Atlantic Watch: 2/29-3/6

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For the first time in awhile, the Flyers put together a string of wins this week, as they won all three of their contests. Ilya Bryzgalov played a big part in the team’s success, as he won all three games with a save percentage of .948. With a four-game schedule ahead for the next seven days, hopefully Bryzgalov can keep Philly’s winning ways intact against some strong opponents.

In their first game of the week, the Flyers beat the visiting New York Islanders by a score of 6-3. It looked like Bryzgalov was back to his usual ways, as Josh Bailey gave the Isles a 1-0 lead just 1:35 into the contest. Fortunately for his teammates, this wasn’t the case, as Philly potted five of the game’s next six goals to take a commanding 5-2 lead early in the third period. Kimmo Timonen recorded his 500th point in the NHL with the secondary assist on Jaromir Jagr’s second period goal, while Andrej Meszaros recorded his 200th point in the NHL with one goal and two assists in the Flyers’ third win of the season over their divisional rival. Matt Read also had a big night, as the rookie forward had two goals and an assist for his third three-point game in the NHL. Claude Giroux registered three assists in the Flyers’ first game back from a four-game road trip. Unfortunately for Philly, James van Riemsdyk left with a broken foot after he blocked a Milan Jurcina shot in the first period. For New York, Bailey had his third two-goal game in the NHL, while Mark Streit had a two-assist game and Casey Cizikas registered his first two points in the NHL with a couple of helpers. Bryzgalov earned the win with 21 saves, while Evgeni Nabokov recorded the loss with 24 stops for the Flyers’ second win in their last three home games.

Three days later, the Broad Street Bullies traveled to Washington and left with a beautiful 1-0 win over the Capitals. All Bryzgalov needed was an Eric Wellwood goal off a Pavel Kubina shot-pass in the second period, as the Flyers’ goalie made 34 stops for his third shutout of the season. For the second time this season, the first being their 5-4 win at home over the Chicago Blackhawks on January 5th, Philly avoided a single shorthanded situation the entire game, as the only Flyer to enter the box was Scott Hartnell for his fight with Troy Brouwer in the first period. Matt Carle was the only other Flyer to register a point in the win, as he had the secondary assist on Wellwood’s first game-winning goal in the NHL. The win was the Flyers’ third shutout of the season, as Bryzgalov became the first Flyer since Ray Emery in 2009-2010 to record three shutouts during the regular season. Jagr had a team-high four shots on net, but Alex Ovechkin had a game-high seven shots, as Washington failed to score for a second straight game and for a fifth time in 2011-2012. The win gave the Flyers back-to-back wins since they beat the Carolina Hurricanes on January 10th and the Islanders on the 12th.

Last night, the Flyers beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at the Wells Fargo Center on an evening where they retired Mark Howe’s number two. After another early goal against, this time from Henrik Zetterberg, Bryzgalov settled down, as his teammates gave him a 3-1 lead to work with. Although he allowed a third period goal to Johan Franzen to make it a 3-2 game, Bryzgalov was able to produce a season-high 37 saves to give the Flyers their first winning streak of at least three games since their seven-game streak to start December. Giroux also had a great game for Philly, as he undressed Joey MacDonald on a first period breakaway goal and created the rebound for Max Talbot’s shorthanded mark in the second period. Jakub Voracek also scored for the Flyers, but left the game in the second period after he was leveled with a clean check from Niklas Kronwall. The win was the Flyers’ seventh straight win against the Red Wings in Philly, as the Orange and Black became the eighth team in the league to break the 80-point plateau this season.

The most notable injuries of the week relate to JvR, Timonen, and Meszaros.

JvR is expected to miss four to six weeks due to a broken bone in his left foot.

Both Timonen and Meszaros missed the games against the Caps and Wings due to lower body injuries. Both defenseman are out indefinitely.

Jagr, who left last night’s game against the Red Wings, is day-to-day with a hip injury.

Voracek is believed to be okay after he left last night’s game and received stitches to his mouth.

Due to the injuries, both Wellwood and Erik Gustafsson were called up from Adirondack.

In addition to his game-winning goal on Sunday, Wellwood was minus-1 with two shots on net in last night’s game.

