Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Mika Zibanejad made some history and the Philadelphia Flyers are unstoppable right now. The regular season is reaching its end in less than a month now.
The Penguins hit a rough patch the last several weeks but got some very welcome news this week with the return of several key players, most notably John Marino and Brian Dumoulin on defense. John Marino made his presence known immediately when the Penguins hosted the Senators last Tuesday as he scored his sixth of the year only 48 seconds into the 1st period.
Conor Sheary scored once again for the Penguins for the first time in two years and Bryan Rust scored his 25th on the power play as the Pens came out in first for once in this game and led 3-1 after 20 minutes.
Sidney Crosby added his 14th this year late in the 2nd and the Penguins ran away with the game in the 3rd period with a goal from Jason Zucker to go ahead 5-1 before Rust put the exclamation point on this win with two more for the hat trick and the Penguins blew out the Senators 7-3 to begin the month of March.
Pittsburgh headed to Buffalo for a quick road trip before returning back to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Patric Hornqvist played a very big game for the Penguins and got them on the board first with his 16th of year early in the 1st period.
Buffalo would get that back while short handed only a minute later. The Sabres challenged for goalie interference and were handed a delay of game penalty which they scored on. Hockey has a weird way of handling itself.
Marcus Pettersson put the Penguins up 2-1 before the end of the 1st period with his second goal of the year. Hornqvist added another goal on the power play as the only scoring in the 2nd period to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead heading into the 3rd period.
The other Swedish Marcus scored for Buffalo early in the 3rd by Marcus Johansson but Crosby got his 15th of the year minutes later to put the Penguins back ahead by two where the game would finish as the Penguins came out on top 4-2.
Pittsburgh then got to host the Capitals in one of the biggest regular season games in Pittsburgh this year on Saturday afternoon. This game turned into one of the biggest duds of the regular season quickly for the Penguins.
As they seemingly always do in afternoon games, the Penguins spotted the Caps the first goal of the game before watching them score two more in the 1st period to lead 3-0 after 20 minutes.
The 2nd period was much closer as neither team would score and the Penguins had a carryover penalty to start the 3rd period. But the Penguins allowed another shorty only 34 seconds into the 3rd period and the Capitals never looked back despite goals from Crosby and Malkin as they held on for the 5-2 win over the Penguins to close out the week for Pittsburgh.
The Pens are right back at it this afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes who are fighting for the playoff lives right now. It’ll be basically all Metro opponents the rest of the way for the Penguins with only two games left this season not against the Metro. The Penguins finish this week on the road against New Jersey on Tuesday, Columbus on Thursday and in Carolina to close the week on Saturday before returning home to Pittsburgh next Sunday to play the Islanders.
The Capitals have been fighting off some competition the last several weeks and still find themselves at the top of the Metro, but they are tied with the Flyers who just rattled off nine straight wins. Will the Capitals be here in next week’s recap?
The Capitals began last week by closing out a road trip in Minnesota. It was an eventful 1st period as the Wild got the scoring started only three minutes into the game before Alex Ovechkin scored his 44th this season on the power play minutes later. Richard Panik got his eighth this season midway through the 1st to give the Caps a 2-1 lead and Ovechkin added his 45th only 21 seconds later to make it 3-1 after only 11 minutes of hockey. Minnesota wasn’t done in the 1st period when they scored a power play goal two minutes later to make it 3-2, and end the scoring in the 1st period.
Surprisingly no one scored the entire 2nd period.
But Tom Wilson got his 21st of the season only 40 seconds into the 3rd period to give the Capitals a two goal lead. That was vital as the Wild scored once again on the power play with seven minutes left to make it 4-3. But the Capitals would hold on to that lead and finish the Wild off by that 4-3 final score in regulation.
The Capitals returned home three days later to face a Flyers team that was hot on their heels for the Metropolitan lead. Lars Eller got his 16th of the year as the only goal in the 1st period and the Capitals felt good after a hard hitting and intense 1st period that saw some fireworks but not a lot of goals.
