Atlantic Watch: 2/15-2/21

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The Flyers won two of their three games this week, as the club is still trying to turn things around before the playoffs. Although they are 4-5-2 since the All-Star break, Philly won two of their last three games. Fortunately for the Flyers, their next three games are away from the Wells Fargo Center, a scenario they are 19-9-2 in this season.

In their first contest, the Flyers pounded the visiting Buffalo Sabres by a score of 7-2. After Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek tallied in the first for Buffalo, the Flyers rattled off seven straight goals. The performance of the night went to Claude Giroux, who had his first career five-assist game. Both Wayne Simmonds and Max Talbot had two-goal games, as Erik Gustafsson potted his first goal in the NHL late in the second period. Simmonds’ second goal of the game, and 20th of the season, was the game-winner in the Flyers third five-goal game win in 2011-2012. Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves on 29 shots, while the Flyers chased Jhonas Enroth from the net after three goals on 18 shots before they put four past Ryan Miller on 18 shots. The win was the Flyers’ fifth straight win against Buffalo dating back to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in last year’s playoffs.

Two days later, the Pittsburgh Penguins came to the Wells Fargo Center and handed the Flyers a 6-4 loss. Matt Cooke had a two-goal game for Pitt, with one goal being a shorthanded tally in the second period when the Flyers had a 5-on-3 advantage. Pascal Dupuis had the game-winner for the Pens with his 13th goal of the season 2:09 into the final period, as Jordan Staal had a goal and an assist in the Penguins’ first win against Philly this season. Jaromir Jagr had a pair of goals 18 seconds apart to give the Flyers an early 2-1 advantage, while Eric Wellwood scored his first goal in the NHL off of a goof by Deryk Engelland in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. Bryzgalov was pulled after he gave up his third goal on the Pens’ 13th shot and said to the media after the game that he is tired of being the “scapegoat”. Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t do much better in relieve, as he made 14 saves on 17 shots for the Flyers’ eighth loss to the Pens in the clubs’ last 10 meetings in Philly.

Last night, the Orange and Black concluded the week with a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory over the Jets in Winnipeg. After Simmonds tied the game with 9.7 seconds left off a great feed from James van Riemsdyk, Jagr deposited his 16th career overtime winner in the NHL to set the all-time record for the category. Simmonds, along with Giroux and Scott Hartnell, had a goal and an assist in the Flyers’ first win against the Jets this season, as he extended his scoring streak to three games. Ondrej Pavelec did all he could to keep the Jets in the game, as he made 50 saves in the loss and made possibly the save of the year on a Jakub Voracek shot in the third period. Bryzgalov looked shaky all night, but came up with a crucial save in overtime and totaled 22 saves in the win. The victory means the only team in the Eastern Conference the Flyers haven’t beaten this season is the Rangers, who they have one more meeting against on April 3rd.

The biggest roster news in Philly were the additions of defenders Niklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina.

Grossman, who came over from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2012 and a third-round draft pick in 2013, made his debut with Philly on Saturday. He was plus-1 with an assist in his first two games with the Flyers.

Kubina came over from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Jon Kalinski, a conditional second-round draft pick, and a fourth-round pick in 2013. He made his debut last night against the Jets, where he had an even rating and had three shots on net.

Due to the additions on the blue line, both Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon were shipped back to the Adirondack Phantoms.

Gustafsson was sent down earlier in the week and played in a pair of games for the Phantoms. He had a shot on net and racked up four PIMs.

Bourdon was sent down just a couple of days ago and has yet to play in a game for the Phantoms. He has three assists and 23 PIMs in 14 games with Adirondack this season.

van Riemsdyk returned to the Flyers’ roster after he had missed 15 games due to a concussion. He had two assists, 10 shots on net, and was a combined plus-1 against the Penguins and Jets.

In addition to JvR’s return to the line-up, a trio of players made their way back to the ice after missing a game. Voracek, who was not in the line-up for the loss to Detroit due to an upper body injury, returned for Philly’s game against the Sabres on Thursday. He had a goal, an assist, and four shots on net while going plus-1 in all three games.

Both Jagr (flu) and Andrej Meszaros (upper body injury) missed the Sabres’ game, but made their returns for Saturday’s loss to the Pens. Jagr had three goals and was minus-1 in the Flyers’ final two games of the week, while Meszaros had an assist and was plus-2.

