The Philadelphia Flyers entered this week on a winning streak, but they left it on a losing skid and can now only hope they receive some help to make the postseason. With four of their final nine games coming up in the next week, the Orange and Black will likely find out if they will be heading to the playoffs by April 17th.
The Flyers won their third straight game on Wednesday night with a 5-3 comeback decision over the Montreal Canadiens in Philly. Wayne Simmonds tied the game with a little over five minutes left before Erik Gustafsson’s first of the year counted as the game-winner with 3:36 remaining. Simon Gagne and Jakub Voracek both had a goal and an assist, while Ilya Bryzgalov stoped 14 of 17 for the win. With Michael Leighton being shipped to Columbus earlier in the day, Cal Heeter suited up as the backup goaltender, but wasn’t needed in the victory. Unfortunately for Philly, Zac Rinaldo suffered a high ankle sprain and is out indefinitely.
The momentum from Wednesday’s win carried over into Thursday, as the Orange and Black beat the Maple Leafs 5-3 in Toronto. The unlikely trio of Sean Couturier, Jay Rosehill, and Adam Hall led the Flyers to the road win, as Couturier had two assists and Rosehill had the game-winning goal. The former Leaf also fought Colton Orr in the win, while Hall was plus-1 in 13:09 TOI, as the pair played in their first games as Flyers. Bryz made one less save than James Reimer, but earned the decision with 25 saves. Gagne, Voracek, and both the Schenn brothers scored in the victory.
Philly’s winning and point streak concluded on Saturday when they lost 4-1 to the Jets in Winnipeg. Ruslan Fedotenko scored the Flyers’ lone goal before Winnipeg scored four goals late in the middle stanza for two points. Kent Huskins recorded his first point as a Flyer with an assist on Fedotenko’s goal, as Gagne had the secondary helper on the tally. Bryz was pulled after 40 minutes, which led to Steve Mason’s debut as a Flyer. After Philly’s starter allowed four goals on 16 shots, Mason, who signed a one-year contract extension this week, stopped all nine of the shots Winnipeg threw at him in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Philly lost a painful game last night, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Islanders in New York. John Tavares and Matt Moulson both had a goal and an assist in the win, while Colin McDonald and Brad Boyes each had two-assist nights for New York. Mason made 28 saves on 31 shots in his first start as a Flyer, while Voracek had the only goal for the Flyers. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves to earn the win that moved the Isles into seventh in the Eastern Conference.
As for transactions, the Orange and Black added a young blue liner and saw an aging blue liner sign a deal to play in the Allsvenskan next season.
Philly inked Mark Alt to an entry-level contract. The defenseman, who just finished his season with the University of Minnesota, had seven assists in 39 games for the Golden Gophers.
The Flyers also let Andreas Lilja sign with Rogle BK of the Allsvenskan for the 2013-2014 campaign. He is minus-1 in one game with the Flyers this season.
The Orange and Black start the week by hosting the Ottawa Senators before they visit the First Niagara Center on Saturday to take on the Buffalo Sabres. After a meeting with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Monday, the Flyers finish the week in Philly against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. Although they suffered a horrible loss to start the week, the Penguins rebounded to clinch the Atlantic Division title this week. Pittsburgh will look to gain points against two of the bottom three teams in the Eastern Conference over the next seven days.
A day after their extensive winning streak came to a close, the Pens were dominated by the Rangers in a 6-1 defeat at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The Blueshirts received a lot of help from the trio of players they had received from the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day. Derick Brassard had a goal and three assists and John Moore had a goal, as two of the players acquired in the deal that sent Marian Gaborik to Columbus paid immediate dividends for New York. The Rangers also received Derek Dorsett and a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft in the transaction, while they sent Steven Delisle and Blake Parlett to the Jackets as well. Brad Richards and Ryane Clowe both had three-point games, while Pascal Dupuis had the lone goal for the visitors.
Pittsburgh rebounded on Friday with a 2-1 shootout win in their home game of their home-and-home with the Rangers. Jussi Jokinen, who was acquired form the Hurricanes for a conditional pick shortly after he was waived by Carolina, had a goal in regulation and the only goal in the shootout in his debut with the Pens. Jokinen was also 13-for-15 at the dot in the victory, as Marc-Andre Fleury had 34 saves in regulation and the postseason along with three saves in the shootout. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 of 27 in the loss, while Rick Nash was the lone Ranger to beat Fleury. Although the Pens won, they lost James Neal, who left the game with a concussion and is out indefinitely.
The Pens looked to be in trouble last night against the sputtering Carolina Hurricanes, but three goals in the third period led to a 5-3 win. Riley Nash made it 3-2 in favor of Carolina just two minutes into the third, but a pair of goals from Beau Bennett and Evgeni Malkin 13 seconds apart gave Pitt the lead with 9:58 left in regulation. Fleury stopped 25 of 28 for the win, while Dupuis had a three-point night and Craig Adams posted two assists.
As for roster moves, the Pens signed a pair of players to entry-level contracts and shipped a minor-league goalie to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
One of the players Pittsburgh signed to an entry-level deal is Harrison Ruopp. Picked 84th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, Ruopp has spent the last three seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.