The 2nd was even more fireworks but this time featured many goals from the Flyers as well. The Flyers tied the game on the power play and then scored two more before Garnet Hathaway made it 3-2 where it stayed until the 3rd period.
That was as close as the Capitals would get in this one as the Flyers added two more in the 3rd period and downed the Capitals 5-2 on their home ice and the Flyers closed the gap between the two teams in the standings with their victory.
But the Capitals did their best to make his efforts in vain. Carl Hagelin opened the scoring with his eighth of the year, but that was answered by Zibanejad (which will become a theme here pretty quickly.)
Z put the Rangers ahead with his second of the game before Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal for the Capitals to answer that one. Some other guy not named Mika scored for the Rangers to put them ahead 3-2 but Garnet Hathaway answered that one only 16 seconds later to even the score at three heading into the 3rd period.
Z put the Rangers ahead with his third only 12 seconds into the 3rd period, but Ovechkin said it was his time to score some goals with his 46th of the year midway through the 3rd to tie it at four. Z answered that one with his fourth goal of the game, something Ovechkin is all too familiar with.
Ovechkin did his thing and scored his 47th with less than a minute left and Zibanejad accepted the challenge from the greatest goal scorer arguably ever, and one-upped him only 33 seconds into overtime when he left Tom Wilson in his dust and would not be denied his fifth goal of the game to give the Rangers the 6-5 overtime win. Insanity.
The Capitals then headed to Pittsburgh to play in their penultimate game this regular season. The Capitals have been running into some penalty trouble lately and the penalty kill was not killing them off with much success.
But that changed big time in this one as the Capitals gifted the Penguins a 5 on 3 early in the game but denied the Pens a goal and then took the game over after that penalty kill. The Capitals scored three goals in the 1st period from Nic Dowd, Niklas Backstrom and Richard Panik and completely took the life out of PPG Paints Arena.
The 2nd period was just the same for the Capitals as they turned away everything the Penguins could put together, including a penalty shot from Jared McCann on Braden Holtby which he turned aside with ease.
The Capitals went on to continue to write the book on how to play on the road in the 3rd period when Nic Dowd added his second goal of the game while shorthanded only 34 seconds into the 3rd period to put the Capitals ahead 4-0.
Pittsburgh got two goals from Crosby and Malkin to give them signs of life, but T.J. Oshie quickly ended that when he scored less than a minute after Malkin to put the Capitals back ahead by three where they would stay as the game finished 5-2 and the Capitals remain tied for the Metro lead.
The Caps head to Buffalo on Monday before returning home for two games this week against Detroit on Thursday and Chicago on Saturday.
The Flyers ascension up the Metro has been very surprising in many ways. Their offense has catapulted to the top five in goals scored and their goaltending has not been their weakest link as they sit just outside the top 10 in goals allowed as well. They’ve been doing all this without Nolan Patrick this season and there’s been whispers that he could be returning to the team at some point this year. That is still very much in the air and his impact is unknown, but the Flyers definitely seem to be peaking at the right time and getting Patrick back may be just another shot in the arm for them.
They began last week on the road in NYC against the Rangers last Sunday afternoon looking for their sixth win a row. It became obvious early that the Flyers were going to do just that. Their special teams came to play with two power play goals and a short handed goal in the 1st period alone.
New addition Derek Grant scored his 15th of the year for the Flyers early in the 2nd before the Rangers finally got on the board late in the 2nd on the power play but the Flyers answered that with a power pay goal of their own from Travis Konecny to give the Flyers a 5-1 lead going into the 3rd period.
The Rangers did score two power play goals to make it seem much closer and give the Flyers a bit of a fit, but the Flyers came away with the 5-3 win and their sixth in a row.
It was an unexpected battle for the Metropolitan on Wednesday night when the Capitals hosted the Capitals in DC. The Capitals got the only goal of the 1st period but the Flyers had their way in the 2nd period with three straight goals before the Caps got one late to bring it 3-2 Flyers heading into the 3rd.
Ivan Provorov scored his 12th and Scott Laughton added his 13th in the 3rd as the Flyers ran away with this one and made it seven straight and closed the gap between them and the Capitals for the Metro lead.
