Atlantic Watch: 1/23-1/29

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The Philadelphia Flyers started the week with a pair of wins, but a pair of lackadaisical efforts led to two losses where they were outscored 7-2. The Orange and Black find themselves at the bottom of the division with a trio of meetings against Southeast Division opponents over the next seven days.

With a record of 0-3-0 and playing a team they went 0-6-0 against in 2011-2012, the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the visiting New York Rangers wasn’t expected on Thursday night. After a scoreless opening stanza, the tandem of Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek registered their first goals of the season late in the second period. In between the tallies, Tye McGinn had his first major moment as a Flyer when he put a beat down on Kris Newbury. Despite the fact Philly outshot the Blueshirts 28-13 in the first 40 minutes, the Rangers made it a one goal game 1:39 into the final period when Taylor Pyatt capitalized on a Braydon Coburn high-sticking minor for his third goal of the season. With a little less than eight minutes left, the Flyers pulled off an inspiring 5-on-3 penalty kill that lasted all of 1:45. Several big saves from Ilya Bryzgalov and hustle from the skaters on the ice, Philly skated to the 2-1 win. Bryzgalov stopped 18 of the Rangers’ 19 shots in the affair, while Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves in the loss.

Two days later, the Orange and Black trucked the Florida Panthers for a 7-1 road win. Matt Read powered the visitors’ offense, as he recorded the first hat trick in his career for his first three tallies of 2013. Both Coburn and Claude Giroux registered two-assist games, while Luke Schenn and Ruslan Fedotenko both recorded a goal and an assist in the win. McGinn potted his first NHL goal in the opening stanza, as the Flyers skated to their first six-goal win since their 7-1 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had Jussi Rynnas in net making his NHL debut, on March 29th, 2012. Peter Mueller’s goal that came on an unexpected breakaway in the second period was the only thing that kept Bryzgalov from a shutout, as the Russian netminder kept 30 of Florida’s 31 shots out of the cage. Jose Theodore recorded the loss for the Panthers, as he was yanked after he allowed three goals on nine shots. Scott Clemmensen didn’t do much better in relief with 13 stops on 17 attempts.

On Sunday, the Flyers were trampled by the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. After Sean Couturier snuck a shot along the goal line between Anders Lindback’s right skate and near post 59 seconds into the game, the Bolts rattled off the next five goals for the resounding four-goal decision. Michael Leighton made 21 stops on 26 shots in his first game of 2013, as the Lightning had two goals on the man advantage and another tally that came two seconds after a power play. On top of that, Max Talbot had an Eric Brewer shot from the point ricochet off his stick and beat Leighton for the game-winning goal. Not only did Tampa Bay post five goals, they limited the Flyers’ chances severely, as Lindback had a 24-save victory and Tampa’s skater blocked 26 shots.

Last night, the Flyers traveled to New York to suffer a 2-1 loss to the Rangers. Philadelphia’s inability to convert on a long 5-on-3 advantage in the middle of the second period while trailing by one turned out to be the turning point in the game, as Ryan Callahan deposited the game-winning goal shortly after the kill. Callahan, however, left the game in the third period when he engaged in a scrap with Talbot and favored his left arm when the two finished their bout. Kimmo Timonen cut the deficit to one in the third period off a feed from Simmonds in the corner to keep Lundqvist from getting the shutout. Bryzgalov, who had 26 saves in the loss, allowed a Michael Del Zotto goal through traffic right before the two-minute mark of the contest. New York scored on one of their two power plays in the win.

Philly was involved in several transactions and suffered several injuries, along with one suspension. Due to a hit on Anton Volchenkov in last Tuesday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils, Brayden Schenn was suspended one game, which meant he didn’t play in the Flyers’ first win of the season on Thursday. He returned to action on Saturday.

Another incident that stemmed from that loss to the Devils was an injury to Scott Hartnell. The top-six forward is on injured reserve after he was hit in the foot by a shot from Timonen. Hartnell had surgery to repair his broken first metatarsal on his left foot and is expected to be out four to six weeks.