Zac Rinaldo, who missed the first two games of the week due to a suspension, was plus-1 against the Jets last night.

Tom Sestito suffered a painful groin injury against the Sabres. After a scrap with Zack Kassian early in the second period, Sestito left immediately due to a torn groin muscle, which is expected to sideline him for 6-8 weeks.

The Flyers play the final three games in their four-game road trip in the upcoming week, starting with a visit to Rexall Place for a contest against the Edmonton Oilers. On Saturday, the Flyers travel to Calgary to take on the Flames before they conclude the week with a game in California against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

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New York Rangers: 1-2-0. Needing to edge out an overtime victory against the worst team in the league for their only win of the week, it’s safe to say the Rangers didn’t play that great over the last seven days. Even though they lost to a team in the midst of a horrible losing streak and were shut out against a division rival, the Rangers still find themselves at the top of the division and conference.

The Chicago Blackhawks, a team that was attempting to snap a nine-game losing streak, walked into Madison Square Garden Thursday night and left with a 4-2 win over the Rangers. The trio of Jonathan Toews, Nick Leddy, and Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead just four minutes into the game, as Marian Hossa’s 22nd goal of the season minutes later put the game away before the end of the first period. Marc Staal, with his first goal of the season in the second period, and Carl Hagelin scored for New York in the loss at home, a place the Rangers had won four out of their previous five games. Corey Crawford made 22 saves in the win, while Martin Biron suffered the loss after he allowed four goals on 22 shots. The loss dropped the Rangers to 2-1-0 against the Central Division in 2011-2012.

In their next game, the Rangers managed to clip the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 3-2 overtime win at home. After Rick Nash scored with 1:33 left in regulation to tie the game, Derek Stepan put home his 12th goal of the season 22 seconds into overtime off of assists from Michael Del Zotto and Marian Gaborik. Del Zotto, who had a pair of assists, had the only multi-point performance of the night, as Brad Richards scored in the first period and Artem Anisimov netted his 11th goal of the season in the second period to give New York a 2-1 advantage. Henrik Lundqvist recorded his 28th win of the season with 21 saves, as he extended his streak of allowing only two goals against or less to nine games. With their win over the Blue Jackets, the Rangers improved to 5-1 in overtime games and to 8-4-2 against the Western Conference.

The Rangers traveled to Pittsburgh last night and were shut out 2-0. Fleury recorded his third shutout of the season with a 27-save performance, as Evgeni Malkin had his 33rd goal and 40th assist in 2011-2012 for a two-point game. Ten minutes after Malkin’s game-winner, Steve Sullivan ended a nine-game goal drought with his 11th tally to give the Pens their ninth two-goal game victory on the year. The shutout was the seventh time the Rangers have been shut out this season, while it was the Penguins third shutout. The last time the Rangers won a two-goal game was on January 6th, which was a 3-1 win against the Pens.

Sidelined with a bone bruise on his left foot, Jeff Woywitka made his way back to the Rangers’ roster this week. He has yet to play for New York after he spent time conditioning with the Connecticut Whale (AHL affiliate).

After a game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night, the Rangers head home to host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Blueshirts conclude the week with another home game Monday against the New Jersey Devils.

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New Jersey Devils: 3-0-0. With the addition of their three wins this week, the Devils are currently on a four-game winning streak. The string of wins has helped Jersey gain control of the fourth spot in the East, even though they have the eighth-most regulation plus overtime wins in the conference. The Devils will be tested this week, as two of their three games come against two of the top three teams in the league.

On Friday, the Devils did what they do best, as they squeaked out a 3-2 shootout at home over the Anaheim Ducks. Patrik Elias, who was pointless and minus-1 in regulation, had the decisive goal in the shootout, as Martin Brodeur stoned Ryan Getzlaf in the final round to give Jersey the additional point. Adam Henrique’s 15th of the season and Alexei Ponikarovsky’s 10th gave the Devils a 2-0 lead in the second period before Corey Perry tallied minutes later and Sheldon Brookbank potted his first goal of the season in the final minutes to send the game to overtime. The shootout victory, Jersey’s 10th of the season, was the team’s 13th shootout this year, as both totals are the highest across the league.