The Flyers made it eight in a row the next night back in Philadelphia and found themselves tied with the Capitals for the Metro lead when they handled the Hurricanes with relative ease.
The Flyers scored a goal in the 1st and 2nd before the Canes made it interesting three minutes into the 3rd period with their first goal. But the Flyers added two goals in 24 seconds only minutes later and Carter Hart would not allow the Canes to score again as the Flyers won 4-1, making it eight in a row.
Buffalo stood in the Flyers way of making it nine straight on Saturday.
Claude Giroux opened the scoring with his 20th of the year in the 2nd and put the Flyers ahead for good in the 3rd with his 21st and Joel Farabee added his eighth with five minutes left as insurance that the Flyers didn’t need as they held on for the 3-1 win and made it nine straight wins at just the right time for Philadelphia.
In what is now one of the biggest two game stretches of the year in the NHL, the Flyers put their nine game win streak on the line at home against Boston on Tuesday before heading to Tampa to play the Lightning on Thursday. The Flyers then return home for a back-to-back against the Wild on Saturday and the Oilers next Sunday.
The Islanders are slipping away at the moment, but are still very much in the middle of things. They had a very rough week to begin March. It began at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night against Montreal. The Canadiens scored three goals in the 1st period and then a short handed goal midway through the 2nd period to completely take the crowd out of the game.
Brock Nelson finally got the Islanders a goal six minutes into the 3rd, but the Canadiens got that one back with less than five minutes to go ahead by four again. Ryan Pulock scored his eighth on the power play but the Canadiens once again scored a shorthanded goal into an empty net with three minutes left to put the nail in the coffin as the Isles dropped the game 6-2 to the Habs.
The Islanders made a quick trip across the border to play the Senators two nights later. They traded goals in the 1st period and Mathew Barzal put the Islanders up 2-1 early in the 2nd with his 19th of the year. But the Senators scored yet another shorthanded goal against the Islanders and added one more before the end of the 2nd to lead 3-2 going into the 3rd period.
Brady Tkachuk scored his 20th of the year with just over three minutes left to go ahead by two and Ryan Pulock got another goal for the Islanders to make it a nail biting finish. But Ottawa held on and prevailed with the 4-3 regulation win, making it five straight losses for the Islanders.
Carolina was attempting to end a losing skid of their own when the two teams met at Nassau Coliseum Saturday night. The Canes scored the only goal of the 1st period and Ryan Pulock continued his goal scoring streak with his 10th goal this season in the 2nd period to deadlock the game at two heading into the 3rd period.
The Canes scored early in the 3rd but Josh Bailey got the equalizer with his 14th goal with just under five minutes left in the game and the game would head to overtime.
Brady Skjei tripped Mathew Barzal with less than a minute left in regulation and it looked like the Islanders were given a glorious chance to win the game. But Barzal was called for a four minute high sticking penalty less than 30 seconds later, which turned out the be the game deciding play as Vincent Trocheck scored just as the first two minute penalty had ended and the Canes came away on top with the 3-2 overtime win.
The Islanders head out west this week and play three games in four days starting in Vancouver on Tuesday before a back-to-back in Calgary on Thursday and Edmonton on Friday.
The Blue Jackets have been treading water the last few weeks and still managed to hold on to the final wild card spot with a two point cushion over the Hurricanes, but the Canes do have three games in hand. Columbus has one of the lesser busy schedules to begin March in the league but that’s due to several long road trips. Those breaks in between games may be just what the doctor ordered by the looks of their growing injured list.
They began last week at home against the Canucks last Sunday. It didn’t look good for Columbus as they trailed 3-1 going into the 3rd, but it ended much better as Riley Nash scored his fifth of the year to cut the lead in half and then Zach Werenski scored his 20th goal of the year to tie the game at three – his 20 goals are by far the most by a defenseman this year.
Emil Bemstrom put the Jackets ahead on the power play three minutes later on the power play with less than two minutes remaining in the game to complete the comeback and Gustav Nyquist scored the dagger with just over 10 seconds left to seal the deal and give the Jackets a great comeback 5-3 win over the Canucks to begin March.