Philadelphia suffered another setback on Thursday, when defenseman Andrej Meszaros left the Rangers’ game with a sprained left shoulder. Meszaros was placed on injured reserve and is expected to miss a month of action.

On the bright side of the injury situation, the tandem of Danny Briere and Zac Rinaldo returned to action. Briere made his season debut on Saturday and is pointless with a minus-1 rating in three games. Rinaldo, who missed four games with a laceration to his right leg, had two PIMs in his return to the squad last night.

The Flyers returned Scott Laughton to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL and Eric Wellwood to the Adirondack Phantoms, while they added Andreas Lilja from Adirondack and Mike Knuble from free agency.

Lilja made his season debut on Tuesday and posted a minus-1 rating in 9:28 time on the ice.

Knuble, who was spending time with the Grand Rapids Griffins, signed a one-year contract worth $750,000. He has an assist and two PIMs in three games so far with the Flyers.

As for other moves within the organization, Niko Hovinen was picked up off of waivers by the Edmonton Oilers and Cal Heeter was dropped to the Trenton Titans.

After they rest tonight and tomorrow, the Flyers visit the Washington Capitals on Friday before they play the Carolina Hurricanes the following day. Philly caps off the week with a rematch against the Lightning on Tuesday. You can buy tickets for any of the games here Philadelphia Flyers tickets.

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New Jersey Devils: 1-0-2. The Devils managed to earn a point in all three games this week despite the fact they only won one game, as they won in overtime, lost in overtime, and lost in a shootout. New Jersey is one of four teams in the NHL who have yet to lose in regulation this season. They hope that trend continues with four games against teams within the division over the next few days.

The Devils needed extra time on Friday to keep their perfect record intact when they edged out a 3-2 decision against the Caps. Jacob Josefson led a shorthanded odd-man rush before he made a crafty pass to Stephen Gionta, who potted a goal one second after Ilya Kovalchuk left the sin bin for a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Patrik Elias extended the lead late in the middle frame with a power-play goal on a 5-on-3 opportunity. After lacking energy for most of the contest, the Capitals came alive in the third period. Thanks to a lengthy 5-on-3 chance, Mike Ribeiro slid home an easy tally off a cross-crease feed from Joel Ward with Martin Brodeur out of position to make it a one-goal game. With less than three minutes left in regulation, Mike Green beat Brodeur from the point to send the game into extra time. As time whined down in overtime, Alex Ovechkin stumbled on an offensive rush, which led to him being out of position on the Devils’ counter attack. When the puck found its way to Marek Zidlicky at the point, the former Nashville Predator completed a slap pass to Kovalchuk at the side of the net for an easy game-winning dunk.

The first loss of the season for New Jersey came on Sunday, as they fell to the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. Ryan White’s first of the season and Brendan Gallagher’s first in the NHL put the Habs up by two 13:35 into the tilt. Elias’ second in as many games made it 2-1 early in the second period before Brandon Prust potted his first tally as a Canadien to make it 3-1 Montreal with 18 minutes left in regulation. David Clarkson converted on a power-play chance shortly after Prust’ goal to make it a one-goal game, while Dainius Zubrus tied the game with just under seven minutes remaining in the contest. With Andy Greene in the sin bin for holding, Andrei Markov registered the power-play tally to gain the extra point for the hosts.

Jersey lost for a second straight game last night when they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Boston Bruins in a shootout at TD Garden. Brad Marchand beat Johan Hedberg in the sixth round of the shootout to give the hosts an advantage, as Zidlicky failed to beat Tuukka Rask and handed the additional point to the Bruins. Hedberg had 27 saves in the loss, as he had two more saves than Rask and allowed only a Nathan Horton wrist shot with 4:05 remaining beat him in regulation. Although Zidlicky didn’t come through in the shootout, he did set up Jersey’s lone goal, as David Clarkson deflected a Zidlicky shot from the point into the net for a power-play tally in the middle frame. Tyler Seguin and Kovalchuk were the other two players to score in the shootout.

