Atlantic Watch: 1/25-1/31

In their only game this week, the Flyers took part in yet another shootout. Unfortunately for Philly, it was unable to pull out a win. The Orange and Black did, however, keep up with the Rangers, who also lost in a shootout this week. The Flyers look forward to a difficult week ahead, as three of their four opponents are currently in the playoff picture.

For a third time this season, the Flyers lost to the Winnipeg Jets. This time, however, the game was very defensive, as the Jets picked up a 2-1 shootout win in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

Chris Thorburn had his first goal of the season in the second period to tie the game at one for Winnipeg, before Bryan Little scored the lone goal in the shootout for the additional point. Ondrej Pavelec had 27 saves in the win, as the Jets ended a three-game losing streak. Brayden Schenn recorded the Flyers’ lone goal in the first period, as he muscled home his fourth goal of the season with 4:49 left before the first intermission. Ilya Bryzgalov turned in a 23-save performance, as he allowed only one goal against for the third time in his last four starts. The loss was Bryzgalov’s first loss this season where he allowed one goal against or less. Both Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier had five shots on net in a loss that extended the Flyers’ point streak to four games (2-0-2). The Flyers’ power play converted on their only chance of the game, but the loss dropped them to 7-4-2 in the month of January.

As for the Flyers’ injuries, four key players returned to practice this week.

Jaromir Jagr (groin) returned to practice on Monday and to the line-up last night after missing two games. He had an assist and two shots on net, while posting a minus-1 in the loss.

Zac Rinaldo (upper body) returned to practice this week and is hopeful to return soon.

Both Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk returned to practice on Monday, but left prior to the more physical drills, as each player is expected to miss more time due to concussions.

Earlier in the week, the Flyers had five different players participate in the 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend. Philly’s Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, and Giroux took part in both the game and the skills competition, while Matt Read and Couturier both took part in just the skills competition.

Timonen was the only Flyer on Team Chara Sunday, as the defenseman had a quiet performance with one shot on net and a minus-1 rating. In the skills competition, Timonen completed the passing accuracy in Relay 3 of the Skills Challenge Relay, which Team Alfredsson won 3-0 to take a 9-6 lead overall.

Hartnell, on the other hand, may have been one of the most talked about players of the weekend as a member of Team Alfredsson. In addition to his two assists in the game, Hartnell raised $4,000 for charity through his Hartnell Down campaign, as his Team Alfredsson teammates helped him to fall down four times during the game on Sunday. Before the game, Hartnell promised to donate $1,000 for each time he fell to the ice.  Hartnell was also one of three one-timers, along with Keith Yandle and John Tavares, for Team Alfredsson in Relay 4 of the Skills Challenge Relay.

Giroux, also a member of Team Alfredsson, was the only Flyer to score in the All-Star game, as he connected on a goof by Tim Thomas in the third period. Giroux was also the busiest member of the Flyers at the skills competition, where he took part in three events. His first event was the Accuracy Shooting, where he passed to Steven Stamkos, who performed terribly with a time of 44.684 seconds. After completing the stick handling portion of Relay 4 in the Skills Challenge Relay, Giroux finished the night with a failed attempt in elimination round one of the Elimination Shoot Out thanks to a Thomas save.

Read impressed the Ottawa fans with his performance in the Accuracy Shooting event at the skills competition for Team Alfredsson. Although Jamie Benn beat him in both rounds, Read had the second best times in both the Qualifying Round, with 14.011 seconds, and the Final Round, with 16.361 seconds.

Couturier earned nine  percent of the fans’ votes for his attempts in the Breakaway Challenge. On his first attempt, Couturier juggled the puck and kicked it with his right skate before missing his attempt the whack the puck out of mid air and past Carey Price. His second attempt was successful, as he moved the puck in between his legs and stopped it at the top of the crease before he slammed home a spin-o-rama. On his last attempt, Couturier was denied by Price, as the Canadiens’ netminder had his back turned to the Flyers’ rookie during the entire breakaway.

Due to the All-Star break, the Flyers assigned three players to Adirondack before calling them up immediately following the pause in the schedule. The young trio of Tom Sestito, Ben Holmstrom, and Harry Zolnierczyk were the players moved around during the break.

After scoring a goal and going minus-6 in three games with the Phantoms, Sestito fought Thorburn in the Flyers’ game last night.

After he posted two assists and 13 shots on net in three games with the Phantoms, Holmstrom had one shot on net for Philly in 7:29 last night against the Jets.

Zolnierczyk didn’t play last night for the Flyers. The forward had a goal on 12 shots with the Phantoms during the NHL All-Star Break.

The Flyers have four games this week, three of which are at the Wells Fargo Center. After hosting the Nashville Predators on Thursday night and the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon, the Flyers hit the road for their final game at Madison Square Garden this season with a matinee game on Sunday. To finish the week, the Flyers return home to host the New York Islanders.

New York Rangers: 0-0-1. The Rangers may have lost their only game this week, but they managed to gain a point in the process. Their shootout loss last night to the Devils dropped their record to 9-2-1 against the Atlantic Division this season. With three games in the conference this week, the Rangers look to gain crucial points to stay at the top of the division.