Gustafsson was plus-1 with two shots on net in the Flyers’ two most recent games.

Tomorrow, the Flyers host the Florida Panthers before they hit the road to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Philly returns home on Tuesday to take on the Devils to conclude the week.

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New York Rangers: 2-1-1. The Rangers were able to earn five out of a possible six points in their first three games of the week before they were blown out by the Devils last night at The Prudential Center. The fact New York lost half of their games this week doesn’t matter much, as their lead in the Eastern Conference sits at eight points over the fourth place Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers have two home games and two road games over the next few days to try and extend that lead even further over the rest of the conference.

Brandon Prust’s fourth goal in 2011-2012 came early in the third period Thursday night and turned out to be the game-winner, as the Rangers beat the Hurricanes in Carolina 3-2. The goal was Prust’s second game-winner of the season and was made possible due to Jay Harrison’s tally coming with just 40 seconds left in regulation to make it a one-goal game. After a Jeff Skinner power-play goal in the first minute of the second period, tallies from Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, as Martin Biron made one less save than Cam Ward for the win. Derek Stepan recorded his sixth two-assist game of the season, while the Rangers earned their 16th one-goal game victory in 2011-2012. Biron snapped a four-game stretch where he allowed three goals against or more, while the Rangers won their first game on the road since their 3-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on February 21.

The next day, New York blew a two-goal lead to drop a 4-3 overtime decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida. Ryan Malone potted his 11th of the season 1:58 into overtime to drop the Rangers’ record against the Lightning to 2-0-2. After Tom Pyatt, Teddy Purcell, and Steven Stamkos scored three straight goals for Tampa Bay to turn a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead, Brandon Dubinsky ended a 12-game goal drought with 3:27 left to give New York a point. Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals in a game for the first time since January 15th, as he played in 14 games in between the four-goal losses and posted a record of 11-3-0. The loss was the seventh time all season the Rangers lost in overtime or a shootout and the first time they lost in overtime since their season-opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Prust, Brian Boyle, and Ruslan Fedotenko all finished the game minus-3, as the Rangers were out shot 31-19 in the loss.

On Sunday, the Rangers beat the Boston Bruins in a matinee game at Madison Square Garden by a score of 4-3. After David Krejci tied the game at three late in the third period, Stepan scored just 39 seconds later to restore the Rangers’ lead and to help New York gain a pair of points over the team that’s second in the Eastern Conference. The malicious game featured three fights and concluded with a scrum after Milan Lucic hit Ryan McDonagh from behind while the final seconds of the game ticked off the clock. Fedotenko and Carl Hagelin scored early to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead by the 6:15 mark of the first period, while Gaborik’s 32nd of the season 3:14 into the third period gave New York their second lead of the game. Michael Del Zotto registered his sixth two-assist game in 2011-2012, while Brad Richards had a pair of assists to give hime five helpers in a five-game span. The win was the Rangers’ third of the season against the Bruins with the clubs’ final meeting coming on April 1st. The victory also concluded the team’s six-game point streak in which they posted a record of 4-0-2.

New York concluded the week with a 4-1 defeat in New Jersey against the Devils. Stepan extended his point streak to four games with the equalizing goal in the second period before the Devils potted three goals in the third period for New Jersey’s third win against New York in 2011-2012. Lundqvist stopped 25 of the Devils’ 28 shots to allow three goals against or more for a third straight game, the first time he has allowed three goals againt or more for three straight games all season long. After Dubinsky fought Ryan Carter, who potted his third of the season in the final stanza, John Scott recorded his first fight as a Ranger against Cam Janssen. For Jersey, both Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias had a goal and an assist in the team’s second win in their last three games. Martin Brodeur stopped 25 shots, as he allowed one goal against or less for a third time in his last four starts. The game was the Rangers’ seventh three-goal game loss of the year and the Devils’ eighth three-goal game win, as New Jersey snapped a two-game skid against teams in the division.

Ryan Callahan and Del Zotto both returned from injuries this week, as the pair missed a total of four games combined.

Callahan, who missed three games due to a bruised foot, was minus-2 with three shots on net last night against the Devils.

Del Zotto, who missed the overtime loss to the Lightning with a bruised hip, had a pair of assists in New York’s two most recent games.

