Atlantic Watch: Rangers on Winning Streak, Islanders on Point Streak, Devils Need Brodeur, Players Lost on Waivers

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The Philadelphia Flyers started the week with a pair of wins, but ended the seven-day stretch on a sour note with a frustrating loss in New York last night. The Orange and Black need to grab some points this week, as two of their three contests over the next seven days are against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins.

Philly started the week with a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. Claude Giroux scored just 23 seconds in and Wayne Simmonds converted on a power-play chance a little over four minutes into the contest to put the Flyers up by two after the first period. Simon Gagne scored a power-play tally in his first game back with the Flyers early in the second period and Max Talbot launched a rocket past Braden Holtby to end the goalie’s day after he allowed four goals on 15 shots. Philipp Grubauer stopped all 13 shots Philly threw at him and Joel Ward scored with 2:09 left in regulation to end Ilya Bryzgalov’s shutout bid, as the Flyers’ goaltender finished with 23 saves.

On Saturday, the Orange and Black put together a 2-1 win at home over the Ottawa Senators. Goals from Jakub Voracek and Simmonds in the second period was all Bryzgalov needed, as Marc Methot’s first of the season was the only shot of Ottawa’s 34 to find the back of the net. The game featured two intense scrums, the first of which came in the first period, when Harry Zolnierczyk earned a charging major, and ultimately a four-game suspension, with his hit on Mike Lundin at the Flyers’ blue line. The second came in the third period, when Daniel Alfredsson earned a cross-checking major on Zac Rinaldo. Ben Bishop made 39 saves on Saturday, but earned the loss.

Last night the Flyers suffered a 4-2 loss at Madison Square Garden to the New York Rangers. After Ryan Callahan put home a pair of goals in the first period, Rick Nash deposited two of his own in the final stanza to grab the two points for New York. Henrik Lundqvist racked up the win for the Blueshirts with 23 saves, as Voracek and Simmonds were the only two Flyers to score for a second straight game. Bryzgalov allowed four goals on 20 shots, but was hung out to dry on some of the Rangers’ goals. To make matters worse, the Flyers’ Nicklas Grossmann left after the first period with a lower-body injury. As for the Rangers, Marc Staal left in the third period after a Kimmo Timonen shot was redirected by Voracek and hit the defenseman right above his eye. With Brad Richards out due to an injury suffered on Sunday, Micheal Haley was called up from the Connecticut Whale and saw 4:12 TOI, as well as an altercation on the bench with Scott Hartnell.

In terms of transactions, the Flyers waived a pair of players and signed a pair to entry-level contracts.

Both Tom Sestito and Michael Leighton were waived by Philadelphia this week. Sestito was picked up by the Vancouver Canucks, where he is minus-3 with 10 PIMs thanks to fights against Jordan Nolan and Brian McGrattan. Leighton wasn’t picked up by another club, so he was assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms.

As for the entry-level contracts, the Flyers signed their 2012 second-round draft pick Anthony Stolarz and current Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds’ right winger Brandon Alderson to deals.

Stolarz is currently with the London Knights of the OHL, where he has an 11-2-1 record with a 2.14 GAA and a .927 save percentage.

Alderson, who is teammates with Flyers’ prospect Nick Cousins, has 25 goals and 33 assists in 61 games. The 6’4″, 202-pound 21-year-old had 39 points in 65 games last year for the Greyhounds.

Sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference, things will only get tougher for the Flyers, as they start this week with a game against the Penguins in Philly on Thursday night. On Saturday, the Flyers visit the Boston Bruins in a matinee match before they return to the Wells Fargo Center to host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.

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Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. After a loss to Jordan Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins rebounded with two wins to end the week. With a five-point lead over the New Jersey Devils for first in the division, the Pens play two Atlantic Division clubs and one of the two teams in the Eastern Conference currently with more points than them over the next seven days.

In the first game between the Pens and Hurricanes since their massive deal over the summer, Staal’s new team beat Brandon Sutter and his old squad by the count of 4-1 at PNC Arena on Thursday. Jiri Tlusty had two goals and a helper, while Eric Staal had a tally and two assists to help the Canes hand the Penguins the three-goal loss. Chris Kunitz was the only Pen to beat Cam Ward, as he opened the scoring 13:14 into the affair off of assists from Sidney Crosby and Matt Niskanen. In addition to Tlusty and Staal, Jeff Skinner also beat Marc-Andre Fleury in the loss, as Pittsburgh’s netminder allowed four goals on 29 shots. To add on to the loss, defenseman Paul Martin suffered a lower-body injury and has yet to play since the defeat. He’s considered day-to-day.

On Saturday, the Pens put together a crazy 7-6 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Sutter scored his second of the contest 52 seconds into the extra frame to grab the Pens the additional point, as Tomas Vokoun made 33 stops on 39 attempts. Matt Cooke and Kunitz each had two-goal games as well for Pittsburgh, while Kris Letang recorded a four-assist tilt. Crosby had a goal and two helpers, as Carey Price allowed seven goals against on 36 shots. Brian Gionta had a two-goal game for Montreal, while the group of Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Kaberle, Alexei Emelin, and Lars Eller had two assists apiece.