The Rangers lost their fourth shootout of the season last night, as the Blueshirts lost 4-3 at the Prudential Center to the New Jersey Devils. New York blew three different leads in the game, as they led 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2. Anton Stralman gave New York their first lead with his second goal of the season with 33 seconds left in the first period. Brian Boyle gave the Rangers their second lead with his fourth of the season 2:37 into the final period. Michael Del Zotto gave New York their third lead of the day with his sixth goal of the season in the final four minutes of regulation. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Martin Biron allowed two third period goals, as well as the only goal in the shootout to earn only a point in the road loss. Dan Girardi, who was the only Ranger to finish minus-1 in the loss, had a season-high 33:46 TOI. The overtime loss gave the Blueshirts a record of 8-3-1 for the month of January.

New York sent four players to the All-Star Game, as Marian Gaborik, Henrik Lundqvist, and Girardi took part in the game, while Carl Hagelin took part in only the skills competition.

Gaborik had a hat-trick and an assist in the All-Star Game for Team Chara to earn the honor of being the game’s MVP. The forward also poked fun at Artem Anisimov by “sniping” Lundqvist after a goal in the first period. In the skills competition, Gaborik was Team Chara’s target shooter in Relay 1 before he had his shot denied by Brian Elliott in elimination round one of the Elimination Shoot Out.

Lundqvist made nine saves in the first period for Team Alfredsson, as two of his three goals against came off the stick of Gaborik. In the skills competition, Lundqvist helped Team Alfredsson win the Elimination Shoot Out, as he allowed only three goals against and denied all three attempts he saw in elimination round two.

Girardi had the primary assist on Jason Spezza’s goal in the first period, which was Team Alfredsson’s first goal in the game, but he finished minus-1 in a losing effort. Girardi also had the least impact of any of the Rangers in the skills competition, as the defender’s only participation was, ironically, passing the puck to Spezza in Accuracy Shooting.

Hagelin, however, most likely had the biggest impact out of any of the Rangers in the skills competition. The Rangers’ rookie beat out Ottawa’s Colin Greening for the best time in the Fastest Skater event, with 13.218 seconds in the final to win the event for Team Alfredsson. Later on, Hagelin had his shot denied by Price in elimination round one of the Elimination Shoot Out.

The Rangers’ first game of the week is tonight, as they travel north to take on the Buffalo Sabres. New York then heads home to start their three-game home stand with a game against the Flyers on Sunday afternoon before closing out the week with a match-up against the Devils on Tuesday night.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 1-0-0. Entering the All-Star Break on a seven-game winning streak, the Pens kept their streak intact with a win in their only game this week. With a shootout win this week, the Pens have won five of their eight games in the winning streak after 60 minutes, four of which needed a shootout.

Down by three goals with only 13:23 left, the Penguins rattled off three straight goals and edged the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout for a 5-4 win last night on the road. Evgeni Malkin had the game-tying goal with seven seconds left and the only goal in the shootout to help the Penguins extend their winning streak, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves in the win. Matt Cooke registered his eighth goal of the season in the first period to cut the Maple Leafs’ lead to 2-1 before the hosts scored two goals in a 19-second span in the third period to increase their lead to 4-1. A goal from Steve Sullivan and Joe Vitale set the stage for Malkin’s late-game heroics, who put home his 27th goal of the season to tie the game at four. Pitt provided a well-rounded offense, as only one Pen (Richard Park) failed to record a single shot on net in the win that gave the Penguins a record of 8-4-0 in January.

Pittsburgh assigned one player to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this week and recalled another player. Eric Tangradi spent time in the AHL this week, while Colin McDonald returned to the Penguins’ roster after the AHL All-Star game.

Tangradi had a goal and three assists in three games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this week, as the Philly native went plus-1 overall.

McDonald had a shot on net in 9:33 TOI in last night’s shootout win against Toronto, which was his third game of the season with Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh had three of its players participate in the All-Star Game, as Malkin, James Neal, and Kris Letang made the trip to Ottawa.

Malkin was the only member on Team Chara, as he had two points in the win. One of his points was a goal on a nifty shot that went top shelf on Lundqvist. He also performed the stick handling portion of Team Chara’s Relay 3 in the Skills Challenge Relay before he beat Lundqvist in elimination round one of the Elimination Shoot Out. The Pens’ forward was eliminated in elimination round two.

Neal, who replaced Alex Ovechkin for the weekend, had an assist for Team Alfredsson with his helper on Jason Pominville’s goal in the second period. The former Dallas Star didn’t make too much noise at the skills competition, as he was Team Alfredsson’s target shooter in Relay 2 of the Skills Challenge Relay before his shot was denied by Thomas in elimination round one of the Elimination Shoot Out.

Letang also had an assist for Team Alfredsson, but he also finished the game minus-4. The Pens’ defenseman was the busiest Pitt player in the skills competition, as he took part in three events. His first event was Event 1, Fastest Skater, where he beat out his counterpart Brian Campbell with a time of 14.501 seconds while both players skated backwards. After he did the one-timing in Relay 2 of the Skills Challenge Relay, Letang beat Jimmy Howard in elimination round one of the Elimination Shoot Out before being stopped by Thomas in the next round.

