Atlantic Watch: Gagne Returns, Pens and Rangers Deal With Injuries, Devils and Islanders Endure Goaltending Woes

HE’S BACK!!! Image courtesy of lehighvalleylive.com

The Philadelphia Flyers won a pair of exciting contests this week, but they also lost two games where they could have easily grabbed points. With the return of a familiar face, the Orange and the Black look to reach .500 with two tilts against teams below them in the standings and a matinee against a Northeast Division foe.

The Flyers started their week, and concluded their road trip, with an exciting 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Jakub Voracek put the game-winner past Tomas Vokoun with 1:31 left in regulation to complete his hat trick, while Wayne Simmonds had two goals and an assist on a night where he recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick. Claude Giroux registered a two-assist game, as the captain had helpers on both of Voracek’s tallies in the final stanza. Nicklas Grossmann scored his first goal of the year and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 27 of 32 shots, while Vokoun suffered the defeat with 26 saves on 32 attempts. Paul Martin had three assists, while the pair of James Neal and Evgeni Malkin recorded both a goal and an assist in the loss.

On Thursday, the Flyers traveled back to Philly and were handed a 5-2 defeat thanks to the visiting Florida Panthers. Peter Mueller and Tomas Kopecky potted goals just 29 ticks apart in the ninth minute of the contest before Jonathan Huberdeau made it 3-0 10:15 into the contest thanks to his conversion on a penalty shot attempt. After Huberdeau put home his second of the night with a power-play tally in the second period, Bryzgalov was pulled after he posted 11 saves on 15 shots against. In the third period, Luke Schenn scored his second of 2013 and Voracek put home his seventh, while Mueller deposited his second of the contest to complete the three-goal loss.

Two days later, Philly handed the Winnipeg Jets a 5-3 defeat at the Wells Fargo Center. Brayden Schenn recorded two goals and an assist, while Simmonds posted his second Gordie Howe hat trick in three games, as his tally in the third period on the power play was the game-winner. Giroux had a goal and a helper for a two-point contest, while Kimmo Timonen had two assists in a tilt where Bryzgalov stopped 34 of 37. Zac Rinaldo had a game to remember, as he provided 12 hits and his second tally of the campaign with an empty-netter in the game’s final second. The Flyers gained energy early in the contest due to scraps from Simmonds and the older Schenn, who fought Chris Thorburn and Evander Kane respectively.

On Monday, the Flyers fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Well by a score of 4-2. Mikhail Grabovski potted the eventual game-winner with 12:08 left in the contest, while Ben Scrivens stopped 23 of the Flyers’ 25 shots on net. Phil Kessel beat Bryzgalov in the first period for his fourth of 2013 and Nikolai Kulemin scored late in the second period before Scott Hartnell registered his first tally of the season to make it a one-goal game after 40 minutes. Voracek’s power-play goal with 8:18 remaining cut the deficit to one again, but Jay McClement iced the victory with the empty-net tally. Tye McGinn broke his orbital bone after he was handled in a fight by Mike Brown, as Bryzgalov allowed three goals on 21 shots.

In terms of roster moves, the Flyers had a key forward return from an injury and lost a pair of forwards to injuries, as well as completed a couple of trades.

Although the team had Hartnell return to action, they lost Matt Read for the next several weeks. In Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, Read tore his rib cage muscles, which will sideline the skater, who is currently tied for the team lead with seven goals, for the next six weeks.

As for McGinn, his broken orbital bone will keep him out of the lineup for at least two weeks.

Hartnell returned on Saturday after missing 16 games due to his broken left foot. He had a goal on six shots and four PIMs in his first two games back from the injury.

Tom Sestito, who was playing with the Adirondack Phantoms for a conditioning assignment, aggravated his lower-body injury. He is out indefinitely with what is considered to be a charley horse, according to Anthony SanFilippo.

When it comes to the trades, the Flyers acquired Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings and Mitch Wahl from the Calgary Flames.

Gagne, who has five assists and a plus-2 rating in 11 games this season, was sent to Philly in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. According to the Los Angeles Times, the pick will become a third-round pick if the Flyers make the postseason.

