Atlantic Watch: 1/11-1/17

The Flyers won two of their three games this week, as they finished the week by handling the free-falling Minnesota Wild. After Sergei Bobrovsky earned the start on Thursday night on Long Island, Ilya Bryzgalov got the call for the last two games of the week making 46 saves on 50 shots against. Philly looks forward to a difficult week, as two of their four games are against division leaders in the Eastern Conference.

The Orange and Black started off with a 3-2 in New York against the Islanders. Sean Couturier scored with 1:30 left in regulation to extend the Flyers’ lead to 3-1, but grabbed the game-winner when John Tavares scored in the final seconds to make it a one-goal game again.

The story of the night was Bobrovsky, who made 33 saves. Two of those were stellar stops on Michael Grabner, who was denied on a penalty shot in the first period and was robbed on a breakaway during the second period. Scott Hartnell potted his 19th goal of the season and Wayne Simmonds put home his 11th, as the Flyers were outshot 35-22 in the win. Both Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr registered an assist, as each player on the Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line ended their three-game streaks without a point. Andrew MacDonald was the only player with two points as he recorded an assist on each of the Islanders’ goals, while the Flyers earned their eighth straight win against the Islanders.

Two nights later in Nashville, the Flyers failed to play sweet music and fell 4-2 to the Predators. Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Mike Fisher each had a goal and an assist for the Preds, as Nashville earned their fourth straight win overall.

Pekka Rinne outplayed Bryzgalov as he made 15 more saves than Philly’s netminder. Couturier extended his goal streak to four games and was one of two Flyers, along with Simmonds, to have a goal and an assist in the loss. Jakub Voracek had a rough night with a minus-3 effort despite shooting a team-high five shots. The loss was the Flyers’ first to a Western Conference opponent since their 3-2 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on December 19. It was only the Flyers’ second regulation loss all season to a Western team, with the first being their 4-2 home defeat to the St. Louis Blues on October 22.

Last night, the Flyers displayed pure domination in a 5-1 beating of the Minnesota Wild in Philadelphia. Kimmo Timonen and Hartnell notched power-play goals, while Couturier extended his goal streak to five games with a shorthanded tally for the Flyers in the second period.

Matt Read and Jagr may have been the only Flyers with multi-point performances, as the pair had two-assist games, but 12 of Philly’s 18 skaters registered at least one point in the victory. Bryzgalov had a quiet night for his fifth start allowing just a single score, as the his only blemish was a weak shot along the boards from former Flyer Darroll Powe in the second period.

Josh Harding allowed five goals for the first time this season, as the goaltender was only able to stop 29 of the Flyers’ 34 shots on net. Marek Zidlicky went minus-3 on the night, while four other Wild players were minus-2 in the team’s third straight loss. Cal Clutterbuck had an extremely poor performance, as the forward had eight PIMs in the team’s seventh straight game without a regulation win.

The biggest news off the ice this week related to James van Riemsdyk. In addition to being diagnosed with a concussion that will sideline him indefinitely, JvR was the topic of discussion in a trade rumor with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The rumor had JvR heading to Toronto, while Luke Schenn would end up in Philly with his brother.

Aside from the news off the ice related to JvR, the Flyers called up Erik Gustafsson from Adirondack and left Matt Walker in the AHL after clearing waivers last week.

Appearing in his first two games with the Flyers since early November, Gustafsson saw 28:52 TOI with no points and no shots on net.

As for Walker, he had two assists, three shots on net, and two PIMs while posting a plus-1 rating overall in the Phantoms’ trio of games this week.

Zac Rinaldo missed Tuesday’s game due to a blow to the head he received during Monday’s practice. He is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Blair Betts, who has been on injured reserved since early October with a knee injury, has been skating for about a week. He said his conditioning has improved, but his knee still feels the same.

With injuries and player movement aside, the Flyers face a difficult week ahead starting with the easiest game coming at home tomorrow against the Islanders. On Saturday, the Flyers travel to New Jersey to take on the Devils in a matinee game. The following day, the Orange and Black return home to host the Boston Bruins at 3pm before traveling to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

New York Rangers: 2-2-0. Shutouts were the theme of the week for the New York Rangers, as the Rangers won half of their three-goal games this week. The Rangers’ 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday was the only game for the Rangers this week where the losing team scored a goal. As for the next seven days, the Blueshirts have three games with most of the focus aimed towards their meeting with the Bruins on Saturday.

