the season late in the first period to cap a 4-0 opening period for the Flames. Curtis Glencross had a goal and three assists, while Jarome Iginla had a goal and two assists for a three-point night as five Flames finished the game plus-2 or better. Henrique recorded his third straight game with a goal and an assist, while Kovalchuk also had a goal and an assist for his third straight two-point game. Elias scored on the power play early in the third period for his 15th goal of the season, as the Devils’ record against Western Conference teams dropped to 5-5-1 on the season.

Unlike the Penguins, the Devils received good news related to several injured players this week. In addition to the returns of Anton Volchenkov and Jacob Josefson, New Jersey expects Travis Zajac to return from his achilles’ injury within the next few games.

Volchenkov missed four games with a lower body injury and returned for last night’s loss in Calgary. He was minus-1 with two shots on net.

Josefson missed 36 games with a broken clavicle before returning to the roster and being assigned to the Albany Devils (Devils’ AHL affiliate) for conditioning. He has yet to play a game for Albany this season.

Also assigned to Albany was Sestito, who cleared waivers earlier in the week. He didn’t play in any games for Albany this week.

As for players moving from Albany to New Jersey, both Nick Palmieri and Steven Zalewski were recalled by the Devils this week.

Taking part in his 24th and 25th games with New Jersey this season, Palmieri had one shot on net in 14:20 TOI as he played against the Penguins and Flames this week.

Zalewski made his NHL debut against the Panthers on Friday, playing with the Devils in their games against the Penguins and Flames as well. Zalewski was minus-1 with four shots on net.

Jersey starts their week with a game against the Oilers in Edmonton tonight. The Devils then take part in a home-and-home with the Winnipeg Jets playing in Winnipeg on Saturday and in New Jersey on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 0-3-0. The Pens not only had the worst week points-wise out of all the teams in the division, they also added on to their laundry list of injury problems with Jordan Staal’s sprained left MCL. In the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Penguins have been out scored 18-6 since their last win and have yet to win in 2012. Pittsburgh hopes for something positive to happen this week as they hit the road to play three Southeast Division opponents.

In their first game of 2012, the Penguins lost 3-1 to the Rangers in Pittsburgh. Lovejoy was the only Pen to score on the night as he converted on one of his three shots in the game. Craig Adams earned the primary assist, while Joe Vitale recorded the secondary assist to serve as the other Pens who posted points in the loss. Marc-Andre Fleury let his team down making 18 saves in a game where the Pens out shot the Rangers 38-21. The loss marked the fourth straight game Fleury made less than 20 saves (2-3-0). James Neal and Pascal Dupuis both registered six shots on net in a frustrating loss for the Pens, who lost their second game of the season to the Rangers. To add on to the loss, Staal left the game in the final minutes of the third period after a knee-to-knee collision with Mike Rupp, who earned a kneeing minor on the play. The contest was the Pens’ third straight game that resulted in a two-goal loss.

The following day the Pens suffered a 3-1 loss to the visiting New Jersey Devils. Eerily similar to the loss the day before, the Penguins scored the game’s first goal, but then watched the Devils net the final three goals in a contest where the Pens out shot Jersey 42-27. Evgeni Malkin ended a six-game goalless drought with his 16th of the season 4:48 into the first period, as Paul Martin and Chris Kunitz provided the assists. Malkin also led the Pens with six shots on Brodeur, who made 41 saves in the win. Unfortunately for Pitt, they could only leave the first period with a 1-0 lead after they out shot New Jersey 12-3. No Penguin finished the game with a plus-rating, while Dupuis, Adams, Matt Niskanen, and Steve Sullivan all finished minus-1 in the loss. Adding on to the injury problems for Pitt was a shot that hit Neal in the foot and broke his foot. Luckily for the Pens, Neal returned in Tuesday’s game against Ottawa. The loss was the Penguins’ fourth straight against an opponent from the Atlantic Division.

Last night, Pitt lost their fifth straight game as they dropped a 5-1 decision to the visiting Ottawa Senators. Malkin potted his 17th goal of the season, but it came midway through the second period when Pittsburgh was already down 4-0. Malkin was the only Pen to record a point in the loss, while the Sens received four multi-point performances led by a three-assist night from Colin Greening. Milan Michalek registered his 21st and 22nd goals of the season, while Bobby Butler put home the game-winner with his fifth goal of the season 14:03 into the game. Of Butler’s five goals on the season, three of them have been game-winners. Only six Pitt skaters finished the game with an even rating, as 12 Pens finished the game minus-1 or worse. Brent Johnson was pulled after Jason Spezza’s goal 1:15 into the second period, which was the third Ottawa goal on their eighth shot of the game. Fleury came in for ”relief” making 13 saves on 15 shots over the final two periods. The loss gave the Pens a record of 0-3-0 for their home stand.

In addition to the injuries of Staal and Neal, Paul Martin has been battling to stay in the line-up.

After he missed six games with a leg injury, Martin took part in the losses to the Rangers and Devils before missing the Sens game with an illness. Martin had an assist and three shots on net, while going minus-1 in his pair of games this week.