New Jersey completed three transactions this week, as two players were demoted and one was called up to make his NHL debut.

Mattias Tedenby was sent to the Albany Devils of the AHL and Harry Young was sent down to the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL, while winger Matt Anderson was called up and played last night in Boston. He had 11 shifts for 6:57 TOI in his debut.

After the Devils’ meeting with the Isles tomorrow, New Jersey hits the road for matinee games against the Pens on Saturday and the Islanders on Sunday. They conclude the week by hosting the Rangers at the Prudential Center on Tuesday.

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New York Islanders: 2-1-1. The Islanders are off to a strong start this year, as they sit second in the Atlantic with a 3-2-1 record. They can gain more ground in the division this week with three games against divisional opponents.

The Isles first win of the week came on Thursday, when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-4. The pair of Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson had two-goal games, while Brad Boyes had a goal and two assists for a three-point game. Both John Tavares and Frans Nielsen had two-assist games in the contest where the Islanders trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes only to score five unanswered. The win marked the first time the Islanders scored seven goals in a game since their 7-6 overtime decision over the Buffalo Sabres on February 13th, 2011.

New York’s lone regulation loss in the last seven days came on Friday when the Isles dropped a 4-2 decision to the Bruins. Keith Aucoin had a big came for New York, as the 34-year-old had a two-goal game to increase his goal total to three for 2013. Colin McDonald and David Ullstrom recorded helpers on Aucoin’s first tally, while 11 Bruins registered at least one point in the victory. Rick DiPietro allowed four goals on 27 shots in his first game since December 3rd, 2011. The loss was the Islanders’ first multi-goal loss of the season.

On Sunday, the Islanders should have walked out of the MTS Centre with a win, but they suffered a 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets instead. Mark Streit’s power-play goal gave the visitors a two-goal lead with just 10:07 left in regulation, but the Jets scored a pair to tie the game with just under six minutes left. Evander Kane had the overtime tally to hand Winnipeg the additional point, as Evgeni Nabokov was dealt the loss despite making 30 saves. Tavares, who had a three-point affair, and Moulson scored before Streit in the third period, while Ullstrom scored 2:34 into the game for a lead that lasted less than eight minutes.

Last night, the Islanders walked into the CONSOL Energy Center and made it their own in a 4-1 rout of the Penguins. Casey Cizikas opened the scoring late in the first period with his first NHL goal on a wrap-around attempt that beat Marc-Andre Fleury. The visitors pulled away in the middle stanza, as Grabner scored the first of the Islanders’ three goals in the stanza near the seven-minute mark. Thanks to power-play tallies from Tavares and Moulson, New York led 4-0 after 40 minutes. Nabokov was 1:09 away from a shutout before Pascal Dupuis backhanded home a rebound in the crease to make it a three-goal game. Fleury was pulled after the second period, with 13 saves on 17 shots, while Tomas Vokoun came in for the third period and stopped all seven shots he saw.

As for news on the saga involving Lubomir Visnovsky, the blue liner’s deadline to return to the Islanders is February 11th.

The Islanders conclude their five-game road trip tomorrow against the Devils before they host the same opponent on Sunday. They conclude a short two-game homestand on Tuesday against the Penguins.

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New York Rangers: 3-1-0. After they lost their first two games of the season, the Rangers have won three of their last four to slowly climb out of the division cellar. The team’s lone loss in the last four games came on the road against the Flyers, as the Blueshirts compete against two division leaders in the next seven days.

The Rangers’ first victory of the season came in overtime against the Bruins on Sunday in a 4-3 game. After he gave his team a 2-0 advantage in the first period, Marian Gaborik capped off his hat trick with the game-winner in the extra frame. Pyatt recorded his second goal of 2013, as his goal came in the midst of the Bruins’ three goals from the beginning of the second period to the end of the third period. Although he had three less saves than Rask, Lundqvist grabbed his first win of the season with 26 saves. Forwards Rick Nash, Brad Richards, and Derek Stepan each recorded a helper in New York’s first win of the campaign.