On Thursday night, the Ottawa Senators entered Madison Square Garden and left with a 3-0 win over the Rangers. Craig Anderson had a 34-save shutout for his first shutout of the season, as Henrik Lundqvist made 13 less saves than Anderson in the loss. Jason Spezza registered the game-winner midway through the second period for his first goal in his third two-goal game of the season. Milan Michalek potted his 23rd goal of the season just before the six-minute mark of the third period, as Erik Karlsson had a two-assist night for the Sens. The win was the Sens’ second win in New York this season and the fourth time the Rangers have been shut out this season.

Two days later, the Rangers were involved in another 3-0 game, but this time they were on the right side of a match-up against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Mike Rupp had his second game-winner of the season with his fourth tally of the season 3:35 into the second period, as Martin Biron earned his second shutout of the season with a 20-save effort.

Not only did he earn the shutout, Biron registered his third assist of the season with the secondary helper on Derek Stepan’s third period goal. Stepan was the only player with a multi-point performance, as he had the primary assist on Rupp’s tally and netted his 10th of the season early in the third period. Brian Boyle put home his third goal of the season with 3:42 left in the second period, as Ryan McDonagh finished plus-3 in the Rangers’ third road win in the month of January.

The next day, the Blueshirts traveled to Montreal and were handed a 4-1 loss by the Canadiens. Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist, while Dave Desharnais had a goal and two assists to provide Montreal with two three-point performances as the Canadiens scored four goals for a second straight game against the Rangers. John Mitchell had the Rangers’ lone goal in the game, as his third of the season tied the game at a goal apiece 12:49 into the game.

Lundqvist had his third game of the season where he allowed four goals, the first of which where he didn’t face at least 30 shots overall. In Montreal’s net, Peter Budaj had his best game of the season, as he made 28 saves for his second win of the season. Kris Newbury and Wojtek Wolski were both minus-3 for the Blueshirts, while Michael Del Zotto, Stu Bickel, and Rupp were each minus-2 in the Rangers’ loss.

Lundqvist and company redeemed themselves last night with a 3-0 win over the visiting Predators. Dan Girardi scored in the first period, while Mitchell scored in the second and Ryan Callahan recorded the empty-net tally in the final minute of the game. Mitchell’s goal gave him his first two-game goal streak since December of 2010. Marian Gaborik had the primary assist on Girardi’s goal, while Carl Hagelin had the secondary helper to round out the five Rangers with a point in the game.

Lundqvist denied 27 Nashville shots for his fourth shutout of the season, his second against a Western Conference team (first was October 18 against the Vancouver Canucks). Anders Lindback suffered his fourth straight loss, as the Preds were shut out for the second time this season. The win marked the Rangers’ first regulation win at home in 2012.

In injury news surronding the Rangers, Jeff Woywitka was moved to injured reserve with a bone bruise on his foot, while both Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko missed games this week due to minor injuries.

Dubinsky missed the first three games this week with a sore right shoulder, but returned to go plus-1 in 15:06 TOI against the Preds last night.

Fedotenko missed Sunday’s game against the Canadiens with back spasms.

Filling in for Fedotenko against the Canadiens was Newbury, who was minus-3 in 6:19 TOI. It was the center’s worst game with the Rangers this season out of the seven he has played with New York.

The Rangers start this week by hosting the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night before they travel to Boston to take on the Bruins in a matinee on Saturday. New York finishes the week by hosting the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.

New Jersey Devils: 3-0-0. The Devils went undefeated this week, as they won a pair of one-goal games before beating the Jets last night by a score of 5-1. New Jersey is enjoying their first winning streak of three games or more since they had a four-game winning streak from December 12th to the 17th. The Devils continue their six-game homestand with three games this week in Jersey.

The Devils opened the week with a 2-1 overtime winner against the Oilers in Edmonton last Wednesday night. Zach Parise finally notched his first game-winner of the season with a tally 1:06 into overtime on a power play for his 15th marker of the season.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored Jersey’s goal in regulation with a short-handed tally 8:35 into the middle stanza, while Ales Hemsky potted his fourth of the season on a third period power play in a game that saw no even strength goals. Kovalchuk had the secondary assist on Parise’s winner for the game’s only multi-point performance, as Kovalchuk recorded his fourth straight two-point game. Johan Hedberg posted 22 saves in the win, as he posted his fourth decision on the season with one goal or less against. The win improved the Devils’ record to 6-5-1 on the season against Western Conference teams.

On Saturday, the Devils struck for a pair of goals in the third period for a 2-1 win on the road against the Jets. Trailing 1-0 in the third period due to an Andrew Ladd goal late in the first period, Kurtis Foster and Patrik Elias scored 2:58 apart to give the Devils their first lead with 7:17 left in the game. Martin Brodeur made 22 saves in the win, as the Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves in the loss as the Devils held the advantage in the lowly shot count 25-23.