The Rangers conclude their three-game road trip with a game against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. New York returns home and starts a seven-game homestand with contests against the Islanders on Sunday and the Hurricanes on Tuesday.

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Pittsburgh Penguins: 3-0-0. With a trio of wins this week, the Penguins are currently in the midst of a six-game winning streak. It’s the club’s second winning streak of at least six games this season, as they recorded an eight-game winning streak in January after they dropped six straight. Pitt doesn’t leave the CONSOL Energy Center until next week, as they conclude their homestand with another three-game workload.

On Wednesday, the Pens needed a four-round shootout to beat the Dallas Stars in Texas by a score of 4-3. Pascal Dupuis potted his attempt in the final round before Michael Ryder failed to extend the contest for the Penguins’ eighth shootout win of 2011-2012. Steve Sullivan recorded his 12th goal of the season in the first period, while Craig Adams ended a 35-game goal drought with a tally in the third period. Chris Kunitz registered his 18th of the season 39 seconds after Adams’ goal, as Marc-Andre Fleury recorded 30 saves for the win. Evgeni Malkin failed to extend his goal streak to four games, but he did keep his point streak intact with the secondary assist on Kunitz’s third period tally. Kunitz was the only Pen to finish plus-2, while Richard Park was the only skater for Pitt to finish minus-2 in the club’s first shootout win since they beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 on January 31. The win gave the Pens a record of 8-4-1 for the month of February.

For their first game in March, the Pens dominated the Avalanche in Colorado for a 5-1 win. Sullivan registered a goal and an assist to conclude his seven-game point streak, a stretch of peformances where he posted three goals and eight assists overall. Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik each had two-assist games, while Arron Asham ended a 20-game goal drought and Deryk Engelland recorded his first game-winning goal in the NHL. Fleury made 35 stops for his third straight game with 30 saves or more, as he allowed only one goal against for a second time in a three-game span. The win was the Pens’ fourth win of the season where they won by a margin of four goals or more, as they improved to 5-0-1 against the Northwest Division.

Pitt concluded the week with a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday to start their four-game homestand. Zbynek Michalek and Kunitz scored three minutes apart in the opening period, while Ray Whitney potted his 21st of the season in the third period to improve the Pens’ record to 15-9-5 in one-goal games in 2011-2012. James Neal produced a game-high seven shots on net, while Fleury stopped 36 for his sixth straight win. Out shot 37-28, Pittsburgh was out shot for a third straight game and for the fourth time in their last five games. Malkin extended his point streak to eight games, as he had the primary helper on Kunitz’s winner. Malkin, who leads the league with 81 points, has six goals and six assists during the point streak. With the victory, the Pens extended their winning streak to six games out scoring the opposition 24-8 in the process.

The biggest news of the week related to the Pens is the fact Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact. He is symptom-free and expected to resume playing at some point in the 2011-2012 season.

In terms of line-up movement, Tyler Kennedy returned to the line-up and Kris Letang being diagnosed with a concussion.

Kennedy, who missed 11 games with an ankle injury, had three shots on net in 14:20 TOI against the Coyotes.

Letang suffered a concussion after he was hit in the head by Eric Nystrom in the Pens’ win over the Stars on Wednesday. The defenseman is day-to-day.

Dustin Jeffrey (Illness) and Engelland (lower body injury) are day-to-day as well, while Asham returned from injury. After he missed the win over the Blue Jackets due to an upper body injury, Asham played in all three games this week posting a goal and five PIMs.

Recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Brian Strait played in his second game this season for the Pens and his fifth game in the NHL overall on Monday. The defenseman recorded a shot on net in 12:19 TOI.

Pittsburgh also signed forward Adam Payerl to a three-year entry-level contract. Payerl, a current Belleville Bull in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), will start his contract in the 2012-2013 season.

The Penguins finish their homestand this week with games against the Maple Leafs tonight, Florida Panthers on Friday night, and the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

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New Jersey Devils: 2-1-1. After they lost three straight games, the Devils came out and earned points in three of their four games this week. Still having a chance to grab fourth place in the East for the playoffs, the Devils will need to notch some wins during their pair of home-and-homes over the next few days.