Columbus then began one of their long road trips in Calgary on Wednesday night. The Jackets scored two goals in the 1st period and held onto that lead for nearly the rest of the game, but the Flames scored two goals in the last nine minutes of the game to tie it and force overtime.
It was a thrilling overtime that saw nine shots on goal. Unfortunately for Columbus, Calgary got six of those and the sixth one was the deciding goal from T.J. Brodie with only 10 seconds remaining in overtime and the Jackets collapsed themselves in this one and watched the Flames skate away with the 3-2 overtime win.
The Jackets closed out their week in Edmonton on Saturday night, and the Jackets were in it for two periods but faded away in the 3rd period. The Oilers led 1-0 going into the 3rd period and then scored two goals a minute apart with less than five minutes remaining in the game to run away with the game.
Gustav Nyquist scored in the third straight game with his 15th of the year, but it was too little, too late as the Oilers were up 3-0 at the time and there was less than a minute remaining. Columbus pulled their goalie and gave up one more with 30 seconds left and fell 4-1.
The Jackets are back in action this evening with a rematch against Vancouver before having a three day break and returning to face off against the Penguins on Thursday. They close out next week against Nashville and Nationwide Arena on Saturday night.
Carolina had a few days of rest before beginning a long road trip and only had two games this week, which was bad news as the rest of the Metro had a much busier week. The Flyers hosted the Canes to begin their week on Thursday night and it wasn’t pretty for the Canes.
Philadelphia scored late in the 1st and midway through the 2nd period before the Canes finally got on board early in the 3rd period with Justin Williams’ fourth of the year to cut the lead to 2-1 with plenty of time left in the game.
However, the Flyers struck twice in 24 seconds only minutes later to completely crush the Canes hopes of tying the game after taking nearly 43 minutes to score one goal. The Flyers were rolling and shut the door the rest of the way and the game would end with the 4-1 final score, the Canes fourth loss in a row.
The Hurricanes began a back-to-back with the Islanders and Penguins on Saturday in Long Island. Justin Williams got the scoring started again for the Hurricanes in this one much earlier with his fifth as the only scoring in the 1st period.
The Isles tied it in the 2nd period and Joel Edmundson put the Canes back ahead with his seventh this season 6:16 into the 3rd period, but the Islanders tied it with five minutes remaining and the game headed to overtime.
The Hurricanes made added some big names at the trade deadline and one of those names finally came through big time for the Canes when Vincent Trocheck scored his first goal with Carolina on the power play to give the Canes a much need 3-2 overtime win to end their week with a win and end their four game skid.
Carolina traveled to Pittsburgh after that game and play this afternoon in a big game for the Metropolitan. It gets a little easier for the Canes as they end their road trip in Detroit on Tuesday and New Jersey on Thursday. But then it’s a quick rematch against the Penguins in Raleigh on Saturday.
In a symmetrical side note, the Canes play every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in March beginning with their game against the Flyers last Thursday.
The Rangers had a terrible week in the standings, but it’s been The Mika Zibanejad Show on Broadway in the Big Apple lately. The Rangers went 1-3 last week but Zibanejad has 21 goals in his last 20 games and scored 9 just last week in only four games.
So instead of recapping the Rangers, I’m just going to recap what Zibanejad did in each game, since he’s basically running the show.
The Rangers fell 5-3 on Sunday to the Flyers, but Zibanejad scored two goals and set up the other.
The Rangers lost 3-1 to the Blues on Tuesday and Zibanejad scored the only goal of the contest for the Rangers.
They defeated the Capitals 6-5 in overtime on Thursday and Zibanejad had FIVE GOALS for the Rangers, including the go ahead goal on FOUR separate occasions.
Zibanejad put the Rangers ahead 2-1 against the Devils on Saturday early in the 1st period and then watched the Devils score four in the 2nd and run away with the game. He only managed one of their four goals in this game, but if you’re keeping up at home he scored 9 of the Rangers 14 goals last year and assisted on another.