Dainius Zubrus had the primary assist on Foster’s goal, while Adam Larsson had the primary assist and Petr Sykora had the secondary assist on Parise’s to round out the point production for New Jersey in the win. The victory gave the Devils a 3-1-0 record on their four-game road trip.

To finish their week, the Devils beat the Jets for a second straight game, but this time it was by a score of 5-1 in New Jersey. Sykora had the game-winner 1:32 into the second period, as the Devils scored three times in the middle stanza to enter the third period up 4-0.

Elias had a goal and two assists, while Kovalchuk had two goals for the Devils, as both Sykora and David Clarkson each had a goal and an assist. Tobias Enstrom had the Jets’ lone goal 8:18 into the third period, as Brodeur had his second straight one-goal game and his third one-goal game in his last four decisions. It was a rough game for most Jets, as 13 of Winnipeg’s 18 skaters finished the game minus-1 or worse. The win improved the Devils’ record to 5-2-1 for the month of January.

New Jersey was excellent on this week, but it didn’t come with the help of Travis Zajac. The center was placed on injured reserved due to an Achilles tendon tear earlier in the week.

In addition to Zajac, Adam Henrique missed games this week due to a strained groin. After playing against Edmonton, Henrique missed the pair of games against Winnipeg and is day-to-day.

As for the Devils’ rotation of players with the Albany Devils (AHL affiliate), New Jersey assigned Nick Palmieri north and recalled both Brad Mills and Jacob Josefson.

Palmieri played in the Devils’ win against the Phantoms on Monday registering an assist and a shot in a plus-1 effort.

Mills was minus-1 in 11:07 TOI in the Devils’ win yesterday against the Jets.

Josefson won six of his 11 faceoffs in 13:40 TOI yesterday against the Jets.

The Devils take on the Bruins tomorrow night in Jersey before they host the Flyers Saturday. New Jersey concludes the week by hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 3-1-0.  After being shut out by the Washington Capitals last Wednesday, the Penguins rattled off three straight wins for their first wins in 2012. The Penguins managed to score just three goals last week, but came back and put home 12 this week for a bunch of wins. Pittsburgh endures another four-game workload this week, as they face two of the best teams in the NHL in the process.

Last Wednesday, the Pens were blanked 1-0 by the Capitals in Washington. Jason Chimera had the game’s lone goal 15:25 into the first period for his 14th tally of the season. Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward assisted on Chimera’s goal, as Tomas Vokoun posted his second shutout of the season with a 30-save performance. Evgeni Malkin had six shots on net, while James Neal and Arron Asham each had four shots on net in a game where Pitt out shot Washington 30-21. Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 stops as he recorded the loss despite only allowing one goal in the game.

The Penguins’ power-play unit never saw the ice, as the both the game’s power plays went in favor of the Caps. The loss highlighted a six-game losing streak for the Pens, who were shut out for the first time all season.

The Pens traveled to Florida two days later and handed the Panthers a 4-1 defeat at home. Malkin netted the game-winner in the final minute of the second period for his 18th goal of the season to complete a two-goal period for the Pens. Neal had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, while Chris Kunitz had two assists to serve as the only players with more than a point in the game. Michal Repik had the Panthers’ only goal 6:55 into the third period assisted by Jason Garrison and Krys Barch on the play. Fleury made 25 saves to record his first win since his decision on December 27 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Asham fought Barch in the first period, while Eric Tangradi fought Erik Gudbranson in the second period as the Pens won their first road game since their 4-1 win in Winnipeg on December 23.

Staying in Florida, the Penguins grabbed a 6-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. After both Neal and Richard Park scored a goal for the Pens in the first period, Pitt scored four of the seven goals scored in the hectic third period for the three-goal victory. Malkin scored the game-winner 7:38 into the third period, then scored his second of the game 1:49 later to give the Pens a two-goal lead with 10:33 left before recording the hat-trick with the empty-netter in the final minute. With the addition of two assists, Malkin had his second five-point game of the season.

Malkin, Neal, and Kunitz each had six shots on net, as the Pens out shot the Lightning 44-20 in a game that saw Vincent Lecavalier receive a 10-minute misconduct late in the third period. The win was the Pens last game in Florida this season, as they were 2-2-0 against the Panthers and Lightning on the road.

Last night, the Penguins concluded their week with a 2-1 shootout win over the visiting Hurricanes. Neal had the decisive goal in the third round of the shootout, as Malkin scored in the first round and Fleury made two saves in the shootout. Malkin scored the Pens’ only goal in regulation for his fifth goal and seventh point during Pittsburgh’s current three-game winning streak. Matt Niskanen ended a six-game pointless streak, while Paul Martin recorded his second straight game with an assist, as both players assisted Malkin on his 22nd goal of the season.