On Sunday, the Devils hit the road and earned a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. David Clarkson’s goal in the final minute of the second period was the game-winner, as Brodeur racked up his third straight win with a 21-save effort. Matt Taormina recorded his first goal of the season halfway through the third period to give the Devils another two-goal lead after Max Pacioretty scored his 25th of the year for Montreal. Since the Canadiens’ lone goal in the game came on the power play, not a single Devil finished the game with a minus rating, while three of Montreal’s players (Tomas Plekanec, Rene Bourque, and Mathieu Darche) finished minus-3 in the Devils’ third win of the 2011-2012 series between the clubs. The win was New Jersey’s seventh in their last eight match-ups against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Devils needed more than regulation to win again last night, as they earned a 4-3 overtime win on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mark Fayne registered his first overtime goal in the NHL, as well as his first game-winning goal in the NHL, with a slap shot 1:18 into the extra frame for his fourth goal of the season. Petr Sykora had a goal and an assist while Henrique had a pair of assists in the win, as Kovalchuk extended his point streak to four games with the secondary assist on Fayne’s winner (3 goals and 4 assists during the streak). Brodeur made one more save than Jonas Gustavsson for his 22nd win of the season and to extend his winning streak to four games, as well as his eighth win in his last nine decisions. The win improved the Devils to 4-1 in overtime games this year.

Kurtis Foster is out with a back injury. He missed Sunday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens and last night’s game against the Leafs.

Peter Harrold was recalled from the Albany Devils this week. He had 15:27 TOI last night against the Leafs.

The Devils have off tonight and tomorrow before they host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night. After a matinee game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, New Jersey hits the road for a game against the Rangers on Monday.

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Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-2-0. Although they recorded a pair of wins against Atlantic Division opponents this week, the Pens suffered a pair of losses in their other games. With their win over the Flyers and their loss to the Sabres, the Penguins are 2-3-1 on the road in the month of February. Luckily for Pitt, their only games this week are at home, where they are 18-8-2 in 2011-2012.

To start the week, the Pens lost 2-1 to the visiting Ducks. After Staal deposited his 17th goal of the season in the first period, Perry scored in the final minute of the second period for Anaheim to tie the game at one. A little less than eight minutes into the third period, Teemu Selanne backhanded home his 19th tally of the season to end the Pens’ six-game winning streak at the CONSOL Energy Center. Dupuis had the lone assist on Staal’s tally for his 20th helper of the season, which tied him with his season total for 2009-2010 as well as 2010-2011. Jonas Hiller recorded his third straight win with a 25-save effort, while Fleury suffered his third loss in four decisions with 27 saves. The loss dropped the Pens to 8-2-3 against the Western Conference this season.

After their 6-4 win over the Flyers on Saturday, the Pens traveled to Buffalo and were handled by the Sabres for a 6-2 loss. Paul Gaustad scored in the second period to give the Sabres a 3-0 advantage, as his seventh goal of the season was the eventual game-winner. Derek Roy had two goals and an assist for his third three-point performance of the season, as Pominville had a goal and two assists for his fifth three-point game of the season in the Pens’ second four-goal game loss of the season (5-1 against Ottawa Senators on January 10th). Engelland ended a 21-game goalless drought with a tally in the second period, as Staal extended his goal streak to three games with a goal in the final 20 minutes. Brent Johnson was pulled after he allowed three goals on 12 shots, but Fleury did the same thing in relief, as Pitt dropped to 16-13-3 in road games this year.

The Penguins concluded the week with their 2-0 win over the Rangers last night in New York.

The biggest news out of Pitt this week was forward James Neal signing a six-year extension. The deal will keep Neal with the Pens through the 2017-2018 season.

Staal was fined $2,500 for a play against the Flyers on Saturday. The Pens’ forward boarded Braydon Coburn in the second period of their win over Philly.

As for interaction with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Pens brought up Eric Tangradi. He played against the Rangers last night and had 5:39 TOI.

On the injury front, Arron Asham returned to the line-up, while Tyler Kennedy was put on injured reserved.

After he missed 13 games due to a concussion, Asham had four PIMs and two shots on net in three games.

Kennedy suffered a high-ankle sprain on February 5th, a Pens’ 5-2 loss to the Devils.

Brooks Orpik missed last night’s game against the Rangers with an upper body injury. He isn’t expected to miss too much time.