Zibanejad has 39 goals and 72 points in only 55 games and has put himself in the spotlight and may be getting some Hart consideration. There is some fierce competition for the award this year and he may not be able to keep up with the race due to games played, but Zibanejad is absolutely having an MVP caliber season for the Rangers.
The Rangers playoff chances took a big hit after last week and they’ll look to rebound on the road this week to the southwest. The Rangers will be in Dallas on Tuesday and Denver on Wednesday night before closing out the week in Arizona on Saturday night.
The Devils have been playing their best hockey of the year. That’s a good sign for their fans to actually have something to cheer about, but at the same time they are only hurting their draft stock by winning this late, but it likely won’t make too much of a difference at the end and it is certainly a boost to their confidence as they now get to play the spoiler, and that’s just what they did last week.
The Devils began with two games on the road out west, with the first taking place on Sunday in Anaheim. Pavel Zacha scored a power play goal in the 1st and 2nd period and Nico Hischier capped off the scoring with his 14th goal late in the 3rd period to down the Ducks and the Devils extended their point streak to six straight games.
Cory Schneider stopped 34 shots and recorded his second shutout in just over a year, despite some otherwise pitiful numbers the last two seasons. Good for him to continue to keep working and be rewarded with a shutout win.
Mackenzie Blackwood was back in net for the Devils two days later in Las Vegas and did everything he could to keep the Devils in the game, but the offense was a no show and did not get a shot past Robin Lehner on the other end, and the Devils fell 3-0 and saw their six game point streak come to and end along with their trip out west.
New Jersey returned to The Rock on Friday to take on yet another western team, facing the St. Louis Blues. New Jersey used a two-goal 2nd period to beat the Blues for the first time in six years. Both teams traded goals in the 1st and 3rd periods and the Devils hung on for the 4-2 victory.
Defenseman Dakota Mermis scored his first career NHL goal for the Devils in the 2nd period and Connor Carrick’s goal in the 2nd period was his first of the season and turned out to be the game winner.
The Devils used another strong 2nd period the next night in New York City when they squared off against the Rangers at Madison Square. The Rangers led 2-1 after 20 minutes, but the Devils got goals from Kyle Palmieri, Fredrik Claesson, Travis Zajac and John Hayden and held off a comeback bid from the Rangers with a 6-4 win to wrap up a very good week for the Devils.
The Devils can play the biggest of spoilers this week with against three teams fighting for playoff positions. The Devils host the Penguins on Tuesday night and then host the Hurricanes on Thursday night. New Jersey then heads to Florida to take on the Panthers on Saturday and the Lightning next Sunday.
39-22-6; 84 pts; 217 Goals For (13th in the NHL; T-13th last week); 188 Goals Against (T-6th; T-7th)
2-1 record last week
Dumoulin and Marino are back and the losing streak is gone. Pens win 7-3
Murray shines, Hornqvist scores twice as Pittsburgh downs Buffalo 4-2
Sluggish Pens fall behind and lose 5-2
Sunday, March 8 – vs CAR; 1:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, March 10 – @ NJD, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – @ CBJ, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – @ CAR, 7 p.m.
- 12/29/19, LW Jake Guentzel – IR; Shoulder surgery
- 2/15/20, LW Zach Aston-Reese – Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
- 2/28/20, RW Dominik Simon – Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 3/2/20, RW Anthony Angello – Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
41-20-7, 89 pts; 238 GF (2nd; 4th); 212 GA (18th; 13th)
2-1-1 record last week
Scuffle in St. Paul Ends in 4-3 Caps Win
Caps Fall Flat In 5-2 Philly Victory
PHI: 6 OT
Ticker Tape Parade to Penalty Box Dooms Caps in 6-5 Overtime Loss
Caps’ Struggles Put on Hold with 5-2 Win in Steel City
Monday, March 9 – @ BUF, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – vs DET, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – vs CHI, 7 p.m.
41-20-7, 89 pts; 232 GF (4th; T-7th); 194 GA (11th)
4-0 record last week
Flyers sweep home and home, win sixth straight over Rangers
Flyers stay red-hot, win seventh-straight in 5-2 win over Capitals
Flyers win 4-1 over Hurricanes, secure eighth straight win
Flyers hold on to beat Sabres, 3-1, win ninth-straight
Tuesday, March 10 – vs BOS, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – @ TBL, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – vs MIN, 1 p.m.