The Pens heavily outshot their opponent yet again, as they forced Cam Ward to make 40 saves, while the Canes made Fleury stop 25 shots. Pascal Dupuis led the team with seven shots on net, while Malkin and Neal registered six shots on net for a second straight game. The win gave the Penguins their first winning streak since they won four straight in December before they lost six straight games to start 2012.

The most negative news of the week for the Pens, in regards to injuries, was the fact Simon Despres was placed on injured reserved with a lower body injury.

In addition to Despres’ injury, it seems as though Pittsburgh is experiencing an illness that is spreading throughout the locker room. After Martin missed a game earlier in the week, Asham missed last night’s game against the Hurricanes with an illness as well.

On the positive side, Dustin Jeffrey returned to the Penguins’ line-up this week. Taking part in all four games, Jeffrey was minus-1 with two PIMs and five shots on net.

Aside from injuries and illnesses, the Pens assigned two players to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL affiliate) this week.

After being waived earlier in the week, Steve MacIntyre was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He didn’t take part in any games for the club.

Colin McDonald was also assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earlier in the week. Playing in two games, McDonald was minus-2 with an assist and three shots on net.

After taking a trip to Madison Square Garden tomorrow night to take on the Rangers, the Pens return home to take on the Canadiens Friday night. Two days later, Pitt hosts the Caps for a matinee match-up. On Tuesday, the Penguins travel to St. Louis to take on a Blues team that’s rising up the standings.

New York Islanders: 2-2-0. After a dominant win over the Detroit Red Wings last week, the Islanders picked up a pair of wins this week winning once at home and once on the road. The Islanders finished their four-game week with their first shutout of the season against Alex Ovechkin and the Caps. Looking ahead, the Isles have another week featuring four games, three of which are against teams currently outside the playoff picture.

On Thursday, the Islanders suffered a 3-2 to the Flyers in New York. Kyle Okposo scored his 10th of the season 22 seconds into the third period, while Tavares put home his 16th of the season with only 16 seconds left for the Islanders’ only goals on the night as they out shot Philly by 13 in the game. Matt Moulson had the primary assist on Okposo’s goal and P.A. Parenteau had the primary assist on Tavares’ goal, as MacDonald was the only Isle with a multi-point performance. Both Mark Streit and Milan Jurcina finished the game minus-2, while Matt Martin and Grabner finished minus-1 in the Islanders’ second one-goal loss of the season to the Flyers’ at home. Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves in the loss for his third decision of the season where he made less than 20 saves (1-2-0 in those games).

Two days later, the Islanders notched a 4-2 win against the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Grabner deposited the game-winner with 3:03 left in regulation and scored the empty-netter with 30 seconds left for a two-goal night. Moulson had a goal and an assist, while Tavares and Parenteau had two-assist games in the Islanders’ second win of the season against the Sabres. Tavares was plus-4, while Travis Hamonic was plus-3 as five Islanders finished the game plus-2 or better. Steve Staios and Mark Eaton were the only Isles in the game without a shot, as New York out shot Buffalo 40-25. The victory gave the Islanders three wins in their last four home games.

On Monday, the Predators came to New York and handed the Isles a 3-1 loss. Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk, and David Legwand scored a goal each in the first period to give Nashville a 3-0 lead 11:37 after the opening faceoff. Tavares scored his 16th goal of the season with less than four minutes left in the third period to give him his third goal in four games. Tavares and Moulson were the only Islanders with a plus-1 rating in the game, as four players for New York finished the game minus-2. After being out shot 12-6 in the first period, the Islanders out shot the Preds 31-20 in the final forty minutes of the game to own the shot advantage 37-32 for the game. The loss dropped the Islanders to 6-5-4 against the Western Conference this season.

Last night, the Islanders traveled to Washington and beat the usually home-strong Caps 3-0. Tavares netted the game-winner on the power play 12:05 into the first period. Tavares’ goal extended his point streak to 10 games, as the forward has six goals and 11 assists during the streak. Parenteau scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season for his first two-goal game of the season, as Frans Nielsen had a two-assist game to end a four-game pointless streak with his fourth multi-point game of the year. Moulson also had a two-assist game to extend his point streak to five games, as the forward has registered a point in eight of his last nine games.

Nabokov recorded the 17-save shutout for his first shutout with the Islanders and his first shutout since his 28-save blanking of the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of the 2010 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

As for roster moves, Kevin Poulin was assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL affiliate). After allowing three goals in the loss to the Predators on Monday night, Poulin has yet to play a game with the Sound Tigers.

After a visit to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers tomorrow night, the Isles return home to host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. On Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders take part in a home-and-home with the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing in Toronto on Monday and New York on Tuesday.