The Flyers shipped Mike Testwuide to the Flames in exchange for Wahl, a center who was taken 48th overall by Calgary in the 2008 NHL Draft. Wahl, who was assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms, had a goal in six games with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL and 59 points in 45 games with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL.

Philly starts off the week by hosting the Washington Capitals tonight and concludes their homestand on Saturday with a matinee meeting against the Ottawa Senators. The Orange and the Black finish their seven-day span with a visit to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers.

Be sure to grab tickets to the game tonight and on Saturday’s game here: Philadelphia Flyers tickets.

Image courtesy of Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-2-0. After their loss last Wednesday, the Pens won their final two games in their three-game homestand before they dropped the first decision in their current three-game road trip. Pittsburgh will face off against the other two division leaders in the Eastern Conference before they conclude the week in Tampa Bay.

Two days after Philly handed them a 6-5 loss in Pittsburgh, the Pens beat the Florida Panthers 3-1. Chris Kunitz erased the one-goal deficit created by Mike Weaver halfway through the game before Matt Niskanen deposited the game-winner with 12:11 left in regulation. Dustin Jeffrey notched his first tally of 2013 in the game’s final five minutes to finalize the score, while Marc-Andre Fleury earned the victory with 22 stops on 23 shots against. Unfortunately for the Pens, Malkin suffered a concussion in the loss, as the forward fell to the ice after a legal check and crashed into the boards. He has been placed on injured reserve.

Sidney Crosby led his team to a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday to cap off their homestand. Crosby scored two goals in the game’s first 7:15 to put his team up 2-0 and set up Beau Bennett for the rookie’s first goal in the NHL, which turned out to be the decisive tally. Martin and Matt Cooke both recorded a goal and an assist in the contest, while Kris Letang had two helpers in Fleury’s 27-save effort for his fifth straight victory. Anders Lindback started the contest, but left after 20 minutes due to the fact he allowed three goals on 10 shots. Mathieu Garon suffered the loss despite stopping 10 of the 11 shots he faced.

Last night, the Pens allowed six goals against for a second time in a four-game span, as they dropped a 6-4 decision to the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center. Kopecky posted his first career hat trick and tacked on an assist in a game that saw four different goalies in the crease. Both Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell had three-point contests, while Scott Clemmensen was the only goalie in the affair to stop every shot he saw with 15 saves. Vokoun allowed four goals on 22 shots, but Fleury suffered the loss by only allowing the game-winning goal on the 13 shots he faced. Neal and Kunitz each had a goal and an assist in the loss, while Crosby had a two-assist tilt in the Pens’ second loss over their last seven contests.

In addition to the Malkin news, the Pens’ roster also saw the addition of Mark Eaton. The former Flyer had an assist and four PIMs, as well as a minus-5 rating in six games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pens of the AHL in a PTO before he signed a one-year deal worth $725,000.

The Pens visit the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena tomorrow night and the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Saturday before they return home to host the Lightning on Monday.

Image courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images

New Jersey Devils: 1-2-0. The Devils’ slide continued this week, as they lost two of their three games to fall to 1-3-1 in their last five contests. New Jersey endures a three-game road trip this week before they host the Bolts on Tuesday.

A pair of goals in the third period helped the Devils edge out a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Thursday. Andrei Loktionov’s first as a Devil tied the game at two with 10:41 left, while Ilya Kovalchuk’s power-play tally 2:21 later put Jersey up by one. Patrik Elias scored a shorthanded tally in the second period and assisted on Kovalchuk’s winner for a two-point affair, as Martin Brodeur denied 17 of the 19 shots he saw on the night. Jersey’s penalty kill allowed two goals on four Washington power plays, but fortunately for the Devils the Capitals handed the visitors six power plays.

Two days later, the same two teams met at the same location, but the Caps won this time around with a 5-1 decision. Alex Ovechkin produced his 11th career hat trick to increase his goal total to eight in 2013, as Washington’s captain also added on an assist for his first four-point night of the year. Ovechkin’s first of the game came early in the second period, but Kovalchuk’s second goal in as many games evened the score in the final minute of the middle frame. Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer scored in the third period, while Ovechkin’s final two goals of his hat trick came in the final period as well to hand the Devils their third four-goal loss in February. Johan Hedberg stopped 21 of 26 shots for his second straight game with at least five goals against.