The Penguins have a light workload this week, as have a pair of matinee games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

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New York Islanders: 1-3-0. After going 4-2-1 to start the month, the Islanders have won only one of their four games this week, as they continue to struggle in search of a playoff spot. Two of the Islanders’ losses this week were by four goals or more, as they are currently seven points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. If the Isles want to prove they deserve to be in the playoffs, they can win some games over the next few days, as New York takes on three teams currently in the playoff picture.

When Frans Nielsen scored 59 seconds into their game against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, it looked good for the Islanders. That is, until the Blues scored five unanswered goals for a 5-1 win in St. Louis. Kevin Shattenkirk’s power-play tally late in the first period was the eventual game-winner, as Alex Pietrangelo had three assists for his second three-point game in a three-game span. T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists in the Blues’ fifth win in a six-game stretch, as Brian Elliott won his fourth straight game with 26 saves. Mark Eaton was minus-3 for the first time this season, as nine Isles finished the game with a minus rating in the team’s fifth loss by a margin of four goals or more. Al Montoya lost his third straight decision with 21 saves and five goals against, the second time this season he allowed five goals against or more (six against the Pens on 12/10). The loss dropped the Islanders to 7-6-4 against the Western Conference in 2011-2012.

Two days later, New York redeemed themselves with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the team last in the Eastern Conference, at Nassau Coliseum. John Tavares, who had his seventh three-point game of the season with two goals and an assist, registered the game-winner 38 seconds into the final period with his 24th tally of 2011-2012. Kyle Okposo’s 13th gave the Isles an early 1-0 advantage, while Nielsen’s power-play goal in the second period gave New York a 3-2 advantage to round out the scoring for the Islanders. Both Mark Streit and P.A. Parenteau, who recorded his 11th multi-assist game of the year, had two-assist games in Kevin Poulin’s second win this season with a 33-save performance. The win was the Isles’ third home game in February where they earned at least one point.

On Monday, the Islanders received a 6-0 beating at the hands of the Ottawa Senators in New York. Erik Karlsson had the game-winner 68 seconds into the game, as the defenseman had his first four-point game in the NHL with a pair of goals and a pair of assists. After Jason Spezza’s tally 27 seconds after Karlsson’s goal, Poulin’s day was done, as he made three saves and allowed two goals in the game’s first 1:35. With the addition of a power-play goal in the third period, Spezza had a two-goal game, while Sergei Gonchar had his fourth two-assist game of the season to help the Sens extend their point streak to five games (4-0-1). Craig Anderson recorded his third shutout in 2011-2012 with a 28-save performance, as the Islanders were shut out for a league-worst 10th time. The loss is the second time this season the Islanders suffered a six-goal game loss, the first being another 6-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on November 19th.

Last night, the Islanders lost 2-1 in Buffalo to the Sabres. Vanek’s 22nd goal of the season was the game-winner, as his tally in the second period gave Buffalo a 2-0 advantage before Nielsen scored for a third time in a four-game span in the third period. Parenteau, who registered an assist with the primary assist on Nielsen’s tally, is currently fifth in the league with 42 helpers. Also assisting Nielsen was Poulin, who had his first point of the season in the Islanders’ first one-goal game loss in the month. For Buffalo, Miller made 30 saves and allowed one goal against for his ninth decision of the year where he allowed one goal against or less. The loss marked the fourth time in the Islanders’ last six contests where they scored a goal or less, as the team has lost all of those games. The loss is also the first time the Isles have suffered back-to-back losses since their home-and-home with the Maple Leafs on January 23rd and 24th.

The flu seems to have hit the Islanders, as both Steve Staios and Evgeni Nabokov have missed time due to the illness.

Staios, who missed Thursday’s game against the Blues, was plus-2 with two PIMs and three shots on net in the Isles’ three most recent games.

Nabokov didn’t play at all this week, which led to Poulin being recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL affiliate). Poulin was 1-2-0 in three games with eight goals against and a save percentage of .910.

Travis Hamonic, who hasn’t played since February 4th thanks to a Christian Ehrhoff slap shot to his face that broke his nose and caused other facial injuries, was placed on injured reserved earlier in the week.

After they host the Rangers on Friday, the Islanders hope to redeem themselves for Monday’s loss with a visit to Ottawa to face the Sens. New York concludes the week with a game in Washington against the Capitals.