The Pens made it two straight when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 at the CONSOL Energy Center on Monday night. After he missed four games with a concussion, Evgeni Malkin had a goal and a helper in the win, while the Pens’ captain also had a goal and an assist in the victory. Kunitz opened the scoring again and James Neal tacked on the empty-netter, as Fleury allowed three goals on 28 shots for the decision. Letang had two helpers for his second straight multi-assist contest, while Steven Stamkos had two goals in the loss. Tom Pyatt also had a goal in the loss, as Deryk Engelland and Pierre-Cedric Labrie dropped the gloves just minutes into the contest.

Pittsburgh added a player and lost a player on waivers this week, as they signed forward Tom Kostopoulos and lost Zach Boychuk to the Nashville Predators.

Kostopoulos signed a one-year deal worth $600,000 before being placed on waivers. He has three goals and four assists, along with 43 PIMs, in 17 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this year.

As for Boychuk, the Preds claimed him off of waivers yesterday. He failed to record a point in seven games with the Pens this season, as he posted a minus-2 rating in his time with the team.

The Pens hit the road for games at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday against the Flyers and at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team returns to Pittsburgh on Sunday to host the Islanders before they conclude the week against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

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New Jersey Devils: 0-3-1. The injury to Martin Brodeur continues to haunt the New Jersey Devils, as their four losses this week extend their losing streak to six games. The Devils look to snap the skid with a contest against a Northeast Division foe, the leaders of the Southeast Division, and a team they’ve lost to twice on their current losing streak.

The four-loss week started with a 3-1 loss at the MTS Centre to the Winnipeg Jets. Andrew Ladd took all of eight seconds to beat Johan Hedberg for the extremely early Winnipeg lead. Andrei Loktionov evened the game early in the second period, but Ladd’s second of the contest with 8:01 left in regulation was the game-winner. Blake Wheeler added on an empty-netter, as Hedberg suffered the loss with 18 saves on 20 shots. Tim Sestito made his season debut in the loss, where he saw 5:18 TOI. The loss was Jersey’s third straight multi-goal defeat and marked the fifth time in a six-game span where they scored two goals or less.

The Devils’ only point of the week came in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Saturday. Both Jason Pominville and Tyler Ennis beat Hedberg in the shootout, while Ryan Miller watched Ilya Kovalchuk miss his attempt and stoned Adam Henrique to finish off his 28-save win. In regulation, Steve Bernier scored a little over two minutes after Pominville handed Buffalo the lead in the middle of the second period on a shorthanded goal to make it a 1-1 game heading into the third period. Henrique notched a shorthanded goal of his own early in the third period, but Pominville tied the game at two less than two minutes later and Jochen Hecht’s first of the year put the Sabres up 3-2 with 10:13 left in the tilt. Loktionov gained the point for Jersey, as his second in as many games tied the game at three with 8:38 left. In his first game back after missing four games with a head injury, Ryan Carter had an assist and two PIMs in 12:10 TOI.

On Monday, the Devils lost 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Carter set up Marek Zidlicky for two goals in the second period to help the visitors head into the third period up 2-1. The trio of Jay McClement, Clarke MacArthur, and Phil Kessel beat Hedberg on three of the Leafs’ 13 shots in the final stanza to grab the win. James Reimer made 28 stops for the victory, as Nazem Kadri opened the scoring with his ninth of the campaign halfway through the first period. With the loss, the Devils finished their three-game road trip 0-2-1 and were outscored 10-6.

It didn’t get much better for the Devils when they returned to the Prudential Center, as they were dominated by the Lightning last night for a 5-2 loss. Nate Thompson had two goals and an assist, while Martin St. Louis and Alexander Killorn each had a goal and a helper in the win. Cory Conacher and Vincent Lecavalier both had two-assist games, as Anders Lindback made 25 saves in the victory. Hedberg was chased out of the crease midway through the third period after Thompson’s first of the contest was Hedberg’s third goal allowed on just 11 shots faced. Keith Kinkaid made his NHL debut in relief of Hedberg and stopped 12 of the 13 shots he saw. After being recalled from the Albany Devils earlier in the day, Cam Janssen had two PIMs in 5:37 TOI.

In terms of transactions, the Devils lost Bobby Butler on waivers and moved Scott Wedgewood from the Trenton Titans to Albany.

Butler was claimed by the Predators on Monday, as he had one goal and one assist with a minus-6 rating in 14 games with Jersey this season.

Wedgewood was called up to the AHL this week, but he has yet to play in a game for the Albany Devils. Wedgewood has been the starter for the Trenton Titans all season, as he has a record of 17-21-5 in the ECHL with a 3.24 GAA and a .898 save percentage.

The Devils will host the Sabres at the Prudential Center on Thursday night before they travel to the PNC Arena on Saturday to play the Hurricanes. The Devils then return to Jersey for a contest against the Jets on Sunday.