Krejci scored the game-tying and overtime goals for two of the goals in his hat-trick, as the forward led the Bruins to a 4-3 win over the visiting Devils on Thursday. Down 2-0 at the start of the second period, the Devils scored three straight to enter the third period up by one. Tallies from Zach Parise, Elias, and David Clarkson gave New Jersey their only lead of the game, as Brodeur allowed four goals on 25 shots in the loss. Kovalchuk was one of four Devils to finish the game minus-2 and one of three Devils to finish the game with four shots on net, as his lone point in the game was the primary assist on Parise’s goal. The loss was Jersey’s second loss of the season in overtime with their first being a 3-2 decision to the Ottawa Senators on January 2. The defeat was also their fourth loss to the Bruins this year, as Boston out scored New Jersey 18-8 in the season series.

The Devils redeemed themselves with a 5-0 win the next day in Washington over the Capitals. Parise recorded his second hat-trick in the NHL to give hime 27 goals on the season, as the Devils won by a margin of five goals or more for the first time in 2011-2012. Johan Hedberg made 23 stops for his third shutout of the season, as Jersey earned their first win by a multi-goal margin since they beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on February 19. Adam Henrique and Clarkson each had a pair of assists in the win, while Elias scored his second shorthanded goal in 2011-2012 and the Devils league-leading 14th. The win let New Jersey win their season series against the Caps with a record of 3-1-0.

On Sunday, the Devils lost for a fifth time in a six-game span with a 1-0 loss to the Islanders in New York. In his second NHL start ever, Anders Nilsson made 24 saves for the shutout. All Nilsson needed was Kyle Okposo’s 15th goal of the season early in the second period, as the Islanders recorded their third shutout of the year and New Jersey was shut out for the third time in 2011-2012. Cizikas was the only other player to register a point in the contest, as he recorded his third assist in the NHL on Okposo’s first game-winner this season. Brodeur allowed one goal against and lost for the second time in three starts, as the Devils’ record dropped to 1-2-0 against the Islanders in 2011-2012.

The Devils concluded the week with their 4-1 win over the Rangers last night.

Alexei Ponikarovsky is day-to-day with a slight MCL sprain in his right knee. He has missed three straight games for Jersey.

Andy Greene also missed time due to an injury. However, Greene only missed the Devils’ loss to the Isles. He returned to the line-up for last night’s game and had an assist.

The Devils start the upcoming week with a home-and-home against the Islanders, as the teams meet in Jersey tomorrow night and in New York on Saturday night. A home-and-home with the Flyers follows, as the teams play in Jersey on Sunday and Philly on Tuesday.

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New York Islanders: 2-1-0. After a loss to Philly on Thursday, the Islanders recorded a pair of wins against two of the tougher teams in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders look to move their way up the standings this week, as they have two games at home and two games on the road.

After their 6-3 loss to the Flyers, the Isles beat the Bruins 3-2 on Saturday. John Tavares’ 26th goal of the season, and his eighth game-winning goal, beat Tim Thomas with only 4:39 left in the game. Tavares added an assist, while Matt Moulson had a goal and an assist also, as the Isles snapped a three-game losing streak with their 15th one-goal game win of the season. Nabokov made 32 saves to end his three-game losing streak, while Bailey scored his fourth goal in a three-game span with his tally in the opening 20 minutes. Frans Nielsen had two assists for his sixth multi-point performance in 2011-2012, as the Isles beat the Bruins for the first time this season. The win also improved the Islanders’ record to 1-2-1 on their road trip and to 5-9-2 against the Northeast Division this year.

New York finished their week with a 1-0 win over the Devils on Sunday.

Nilsson’s appearance in the Islanders’ line-up this week is due to the fact Al Montoya is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Dylan Reese was expected to return to the line-up after he missed 11 games due to a sprained left MCL, but he is now day-to-day with the flu.

Michael Grabner is also day-to-day with the flu. He has missed the Isles’ last two games.

After their home-and-home with the Devils, the Islanders travel to Madison Square Garden on Sunday to play the Rangers. New York concludes the week with a game in Washington against the Capitals.

  • Jaws

    You know its March when the Devils start stepping up their game.  I think the Flyers and the Deveils should consider a consolidation (or a straight up trade for Brodeur.)