The Pens also inked goaltender Matt Murray to an entry-level contract. Picked 83rd overall by the Penguins in the 2012 NHL Draft, Murray was teammates with Nick Cousins and Brandon Alderson while serving as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds’ goaltender in the OHL postseason.
In other goaltending news for Pittsburgh, the Pens dealt Patrick Killeen to the Blue Jackets for future considerations. He didn’t play a game in the NHL or AHL this season and posted a GAA over 3.00 and a save percentage under .900 in 35 ECHL games.
The Pens finish their road trip this week with games against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
New York Islanders: 2-0-1. Riding a five-game point streak, the Islanders find themselves seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Isles will look to extend their point streak over the next seven days against a team that will likely have home-ice advantage in the postseason, a team right below them in the standings, and the team that is last in the conference.
The Islanders may have lost on Thursday, but they extended their point streak to three games with their 2-1 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. Alexander Ovechkin was the lone skater to score in the shootout to give the Caps the additional point, as the only Islander to beat Braden Holtby in regulation, overtime, or the skills’ competition was Kyle Okposo late in the third period. The trio of Frans Nielsen, Boyes, and Tavares failed to beat Holtby in the shootout, while Nabokov suffered the loss despite stopping 21 of 22.
New York returned to the win column on Saturday with a 4-2 decision over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum. Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist in the win, while the trio of Matt Martin, Andrew MacDonald, and Michael Grabner also beat Ben Bishop in the tilt. Jesse Joensuu, who made his season debut after missing the first 36 games with a sports hernia injury he suffered while playing for Assat of the SM-liiga during the lockout, recorded two PIMs and eight shots on net in 10:49 TOI.
New York finished the week with a three-goal win over the Orange and Black.
The Islanders signed blue liner Scott Mayfield to an entry-level contract. Picked 34th overall by New York in the 2011 NHL Draft, Mayfield had three shots on net and a minus-1 rating in his first game with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
After a trip to TD Garden to play the Boston Bruins tomorrow night, the Isles return home to host the Rangers on Saturday and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
New York Rangers: 1-1-1. The Rangers are clinging on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as they earned three out of the possible six points available this week. New York will finish their home-and-home with the Toronto Maple Leafs before taking on two teams outside of the playoff picture.
After their home-and-home with the Pens, the Rangers beat the Hurricanes 4-1 on Saturday at PNC Arena. Nash and Derek Stepan both had a goal and an assist in the victory, while Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan also beat Dan Ellis in the win. Lundqvist produced a season-high 48 saves to earn his third win over a four-game span.
The Blueshirts finished the week with a 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. Phil Kessel posted two goals in a three-point effort and helped the Leafs beat Lundqvist, who suffered the loss with 24 saves on 28 shots. Nash had a two-goal night and Stepan had a goal and a helper in the Rangers’ road loss. Down 3-1 to start the third period, New York tied the game with exactly 11 minutes left before Kessel put home the game-winner 39 seconds later.
In transactions for New York, Jesper Fast joined the Rangers’ organization on loan from HV71 in the Elitserien. In one game so far with the Connecticut Whale, Fast had a goal and two PIMs with a minus-1 rating.
The Blueshirts host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight before they hit the road to take on the New York Islanders on Saturday and the Flyers on Tuesday.
New Jersey Devils: 0-2-1. The Devils just can’t find a way to win, as they extended their losing streak to seven games. New Jersey will look for their first win in April over the next seven days against three teams that will most likely be playing in the postseason.
It was a flukey goal that cost the Devils their game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, as they lost 1-0 on the road. A Brad Marchand pass to the slot redirected off of Jaromir Jagr’s skate and past Martin Brodeur to provide the Bruins with the game’s lone goal. It was the only goal Brodeur allowed on 26 shots against, while Tuukka Rask produced a 40-save shutout for the hosts.
Jersey came out on the wrong side of another one-goal game on Saturday, as they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Leafs. David Clarkson had the Devils’ only goal in the road defeat, as Reimer denied 27 of New Jersey’s 28 shots on net. Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak beat Brodeur in the tilt, as Jersey’ goalie only made 16 saves in the loss. Steve Sullivan, who was acquired from the Coyotes in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, was minus-1 with two PIMs in 17:21 TOI.
The Devils lost again on Sunday, but they did earn a point in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Nathan Gerbe had the lone goal in the shootout, while Ryan Miller denied Sullivan, Patrik Elias, and Travis Zajac. Sullivan had a power-play goal for the visitors, while Mark Fayne’s first goal of 2013 came shorthanded and tied the game with 14:14 left. Tom Kostopoulos, who missed a pair of games with a facial injury from a fight with New York’s Martin, had two PIMs and a shot on net in 10:52 TOI in his return.
Jersey signed defenseman Seth Helgeson to an entry-level deal this week. Selected 114th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Devils, Helgeson spent the last four years at the University of Minnesota and has yet to play for the Albany Devils.
The Devils will host the Bruins tonight and the Sens on Friday before they make a trip to Air Canada Centre to play the Maple Leafs on Monday.