The Penguins endure a four-game road trip this week, which starts with the second game of their home-and-home against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. After tonight’s game, the Penguins take part in two matinee games this week, as they visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday and the Devils on Sunday. To conclude the week, the Penguins take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

New Jersey Devils: 1-0-0. The Devils snapped a three-game losing streak this week, as they won their second game in their current homestand. New Jersey is 2-2-1 on their homestand, which conlcudes tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadiens. Following tomorrow’s game, the Devils take on three Atlantic Division rivals as well as another team fighting to be in the playoff picture.

Erasing three one-goal deficits, including one in the final minute of regulation, the Devils beat the visiting New York Rangers 4-3 in a shootout last night. Ilya Kovalchuk had the only goal in the shootout, as David Clarkson’s 17th goal of the season tied the game at three with 48 seconds left in regulation. Zach Parise potted his 16th of the season in the second period to tie the game at one, while Kovalchuk deposited his 20th of the season on the power play in the third period to tie the game at two. Martin Brodeur made 23 saves on 26 Rangers’ shots to earn his 15th win of the season, as he allowed three goals against for the third time in his last four decisions. Clarkson was the only Devil with a multi-point performance, as he had the secondary assist on Kovalchuk’s goal in a win that made Jersey’s record 6-4-2 in January.

In Jersey’s roster moves this week, the Devils sent three players down to the Albany Devils, but recalled two of them immediately following the NHL All-Star break.

The one player New Jersey left in the AHL was Peter Harrold. In a pair of games for Albany this week, the defenseman had a goal on six shots on net and an assist, while going plus-2 overall.

Matt Taormina and Jacob Josefson were assigned to Albany and recalled to New Jersey this week.

Taormina had a goal, an assist, and six shots on net in his two games with Albany. Although he is currently with New Jersey, he didn’t play last night against the Rangers.

Josefson went plus-1 with a goal and an assist with Albany before he had a shot on net in 14:03 TOI last night with Jersey.

Also added to the Devils’ roster this week was Steve Bernier. After he signed a two-way contract, Bernier was minus-1 with a shot on net last night against the Rangers.

Andy Greene, who missed 22 games with an ankle injury, returned to the line-up last night against the Rangers. Greene had an assist, two PIMs, and two shots on net with a plus-1 rating.

Although New Jersey had Greene return, they learned both Henrik Tallinder and Adam Henrique will miss time.

With a blood clot in his leg, Tallinder was placed on injured reserved.

Henrique is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Not a single New Jersey Devil took part in the All-Star Weekend. Both Henrique and Adam Larsson were selected to participate in the skills competition, but neither participated.

To start next week, the Devils play the Canadiens tomorrow night. After a trip to Philly to take on the Flyers Saturday afternoon, the Devils return home to host the Penguins on Sunday afternoon. New Jersey concludes the week with a match-up against the Rangers on Tuesday night.

New York Islanders: 1-0-0. The Islanders won their only game of the week for a record of 7-5-1 in the month of January. The win was the Islanders’ fourth win, and their fifth game with a point, in their last six games. The Isles hope their recent success continues this week with a pair of road games and one game at Nassau Coliseum.

They needed two power-play goals and two empty-net goals, but the Islanders left Carolina with a 5-2 win over the Hurricanes last night. Tavares had two goals and two assists for a four-point night, as his first goal of the night was the game-winner that came 41 seconds after Tim Brent’s power-play goal tied the game at two. The performance was Tavares’ third four-point game of the season and gives him points in 14 of his last 15 games. Matt Moulson had a goal and two assists, while both Kyle Okposo and P.A. Parenteau had a goal and an assist in the Isles’ third win of the season over the Canes. Mark Streit had a pair of assists in a game where the Islanders’ penalty kill successfully handled both of the Hurricanes’ power-play chances over the 60 minutes. Kevin Poulin made 21 saves for his first win with the Islanders this season in his third start. This was the Islanders’ seventh win of the season where they won by a margin of three goals or more.

In addition to Poulin, Rhett Rakhshani was recalled by the Islanders from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In his first game with the Isles this season, Rakhshani had two shots on net in 12:47 TOI.

Marty Reasoner, who has been out for New York’s last 11 games, was finally placed on injured reserved. The forward broke his thumb after blocking a shot in the second period of the Isles’ loss to the Anaheim Ducks on January 6.

Tavares was the lone representative for the Islanders at the All-Star Game. He had a goal and an assist for Team Alfredsson in the loss.

Although he had a two-point game in Ottawa, Tavares may have been more noticed at the skills competition, where he took part in three events. Along with being one of three one-timers for Team Alfredsson in Relay 4 of the Skills Challenge Relay, Tavares was one of two skaters (Stamkos, who made all three of his attempts to win the event) to advance to elimination round three of the Elimination Shoot. He also received eight percent of the votes in the Breakaway Challenge.

The Isles start the week in Ottawa with a game against the Senators on Friday night. The next day the Islanders head home to take on the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night before hitting the road again to close out the week against the Flyers in Philly on Tuesday night.