After Saturday’s loss, the Devils lost to the Jets on Sunday by the count of 4-2 at the Prudential Center. Travis Zajac and Steve Bernier put Jersey up by one at the end of 20 minutes, but tallies from Grant Clitsome and Kane in the middle period allowed Winnipeg to grab two points on the road. Andrew Ladd deposited his tenth of 2013 in the third period to help Ondrej Pavelec record his third win in four starts with a 24-save performance. For a third straight start, Hedberg allowed at least four goals against, as he stopped 23 of the Jets’ 27 shots in the loss.

New Jersey suffered a pair of injuries this week, as both Brodeur and Ryan Carter were placed on injured reserve.

Brodeur was expected to start Sunday’s game against the Jets, but the veteran netminder left during warm-ups due to a sore back. According to Tom Gulitti, Lou Lamoriello stated he doesn’t believe the injury is serious, but they didn’t want to rush the goalie back into action.

Due to Brodeur’s injury, Keith Kinkaid has been called up from the Albany Devils. Kinkaid is 17-11-5 in the AHL this year with a 2.69 GAA and .905 save percentage.

As for Carter, the forward is out with a head injury that isn’t deemed a concussion. He suffered the injury last Monday against the Ottawa Senators.

The Devils complete their home-and-home with the Jets tomorrow at the MTS Centre before they play the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on Saturday. After a contest in Toronto on Monday against the Maple Leafs, the Devils return to Jersey for a game against the Lightning on Tuesday.

Image courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Rangers: 0-2-1. After they lost two of their three games last week, the Rangers lost all three of their contests this week to only grab one point in the standings. The Blueshirts look to turn it around with the final three games of their current four-game homestand coming up in the next seven days.

New York gained their only point of the week on Thursday when they lost 3-2 to the Sens in a shootout at Scotiabank Place. Ryan Callahan scored his fourth of the season on the man advantage and Ryan McDonagh potted his second of 2013 in a three-minute span in the third period to put the Rangers up by one, but Mika Zibanejad made it a 2-2 affair with 6:30 left in the tilt. In the seventh round of the shootout, Kaspars Daugavins was the second Sen to beat Henrik Lundqvist in the skills competition and Chris Kreider missed on a chance to extend the contest to hand Ottawa the additional point. Craig Anderson left the contest with an injury, but Ben Bishop stopped 11 of the 13 shots he saw, as well as three stops in the shootout. Lundqvist experienced his second straight loss with 35 saves during regulation and overtime, as well as two saves in the shootout.

On Saturday, Carey Price blanked the Blueshirts in Montreal, as the Canadiens’ three-goal second period handed the hosts the 3-0 win. Price’s second shutout in four games was thanks to the fact he denied all 17 shots the Rangers threw at him. Erik Cole, Alex Galchenyuk, and Lars Eller each registered a goal in the second period, as Martin Biron made 15 stops on 18 of the Candiens’ shots on net. The loss marked the second time New York was blanked this season, as the Pens beat the Rangers by the same score on January 31st at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers returned home last night to start their homestand with a 4-3 loss to the Jets. Both Kane and Olli Jokinen had two-goal games, as Pavelec recorded the win with 30 stops on 33 shots against. Callahan had the Rangers’ lone goal in the second period, while Taylor Pyatt made it a 3-2 game halfway through the third before Kane restored the two-goal lead just 20 seconds later. Anton Stralman’s third tally of 2013 came 57 seconds after Kane’s goal to finalize the score at 4-3. With the loss, New York only has one regulation win in their last seven games, which was a 2-1 victory over the Caps.

In the Rangers’ defense, the team is dealing with several injuries at the moment. The group of Rick Nash, Michael Del Zotto, Arron Asham, and McDonagh are all out of the lineup for New York.

Nash, who last played on February 17th, was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. The Rangers haven’t stated why the forward has been missing time, but Nash did return to the ice yesterday for practice. Nash is believed to be out of the lineup due to several things, which include a nagging groin injury, a bum shoulder, and/or a possible concussion.

