Atlantic Watch: 1/19-1/22

Image courtesy of Northjersey.com

This wasn’t the way the Philadelphia Flyers wanted to start the season, but there is still plenty of time to turn it around. After they opened the 2013 campaign with a loss at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Orange and Black lost a pair of road games in Buffalo and New Jersey to start the year on a three-game losing streak. Philly doesn’t just sit at the bottom of the division, they sit at the bottom of the league, as there are there are seven teams yet to record a point, but the Flyers are the only team to have played at least three games and have yet to record a point.

The 2013 season started on Saturday, when the Flyers dropped a 3-1 decision to the visiting Penguins. The contest started with an unlucky goal that changed direction off of Luke Schenn and fooled Ilya Bryzgalov for a goal that was awarded to Paul Martin 4:40 into the game. Less than three minutes later, James Neal ripped a shot off a faceoff win from Evgeni Malkin past Bryzgalov to extend Pitt’s lead to two at the 7:20 mark of the opening stanza. Claude Giroux scored his first goal as Philly’s captain 23 seconds into the second period off a great cross-ice pass from Scott Hartnell, but the Flyers couldn’t find the equalizer, as Chris Kunitz put the game away with an empty-netter in the final minute. Marc-Andre Fleury had 26 saves on 27 shots, while Bryzgalov registered 24 stops on 26 attempts, as the Flyers lost their season opener for the first time since the 2008-2009 campaign.

Sunday marked the Flyers’ highest-scoring game so far in 2013, but they suffered a 5-2 defeat in Buffalo. After Steve Ott opened the scoring with a one-timer in the slot from Jason Pominville in the first period, Philly experienced their first and only lead of the season early in the second frame. With a Sean Couturier redirection on a Kurtis Foster slap shot and a Giroux power-play goal within the first 4:57 of the middle period, the Flyers enjoyed a one-goal lead for 10:57 before a bad line change on a 5-on-3 penalty kill led to an easy breakaway goal for Thomas Vanek. In the third period, Philly’s bad luck continued, as a Tyler Myer’s shot from the point hit Kimmo Timonen in front and found its way past Bryzgalov for the game-winner with 5:03 left in regulation. Cody Hodgson added a four-on-four goal for insurance less than two minutes later and Vanek capped off his five-point performance with the empty-netter with 48 seconds left to put the Flyers at 0-2-0.

Last night, the Orange and Black’s frustration from this year showed in a 3-0 loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center. Travis Zajac recorded the game-winner on a shot from the point from Bryce Salvador just 1:07 into the contest, as Martin Brodeur notched his 120th career shutout with a 24-save effort. New Jersey used 10 seconds of a power play in the final minute to make it 2-0 with a wrap-around effort from David Clarkson that hit Ruslan Fedotenko’s skate in front and beat Bryzgalov. The final tally came early in the second period, as Ilya Kovalchuk, who was awarded a penalty shot after Timonen hooked him on a breakaway attempt that came while Jersey was shorthanded, beat Bryzgalov by faking a shot and roofing a shot past the sprawling goalie with a backhand. Tempers flared, as scrums ensued after a Clarkson hit on Timonen in the neutral zone and Wayne Simmonds purposely nudged Brodeur after a play. Salvador and Max Talbot nearly fought in the third period, while Clarkson fought Simmonds later in the period and Brayden Schenn dropped them with Steve Bernier in the final minute.

The Flyers’ only injury of note since the beginning of the season came to Zac Rinaldo, who suffered a laceration on his right thigh that required 20 stitches after Robyn Regehr’s skate cut the forward’s leg. Rinaldo, who has nine hits so far this season after leaving Sunday’s game in the first period, is expected to miss one week.

With Rinaldo out, Tye McGinn joined the Flyers’ roster for his first stint in the NHL. In his first NHL game last night, McGinn had a shot on net and a hit in 12:13 TOI.

Philly looks for their first win this week, as they open with a game at Wells Fargo Center tomorrow against the New York Rangers. The Flyers hit the road for a four-game road trip starting Saturday, as they travel south to play the Florida Panthers before they play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. The week ends in New York with a game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. You can buy tickets to the Rangers game, or any of the road games, at Philadelphia Flyers tickets.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-0-0 – The Pens are one of two teams in the Atlantic Division to start the year off 2-0-0, as they beat the Rangers by three on Sunday. Pittsburgh plays three teams next week who failed to make the 2012 playoffs.

A day after their win in Philly, the Pens traveled to New York and handed the Rangers a 6-3 defeat. The visitors left the first period with a 3-1 advantage, as Tyler Kennedy and Matt Niskanen beat Henrik Lundqvist in the final five minutes to break the 1-1 tie. Pascal Dupuis made it 4-1 in the middle stanza before Neal recorded his second goal of the tilt, and third of the season, early in the third period. Taylor Pyatt made it 5-2 58 seconds after Neal’s strike and Rick Nash potted his first as a Blueshirt on the penalty kill later in the frame, but Kris Letang deposited an empty-net goal to make it 6-3. Tomas Vokoun had 31 saves on 34 shots in his first start as a Pen, as he guided his team to a 5-1 lead and a second straight win over a division rival.