Arron Asham and Richard Park, unlike Martin, have been able to return from injuries and stay in the line-up.

Missing the week’s first two games due to a lower body injury, Asham returned to the line-up last night providing two PIMs in 11:26 TOI.

Park, who missed 10 games with a lower body injury, played in all three games this week for the Pens. The veteran forward had two PIMs and three shots with a minus-1 rating overall.

Robert Bortuzzo also returned for the Penguins after missing nine games due to a concussion. Unfortunately for Bortuzzo, he was sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Penguins’ AHL affiliate). Playing in two games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Bortuzzo had two shots on net and registered seven PIMs.

As for players being recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this week, Eric Tangradi, Simon Despres, and Colin McDonald all saw action for Pittsburgh this week.

Both Tangradi and Despres played against the Senators. Tangradi was minus-2 with three shots on net, while Despres had an uneventful night in 3:00 TOI.

McDonald made his Pittsburgh Penguins’ debut this week as he played in his first pair of NHL games since he played two with the Edmonton Oilers during the 2009-2010 regular season. In his games against the Rangers and Devils, McDonald was plus-1 with three shots on net.

The Pens hope to snap their losing streak with a visit to Washington to take on the Capitals tonight. On Friday, the Pens look to beat the Florida Panthers down south before taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa on Sunday.

New York Islanders: 1-2-0. After a pair of multi-goal losses, the Islanders took out their frustration on the Detroit Red Wings with their third 5-1 win of the season last night. The win was the Islanders’ third win against a Western Conference team out of their last four wins overall. The Isles look to carry their momentum from last night’s win into a week featuring three home games and a trip to Washington.

The Islanders ended their three-game winning streak with a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in California on Friday. Ryan Getzlaf put home the game-winner 12:25 into the final period for his seventh of the season, as the Ducks converted on three of their eight shots in the third period for a 3-1 third period. Bobby Ryan had two goals, while Corey Perry had two assists to serve as the only two players with two-point games for either team. Matt Martin scored his fifth goal of the season with 3:56 left in the second period, while Kyle Okposo netted his eighth of the season early in the third period to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Josh Bailey had a frustrating game has he was held without a point and joined Mark Eaton as the only Islanders to go minus-2 despite putting four shots on net. Evgeni Nabokov was dealt the loss as he stopped 16 of the Ducks’ 20 shots. The loss ended Nabokov’s three-game winning streak and dropped the Islanders record to 1-3-1 against the Pacific Division on the season.

The next day, the Islanders traveled to Phoenix and suffered a 5-1 loss to the Coyotes. Shane Doan recorded his first career hat-trick as his second goal of the night was the game-winner at the 1:39 mark of the second period. In addition to Doan’s 10th, 11th, and 12th goals of the season, Taylor Pyatt and Oliver Ekman-Larsson both scored in the second period to round out the goals for Phoenix. Frans Nielsen scored exactly halfway through the first period on the power play for his seventh goal of the season. Nielsen’s goal tied the game at one, but the Coyotes scored the game’s next four goals for the win. Seventeen of the eighteen Islanders’ skaters finished the game with a minus-rating, six of which were minus-2 or worse. Smith earned the win with 31 saves, while Nabokov was handed the loss with 20 saves to conclude the Isles’ 1-2-0 road trip.

Returning to Long Island, the Islanders dealt a 5-1 beating to the Detroit Red Wings last night. John Tavares registered his third game-winning goal of the season with his 14th tally of the season 7:31 into the second period, as he was one of three Isles on the night with a three-point game. Matt Moulson had his second multi-goal performance of the season and assisted on Okposo’s second period goal, while Mark Streit had his first three-point game of the season with three assists. Michael Grabner notched his 11th goal of the season late in the second period before Justin Abdelkader scored early in the third period to make the score 4-1. Nabokov made 23 saves in win for his third one-goal game of the season. The win improved the Isles to 5-0-1 against the Red Wings since the lockout.

As for injuries related to the Islanders, Mike Mottau and Marty Reasoner are expected to miss time, while Jay Pandolfo returned to action.

Mottau was placed on injured reserved earlier in the week, while Reasoner is out indefinitely with a broken right thumb he suffered in the Isles’ loss to the Ducks.

Playing for the first time since late November, Pandolfo played against the Coyotes and Red Wings this week. The veteran forward went minus-2 with two shots on net.

Another player who won’t be playing for the Islanders anytime soon is defenseman Anton Klementyev. He was suspended indefinitely by the Islanders for not showing up for his assignment with the Idaho Steelheads (the Dallas Stars’ ECHL affiliate).

Two players were recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders’ AHL affiliate) this week, while Anders Nilsson was assigned to the club.

Both Dylan Reese and Kevin Poulin were recalled from Bridgeport this week, but neither player saw the ice. With the Sound Tigers, Nilsson has yet to play a game with the Sound Tigers.

To start the Islanders’ week, they host the Flyers tomorrow night. On Saturday, the Isles host the Buffalo Sabres before they host the Nashville Predators on Monday in a matinee game. To conclude their week, New York hits the road to face the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.