As for Del Zotto, the blue liner has missed the team’s last two games with a lower-body injury. He was anticipated to come back last night against the Jets, but didn’t take part in the loss. Del Zotto is considered day-to-day with his injury.

Asham has missed New York’s last three games with back spasms. The former Flyer is considered day-to-day as well.

McDonagh left during the loss to the Canadiens on Saturday, as the defenseman had his head slammed into the boards due to a hit from Max Pacioretty. Montreal’s forward, who was annihilated by Zdeno Chara on a hit into the turnbuckle two seasons ago, avoided a suspension for his borderline hit on McDonagh. According to the New York Post, McDonagh is believed to be suffering from post-concussion-like symptoms.

New York nearly experienced another significant injury on Saturday when Dan Girardi dropped to the ice after he blocked a P.K. Subban slap shot with his skate. After X-rays came back negative, Girardi suited up for the Rangers’ game last night, where he posted an assist.

Due to all the injuries, the tandem of Christian Thomas and Steve Eminger saw time with the Rangers this week.

Thomas, who was picked 40th overall by New York in the 2010 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut on Saturday. He registered two shots on net in 12:46 TOI.

Eminger took part in his fifth game of the season with the Rangers last night. He had an assist in 20:33 TOI.

New York was also fortunate to have Darroll Powe return to action after he missed three games due to a concussion. The former Flyer played in last night’s loss and posted a minus-1 rating in 12:04 TOI.

The Rangers next three games are at home, as they host the Lightning on Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, and the Flyers on Tuesday.

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New York Islanders: 2-2-0. The Islanders may have the lowest point total for any team in the division, but with two wins in four games this week New York is only one point behind the Rangers and two points behind the Flyers. Still in the middle of their seven-game homestand, the Islanders will play in three contests at Nassau Coliseum over the next seven days.

The Isles’ week started with a 4-3 overtime decision over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Thursday night. Thomas Hickey provided his first NHL goal 3:12 into overtime to give New York the win, as Evgeni Nabokov stopped 30 of the Canadiens’ 33 shots on net. Matt Moulson had two goals in the victory, while John Tavares had two assists to help the Islanders end a two-game skid. Down a goal in the third period, Frans Nielsen deposited his second of the season past Price to make it a 3-3 contest with 10:09 left in regulation.

Two days later, Nabokov recorded a 35-save shutout to help New York beat the Sabres 4-0 in Buffalo. Nabokov’s shutout was his first of 2013, his third as an Islander, and the 53rd of his career, as New York recorded their second four-goal victory of the year. Mark Streit’s fourth goal of the year late in the first was the eventual game-winner, as the blue liner also had an assist for his first multi-point contest of the season. Michael Grabner, Tavares, and Colin McDonald each provided a goal in the win, while Moulson had a two-assist contest to give the Islanders their fourth decision in six games.

The Islanders started their lengthy homestand the following day with a 4-2 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes. After Moulson and Tavares scored in the opening stanza, the Canes produced two goals in both the second and third periods for the win. Kevin Poulin stopped 24 of 27 shots in his first NHL game of 2013, while Cam Ward allowed two goals against on 25 shots. Alex Semin had a three-point game, as Bobby Sanguinetti’s first NHL goal served as the game-winner. The loss marked the end of Moulson’s point streak, which concluded at three games with three goals and three assists.

New York concluded their week with a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins last night at the Nassau Coliseum. Adam McQuiad and Casey Cizikas traded goals in the first period, but the tandem of Brad Marchand and David Krejci scored in the second frame for Boston. Gregory Campbell tacked on the empty-netter to hand the Isles their fourth loss of the season where they lost by three or more goals. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves for the win, while Nabokov allowed three tallies on 33 shots against to end his two-game winning streak. The Islanders dropped to 0-2-0 against the Bruins this year with the loss and to 3-4-0 against the Northeast Division.

Poulin was in net for New York this week due to the fact the team waived Rick DiPietro. Since no team picked the goaltender up off of waivers he was sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL. DiPietro has yet to play for the Sound Tigers this season.

The Islanders look to end their two-game skid with tilts at home against the Maple Leafs tomorrow, the Sens on Sunday, and the Canadiens on Tuesday.