Pittsburgh starts their four-game week with a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. After tonight, the Pens have road games on Friday at MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets and Sunday at Scotiabank Place against the Ottawa Senators. They conclude the week on Tuesday with a home game against the New York Islanders.

Image courtesy of Andy Marlin/Getty Images

New Jersey Devils: 2-0-0 – The Devils were the other team to start the season with two straight wins. They’re also one of five teams in the Eastern Conference to start the season 2-0-0, as Jersey beat a pair of teams within the Atlantic Division.

Before they beat the Flyers last night, the Devils made their way to Nassau Coliseum for a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday. The scoring opened with Zajac’s first of 2013, as he beat Evgeni Nabokov late in the second period off of assists from Kovalchuk and Henrik Tallinder. Travis Hamonic tied it for the Isles with a blast from the slot all alone on the power play with 12:48 left in regulation, as Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo registered helpers on the tally. Clarkson notched the game-winner just 65 seconds after Hamonic’s strike to give the Devils the one-goal win on the road.

Jersey has made a few transactions since January 19th. One of those moves was calling up Mattias Tedenby from the Albany Devils. He recorded an assist on Clarkson’s game-winner on Saturday, while also recording two PIMs and a shot on net, as he has suited up for both games with the Devils so far this season.

With Tedenby being called up, Bobby Butler was sent down to the AHL. He was minus-1 with three shots on net in Albany’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday. Butler leads Albany with 23 points.

As for injuries, Matt Corrente underwent shoulder surgery this week and is out for the season.

The Devils host the Washington Capitals on Friday before they have road games against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday and Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

Image courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Islanders: 1-1-0 – The Islanders find themselves third in the Atlantic Division, as the club won one of their first two games in 2013. The Isles will look to become road warriors, as they start a five-game road trip tomorrow in Toronto.

After their one-goal loss on Saturday, the Islanders had a one-goal win on Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 4-3 victory. The contest saw fighting just a second in, but the scoring didn’t start until the second period, where Grabner gave New York the advantage 6:50 into the frame. Later in the second, Matt Martin and Okposo scored 72 seconds apart to give the Islanders a three-goal lead heading into the final stanza. With David Ullstrom’s marker 1:31 into the third period, the Isles looked to be on their way to an easy victory until the Lightning came storming back. The trio of Martin St. Louis, Benoit Pouliot, and Steven Stamkos each scored a goal in a 5:38 span shortly after Ullstrom’s game-winner to make it an unexpected one-goal game. Nabokov, however, managed to keep Tampa Bay from tying it to give himself a 23-save victory and the Islanders their first win in 2013.

The Islanders haven’t made any transactions since the start of the season, but they did grab a pair of players off waivers early in the week.

On Thursday, New York took Keith Aucoin off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Aucoin had three goals and eight assists in 27 games last season with the Washington Capitals. He also had 11 goals and 59 helpers in 43 games for the Hershey Bears. In his first two games with the Isles, Aucoin has an assist, five shots on net, three hits, and a takeaway.

New York also picked up Brian Strait off of waivers from the Pens. He had an assist in nine games last year for the Penguins and four goals with 12 assists in 41 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL. In his first two games with the Islanders, he was minus-2 with three hits and a shot on goal.

The Islanders start their road trip tomorrow, as they meet the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The next day they take on the Bruins in Boston before they travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets. New York concludes the week at the CONSOL Energy Center against the Pens on Tuesday night.

Image courtesy of Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

New York Rangers: 0-2-0 – Last year’s Atlantic Division champs find themselves on the ropes early, as they stumbled out to a 0-2-0 start. The Rangers hope that three home games and two games against the only team below them in the division will help them gain ground in the standings.

Before they lost to the Pens on Sunday, the Blueshirts lost to the Boston Bruins 3-1 on Saturday at TD Garden. Milan Lucic started the scoring, as he beat Lundqvist with 5:46 left in the opening stanza. Daniel Paille potted the game-winner 8:20 into the middle frame with his first in 2013 before Brad Richards made it a one-goal game again 4:30 later. Patrice Bergeron feed Johnny Boychuk for the blue liner’s first of the year to make it 3-1 in favor of Boston with 11:47 left in regulation. Tuukka Rask held the Rangers to one goal on 21 shots, while Lundqvist suffered the loss  with 31 saves on 34 shots.

The Rangers had Arron Asham join the squad this week after his suspension, which stemmed from his cheap shot on Schenn in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. After he missed their loss to the Bruins, Asham fought Tanner Glass two seconds into Sunday’s loss against the Pens. He also recorded two takeaways.

The Blueshirts also sent Brandon Segal down to the Connecticut Whale. He had two PIMs and a blocked shot on Saturday before he was sent down to the AHL. Segal was minus-1 with a shot on net Sunday in the Whale’s 4-1 loss to the Providence Bruins.

New York starts this week with a game at home against the Bruins before they travel to Philly tomorrow to play the Flyers. The Rangers return home to host the Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Flyers on Tuesday.