Atlantic Watch: Flyers Surging, Islanders continue point streak, Rangers hanging on to playoff spot, Devils’ skid reaches 10 games

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After putting themselves in a very big hole, the Philadelphia Flyers ended this week with two emphatic wins to show that they could be a playoff team. It might be too little too late, but the Orange and Black will carry their two-game winning streak into their upcoming seven-day stretch.

Philly started the week with a 3-1 loss at home to the Ottawa Senators. Colin Greening put home the decisive tally with 5:36 remaining, as Robin Lehner made 24 stops in the win. Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves in the loss, while Claude Giroux potted the Flyers’ lone goal on a penalty kill in the first period to tie the game at one. The loss marked the third straight game Philly only registered one goal.

On Saturday, the Flyers dropped a 1-0 decision on the road to the Buffalo Sabres. Jhonas Enroth recorded his first shutout of the year with 29 saves, while Christian Ehrhoff’s fluky goal in the opening minute of the third period was the difference. Steve Mason earned the loss despite making several amazing saves in his 20-save performance. Danny Briere, who returned after missing 10 games with a concussion, had three shots on net and one off the crossbar at the end of the game in 18:51 TOI.

After they scored just three goals during their four-game losing streak, Philly poured seven goals on Carey Price in Montreal in the Flyers’ 7-3 win over the Canadiens on Monday. Scott Hartnell had a hat trick, while both Jakub Voracek and Giroux had three-point games, as Price stopped 23 of 29 in 40 minutes of work. Kimmo Timonen and Wayne Simmonds both had two-assist games, while Bryzgalov made 25 saves for the victory. Unfortunately for Philly, Kent Huskins suffered a concussion in the win due to a charge from Ryan White that was aimed towards the blue liner’s head. Kurtis Foster jumped to Huskins’ aid and earned a fighting major against White.

To cap off their week, the Orange and Black beat the Rangers 4-2 at the Wells Fargo Center last night. Timonen had a goal and an assist, while Giroux had two helpers in the Flyers’ second win this year against the Blueshirts. Mason earned his first win as a member of his new team with a 38-save night, while Jay Rosehill dropped the gloves with former Flyer Arron Asham. Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan potted goals in the loss for New York, while Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals on 21 shots against. Brandon Manning, who suited up for his first game with Philly this season, recorded his first NHL point with the primary assist on Brayden Schenn’s goal in the first period.

The Orange and Black also signed Petr Straka to a three-year entry-level contract. Picked 55th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2010 NHL Draft, Straka had 41 goals and 41 assists in 55 games with Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL. He’s currently third in scoring in the QMJHL playoffs with 18 points in eight games.

The Flyers will play three of their final five games over the next seven days. After they host the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night, the Orange and Black will travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes. The Flyers will return to Philadelphia to host the Bruins on Tuesday.

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Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-0-0. The Penguins are enjoying another winning streak, as they have won their last four contests. With a seven-point lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the conference, Pittsburgh will look to clinch the Eastern Conference this week.

The Pens won their first game of the week with a 6-3 decision over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. Jussi Jokinen had two goals and Pascal Dupuis had one goal, but both players had three-point performances, while Tomas Vokoun posted his third victory in a four-decision span with 16 saves. Although Kris Letang returned to the lineup after missing six games due to a lower-body injury, and posted an assist, Evgeni Malkin left the tilt with an upper-body injury and didn’t play on Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

Against the Panthers, the Pens made it four straight wins with a 3-1 victory over the Southeast Division club in Florida. Brenden Morrow had two goals and an assist on Letang’s tally for a three-point performance to help Marc-Andre Fleury post the 25-save win. Beau Bennett provided two helpers in the victory, while the lone goal scorer for the Cats was Scottie Upshall.

On top of their pair of wins, the Penguins signed goaltender Eric Hartzell. Signed through the rest of 2013, Hartzell was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and led Quinnipiac University to the NCAA Tournament Final, where the Bobcats fell to the Yale Bulldogs. Hartzell posted a 1.57 GAA and .933 save percentage in 42 games this year.

Pittsburgh will get their fill of the Northeast Division over the next seven days starting with a visit from the Montreal Canadiens tonight to the CONSOL Energy Center. After a game against the Bruins in Boston on Friday, the Pens return home to host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Pittsburgh will conclude the seven-day span with a tilt against the Ottawa Senators on Monday at Scotiabank Place.