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New York Rangers: 3-0-0. After they endured a four-game losing streak, the Rangers are currently on a three-game winning streak. The Blueshirts look to extend their streak with four games this week, three of which come against teams outside of the playoff picture.

New York snapped their losing streak on Thursday with a 4-1 decision over the Lightning on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan scored in the game’s first 8:40 before St. Louis had the only shot of Tampa Bay’s 25 on Lundqvist to beat New York’s goalie to make it a one-goal game after 20 minutes. A power-play goal from Staal in the second period and a tally from Nash, who returned after missing four games, in the third period finalized the score, as Mathieu Garon had 38 saves in the loss. In addition to Nash, New York’s blue line saw both Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto return to action. McDonagh, who missed one game with a head injury, had two assists and a plus-one rating in the win, while Del Zotto, who missed two games with a lower-body injury, was plus-1 with a shot on net.

On Sunday, the Rangers scored two goals in the third period to edge out a 3-2 victory in a shootout over the Sabres at MSG. Down by one after 40 minutes due to Drew Stafford’s second of the season in the second period, Stepan and Nash scored power-play goals 43 seconds apart on Patrick Kaleta’s five-minute major for checking from behind on Richards, which resulted in the Rangers’ forward missing last night’s game. Nathan Gerbe registered a shorthanded tally on the same penalty kill to send it into overtime. In the shootout, Nash and Callahan beat Miller, while Lundqvist stoned Pominville and Ennis for the extra point.

New York concluded the week with their 4-2 win over the Flyers last night.

Due to all the players returning from injuries, the tandem of Chris Kreider and Brandon Mashinter were returned to Connecticut. Both players participated in all three games for the Whale this week. Kreider had four goals and two PIMs with a plus-2 rating, while Mashinter had a goal and an assist along with four PIMs.

The Rangers also signed right winger Josh Nicholls to an entry-level contract. Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 182nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Nicholls is second on the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL in points with 42 goals and 33 helpers in 66 contests.

The Blueshirts play the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum tomorrow night before they return to MSG to host the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. The Rangers then start a four-game road trip on Sunday at the Verizon Center against the Washington Capitals before they finish the upcoming seven-day stretch against the Sabres at the First Niagara Center.

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New York Islanders: 2-0-1. After they dropped the first two games in their current seven-game homestand, the New York Islanders earned five out of the possible six points over their last three games. The Isles will conclude their lengthy homestand this weekend before they travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday to start a three-game road trip.

The Islanders only loss of the week came on Thursday, when they lost 5-4 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kadri’s hat trick helped the Leafs beat the Isles, as Dion Phaneuf recorded the game-winner 1:11 into the extra period. Kyle Okposo had a goal and two assists in the loss, while Andrew MacDonald had a goal and a helper. Evgeni Nabokov allowed five goals on 28 shots, while Reimer made just as many stops for the win. In addition to MacDonald scoring his first of 2013, both Josh Bailey and Lubomir Visnovsky notched their first tallies of the shortened season. The loss concluded the Isles three-game losing streak.

On Sunday, New York opened March with a 3-2 shootout win over the Sens at Nassau Coliseum. Brad Boyes potted his fifth of the campaign in the first period and Mika Zibanejad scored in the second to make it a 1-1 game after 40 minutes. Michael Grabner looked to have recorded the game-winner with 3:29 left in regulation, but an Okposo tripping minor with 1:48 remaining led to Patrick Wiercioch’s first NHL goal on the man advantage to send it to overtime. After a scoreless extra period, the tandem of Frans Nielsen and Jakob Silfverberg converted on their shootout attempts in the opening round. Boyes and Alfredsson didn’t score in the second round, which led to John Tavares putting home the decisive goal in the shootout for the additional point.

Last night, the Islanders beat the Canadiens 6-3 in New York on an historic night for Montreal. The Isles scored three goals in the second period and three goals in the third period to light up Price for five goals on 23 shots against, while Gionta scored the Canadiens’ 20,000th goal in franchise history on a power-play tally in the third period. The trio of Tavares, Matt Martin, and Colin McDonald each had a goal and an assist in the win, while Boyes and Thomas Hickey had two-assist contests. Nabokov may have allowed three goals or more for a third time in his last four starts, but the netminder earned the win in a 29-save performance. The victory put the Islanders three points behind the Devils, two points behind the Rangers, and one point behind the Flyers in the standings.

There isn’t much news for the Islanders in terms of transactions except for Visnovsky’s departure to Slovakia for the death of a friend’s son. The friend is very close to Visnovsky and he lost a 13-year-old son in a helicopter crash this weekend. The Islanders aren’t sure if he’ll be back in time for Saturday’s game against the Caps.

New York concludes their homestand with games against the Rangers tomorrow night and the Capitals on Saturday. The Isles then conclude the week and start a short road trip on Sunday with a trip to the CONSOL Energy Center to take on the Pens.