- 9/12/19, C Nolan Patrick – IR; Migraine disorder
- 11/6/19, D Samuel Morin – IR; Torn right ACL
- 12/10/19, LW Oscar Lindblom – IR; Illness
- 3/3/20, LW James van Riemsdyk – Day-to-day; Fractured hand
35-23-9, 79 pts; 188 GF (23rd); 188 GA (T-6th; 4th)
0-2-1 record last week
(The playoffs are) slip slidin’ away
CAR: 3 OT
Bailey’s late goal saves point, Barzal penalty costs another
Tuesday, March 10 – @ VAN, 10 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – @ CGY, 9 p.m.
Friday, March 13 – @ EDM, 9 p.m.
- 1/1/20 – D Adam Pelech – IR; Achilles
- 2/10/20, C Casey Cizikas – IR: Leg laceration
- 3/2/20, D Johnny Boychuk – Day-to-day; Facial injury
- 3/4/20, RW Tom Kuhnhackl – Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
- 3/6/20, RW Cal Clutterbuck – Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
32-22-15, 79 pts; 178 GF (T-26th; 27th); 186 GA (5th; 6th)
1-1-1 record last week
Depleted Blue Jackets rally for surprising comeback victory over Canucks
Jackets fail to put out Flames; get burned in overtime
Blue Jackets with not-so-nice loss in game #69 against Oilers
Sunday, March 8 – @ VAN, 10 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – vs PIT, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – vs NSH, 7 p.m.
- 9/24/19, C Brandon Dubinsky – IR; Wrist
- 12/13/19, RW Josh Anderson – IR; Shoulder
- 12/31/19, C Alexandre Texier – IR; Lumbar stress fracture
- 1/2/20, D Dean Kukan – IR; Torn meniscus
- 2/9/20, RW Cam Atkinson – IR; Sprained ankle
- 2/9/20, D Seth Jones – IR; Fractured ankle
- 2/20/20, RW Oliver Bjorkstrand – Day-to-day; Fractured ankle
- 2/29/20, LW Nathan Gerbe – Day-to-day; Groin
- 3/6/20, D Ryan Murray – Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
36-25-5, 77 pts; 211 GF (T-15th; 12th); 189 GA (T-9th; 8th)
1-1 record last week
Canes fall to streaking Flyers
CAR: 3 OT
Trocheck’s First Canes Goal is OT Winner; Geekie Recalled
Sunday, March 8 – @ PIT, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 10 – @ DET, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – @ NJD, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – vs PIT, 7 p.m.
- 1/15/20, D Dougie Hamilton – IR; Fractured fibula
- 2/2/20, D Sami Vatanen – IR; Leg
- 2/21/20, G James Reimer – Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
- 2/21/20, D Brett Pesce – IR; Shoulder
- 2/21/20, G Petr Mrazek – Day-to-day; Concussion
36-28-4, 76 pts; 228 GF (7th; 9th); 217 GA (T-25th; T-14th)
1-3 record last week
Rangers Fall Behind Early and Lose 5-3 to Philadelphia
Rangers Lose Third Straight With 3-1 Loss to St. Louis
NYR: 6 OT
Zibanejad’s Five (!!!) Goals Lead Rangers to Dramatic Win Against Caps
Rangers Score Early But Give Up Four Unanswered In 6-4 Loss
Tuesday, March 10 – @ DAL, 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11 – @ COL, 10 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – @ ARI, 9 p.m.
- 2/7/20, LW Michael Haley – IR; Bilateral core muscle
- 2/27/20, LW Chris Kreider – Day-to-day; Fractured foot
28-28-12, 68 pts; 187 GF (T-24th; T-26th); 225 GA (27th)
3-1 record last week
New Jersey Devils Smoked Shesterkin & Spoiled the New York Rangers, 6-4
Tuesday, March 10 – vs PIT, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 12 – vs CAR, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 14 – @ FLA, 7 p.m.