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New York Islanders: 2-0-1. The Islanders are sitting in seventh as they earned points in all three of their games this week to extend their point streak to eight games. The Isles will endure the first half of their season-concluding five-game road trip.

New York won their third straight game on Thursday with a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Josh Bailey recorded a two-goal game, while Evgeni Nabokov denied 30 of the 31 shots he faced for his third straight win. Mark Streit had a two-assist performance, while both Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. The decision marked the Isles’ first win of their point streak where they won by a margin of one goal.

The Islanders lost the battle of New York on Saturday, as the Rangers edged out a 1-0 decision in overtime at Nassau Coliseum. Dan Girardi’s second goal of 2013 was all Lundqvist needed for his first shutout of the year with 29 saves. Michael Del Zotto and Derick Brassard had helpers on the game’s lone goal, as Nabokov suffered the defeat with 19 saves on 20 shots. The loss marked the fourth time this season the Islanders were shut out.

New York finished their week with a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers in their last home game of 2013. Michael Grabner had two goals and Streit had a goal and a helper, as Nabokov stopped 26 of 28. With their fifth goal coming just 3:33 into the middle frame, the Islanders forced Jacob Markstrom out of the crease after he stopped 13 of 18. Scott Clemmensen denied all 13 of the shots he saw to let the Panthers lose by three. Dmitry Kulikov and Marcel Goc scored for the visitors.

The Islanders start their five-game road trip with games in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Thursday, Winnipeg on Saturday against the Jets, and Carolina on Tuesday against the Hurricanes.

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New York Rangers: 1-1-1. The Rangers are hanging on to the eighth spot with just six games left. Fortunately for New York, all six of their games come against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Before their overtime win against the Islanders and loss to the Flyers, the Rangers started the week with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Maple Leafs last Wednesday. Zuccarello had the lone goal in the shootout, while Lundqvist kept all three of the Leafs from converting on their turns. Carl Hagelin and Ryan McDonagh potted goals 5:48 apart to grab a 2-1 advantage, but Kessel’s second goal of the game made it 2-2 with 11:55 left in regulation. Ryane Clowe and Mark Fraser dropped the gloves in the win.

The Blueshirts start their four-game week with a contest against the Panthers at MSG tomorrow night. After a tilt against the Sabres at the First Niagara Center on Friday, the Rangers return home to take on the Devils on Sunday. New York hits the road again to visit the Panthers on Tuesday.

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New Jersey Devils: 0-3-0. Things are just getting worse for the Devils. Still looking for their first win in April, Jersey hasn’t scored a goal in their last 120:37 of competition. The Devils will look to end their 10-game losing streak over the next seven days with two games at home and two on the road.

New Jersey nearly ended their losing stretch last Wednesday, but they fell just short in their 5-4 loss to the Bruins at the Prudential Center. After Boston gained a 4-0 lead, the Devils scored four of the final five tallies to suffer the one-goal defeat. Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, and Matt D’Agostini all recorded goals in the loss, while Martin Brodeur allowed five goals on 18 shots. Bryce Salvador, who was minus-1 in the defeat, was injured in the contest and hasn’t played since, as he is listed as day-to-day with a wrist injury. In addition to the injury, Anton Volchenkov laid an elbow on Brad Marchand that earned him a four-game suspension.

The Devils were shut out on Friday by Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators. Anderson stopped all 33 shots he faced, while Brodeur managed just nine saves on the 11 shots he saw. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Milan Michalek potted Ottawa’s goals, as the Devils lost for a ninth straight time.

Brodeur embarrassed himself and his team again on Monday when the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Devils in Canada 2-0. James Reimer posted a 32-save shutout, while Brodeur made 11 saves on 12 shots. Phil Kessel and Jay McClement had the goals for the Leafs. Jersey was shut out for the second straight contest and the third time during their losing streak.

The Devils hope a meeting with the Flyers in Philly tomorrow night will end their losing streak. New Jersey than hosts the Panthers on Saturday before making a trip to Madison Square Garden on Sunday to play the Rangers. The week concludes with a game in Jersey against the Canadiens.