The Blueshirts made a trip to the Wells Fargo Center before they returned home to host the Maple Leafs on Saturday to earn a 5-2 win. Goals from Mikhail Grabovski and JVR put New York in a two-goal hole before the start of the second period. Richards’ second of the season in the second period made it a one-goal game before the Rangers potted four in the third period for the three-goal win. Marc Staal’s first of the season tied it with 12:24 left in regulation before Gaborik notched another game-winner with a little over seven minutes left in the contest. Del Zotto scored with under three minutes left and Gaborik put home an empty-net goal, as Lundqvist faced all of 17 shots and stopped 15 of them. James Reimer, on the other hand, had to face 41 shots and only made 37 stops.

New York finished their week last night with a 2-1 decision over the Flyers.

The Rangers are experiencing some injury issues, as Arron Asham missed some time due to a strained groin, while Chris Kreider is currently on injured reserve.

Asham missed the Bruins’ game as well as the first Flyers’ game due to his injury, but he returned to play in the Maple Leafs’ game and played last night against the Flyers. He has one shot on net and fought Mike Brown since he returned to action.

Kreider is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Due to this injury, the Rangers acquired Benn Ferriero from the Pens in exchange for Chad Kolarik. In two games so far with New York, Ferriero has an assist and three shots on net.

The Rangers also sent Kris Newbury down to the Connecticut Whale. He played in one game, against the Flyers on Thursday, and recorded seven PIMs.

After their match with the Penguins tomorrow, the Blueshirts compete away from Madison Square Garden on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tuesday against the Devils.

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Pittsburgh Penguins: 1-3-0. After they grabbed two wins in their first two games, the Penguins were lucky to grab a win this week, as they dropped three games and had their lone victory come in a shootout. Three of the Penguins’ four games this week are against teams in the division.

The Pens’ first loss of the season came on Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Pittsburgh by the score of 5-2. After Evgeni Malkin potted a power-play goal late in the opening stanza, James van Riemsdyk scored two of the Maple Leafs’ three goals in the middle period. Grabovski and Tyler Bozak recorded goals in the final 20 minutes to make it 5-2, as Fleury allowed five goals on 24 shots against. Sidney Crosby put home his first of the season in the second period, as the Penguins lost their home opener for the second time in their three seasons at the CONSOL Energy Center.

Two days later, the Penguins hit the road again to suffer a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Crosby put the Penguins up early with two goals in the first 14:58 to give Pittsburgh a multi-goal lead at the end of 20. The Jets responded with a three-goal second frame, as the trio of Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, and Andrew Ladd beat Vokoun, who saw 13 shots in the second period. Blake Wheeler polished off the victory for Winnipeg with an empty-netter late in the third period, as the Pens suffered back-to-back losses where they were outscored 9-4.

Pittsburgh nearly dropped a third straight game, but they managed to squeak out a 2-1 shootout win at Scotiabank Place against the Ottawa Senators. James Neal had the lone goal in regulation for the Pens and beat Craig Anderson in the first round of the skills competition to help lead Pitt to victory. Thanks to successful attempts from Crosby and Malkin in the following rounds, the Penguins snagged the extra point to improve their road record to 3-1-0. Colin Greening was the only Sen to beat Fleury in regulation, as Pittsburgh’s goaltender stoned Milan Michalek in the first round of the shootout to earn the win.

The Pens finished their week off with a 4-1 loss to the Islanders last night in Pittsburgh.

On top of the addition of Kolarik, the Pens’ biggest news surrounding player movement or injuries is the fact Matt NIskanen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The blue liner was hurt in the shootout win over the Sens and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

The Penguins make a trip to Madison Square Garden on Thursday to face the Rangers before they return to Pittsburgh to host the Devils on Saturday. Crosby and company finish the week with a pair of contests on the road against the Capitals on Sunday and the Isles on Tuesday.