The Penguins pulled off another winning week and find themselves tied with the Hurricanes for third in the Metropolitan, but are currently in the first Wild Card position due to tiebreakers. The Penguins began last week against the Florida Panthers at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday. The game was tied at two going into overtime before Jake Guentzel scored his 33rd goal of the year, and second of the game, to knock off the Panthers by a final of 3-2 in overtime. Matt Murray added 32 saves to preserve the win for the Penguins in that contest. The Pens then hosted the Blue Jackets two nights later and Matt Murray stopped all 25 shots he faced and Phil Kessel ended his career longest 16 game goal drought with a power play goal two minutes into the game that would go on to be the game winner. Sidney Crosby scored an empty net goal in the game to extend his goal scoring streak to six games. The Blue Jackets returned the favor two nights later in Columbus in a much needed 4-1 victory for the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets won their first game against Pittsburgh in nine tries behind a 32 save performance from Sergei Bobrovsky and a two goal game from Cam Atkinson. His first goal came two minutes into the 2nd period while shorthanded to give the Jackets a 2-0 lead that they would never surrender.
The Penguins are in the middle of an 11 game stretch in 21 days that began last week against Florida. They will play at home today against the Boston Bruins who have registered points now in 19 straight games going 15-0-4 during that stretch. The Penguins will then play a highly anticipated game at home against the Capitals on Tuesday before heading to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. The Penguins close this week out with an afternoon game at PPG against the Blues on Saturday.
The Capitals went undefeated for the second straight week and now own a two point cushion over the rest of the Metropolitan. The Capitals played the bottom three teams in the Metro, and feasted on the competition to regain the Metropolitan crown again. The Capitals were at MSG on Sunday to take on the Rangers and needed a shootout to dispel the Rangers in the fourth round. Alex Ovechkin is so intimidating to goalies that he doesn’t even need to shoot to score a goal. That mistake by Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev secured the 3-2 shootout victory for the Capitals. The Capitals were in Philly two nights later and scored five goals in the first 25:37 before allowing the Flyers to score three of their own but it was too little, too late and the Capitals won 5-3. The Devils were in DC on Friday night and tried their best, but their best wasn’t close to enough, as the Capitals shut them out 3-0 behind 25 saves from Braden Holtby. Andre Burakovsky scored three minutes in and that was as close as the Devils got in that game. That win makes six in a row for the Capitals and they now sit in first place in the Metropolitan with 87 points.
The Capitals are in action this evening against the Winnipeg Jets in DC. The Capitals will then hit the road for the next three games against some tough opponents. The Penguins and Capitals meet again in Pittsburgh on Tuesday in one of the NHL’s best rivalries. The Flyers will then welcome the Capitals to the eastern side of the state on Thursday before the Capitals fly down to Tampa to face the Lightning in their first meeting since the Capitals eliminated the Lightning in Game 7 of the ECF last season. The Capitals and Lightning will face each other three times in the next three weeks.
The Islanders surrendered their lead in the Metro to the Capitals and split their week with two wins against the Senators and two losses against the Flyers. Strong goaltending has been the Islanders backbone this season, and it failed them twice against the Flyers last week - both on home ice. The Flyers were in Long Island on Sunday and jumped out to a 4-0 lead a little over halfway through that game before the Islanders added one late to make it a 4-1 final. The Flyers were back in Long Island on Saturday and again jumped all over the Islanders and led 5-1 in the 2nd period before finishing off the Isles 5-2. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss were both pulled in the two games.
Fortunately for the Islanders, they played the Senators in a home-and-home starting in Long Island Tuesday night. Barry Trotz won his 800th NHL game, but the Islanders allowed the Senators to tie it at four with two 3rd period goals before a shootout decided the winner. Robin Lehner stopped 21 shots before he was injured in a collision with Brady Tkachuk and has not played since. Thomas Greiss took over and stopped both shots he faced in regulation and also the shootout to win it for the Islanders by a final of 5-4. Greiss got the start two nights later in Ottawa and made 35 saves while the Islanders outscored Ottawa 2-0 in the 3rd period to sweep the Sens in the home-and-home by the final of 4-2 in that game.
The Islanders will play the Blue Jackets at Nassau Coliseum on Monday in a Metropolitan Division matchup that could have a ripple effect throughout the division. The Isles will host the Habs on Thursday night again at Nassau before the Red Wings will host the Islanders to close out next week for New York on Saturday afternoon.
It was a rough week last week for Carolina, but it ended on a positive. They kicked off last week on the road in Boston, who entered the game 12-0-4 in their last 16 games. Sebastian Aho scored the games first two goals with the second goal early in the 2nd period. Boston would then score the next two in the 2nd period and add another early in the 3rd period to lead 3-2. Justin Williams scored with 7 minutes remaining to force overtime and David Krejci scored two minutes in to extend Boston’s point streak to 17 games. Things got very ugly for the Canes at home on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets scored four 1st period goals and two more in the games final minute to demolish the Hurricanes by a final score of 8-1. Curtis McElhinney was hung out to dry and surrendered all 8 goals on 29 shots. The Canes were saving Petr Mrazek for their game the following night in Nashville. Nino Niederreiter scored two 1st period goals and the Hurricanes outscored the Predators 3-2 in the 3rd period to hang on to a 5-3 win for the Hurricanes to close out last week on a winning note and they stay in third place in the Metro, tied with Pittsburgh with 81 points.
The Hurricanes continue their road trip this week starting in Denver on Monday night and have a three day break before taking on the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Friday night in what could be a pivotal game for both teams. The Hurricanes will then take on the Sabres at home the next night. That game will begin a five game home stand for the Hurricanes and 7 out of their next 8 games will take place at home.
Things have not been going the way the Blue Jackets were hoping this month. Columbus improved their team on paper with trades across the board, but have not been getting the results they expected. The Jackets hosted the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday to begin last week. Sergei Bobrovsky will be seeing Blake Wheeler in his nightmares as the Jets forward played one of the best games of his life against Bob in that contest. The game was tied at two after two periods before Blake Wheeler took the game over. He scored his second and third goal of the game in the 3rd period against Bobrovsky before adding a fourth goal into an empty net as the Jets closed out the Jackets 5-2 on Sunday at Nationwide Arena. Columbus was in New Jersey two nights later in what should have been one of their easiest games for Columbus the remainder of this season. However, the Devils made life even more difficult for Columbus. The Blue Jackets only managed 18 shots on goal in 65 minutes of hockey, but managed to come away with the 2-1 shootout victory.
The Jackets may have been looking past the Devils that night and may have been thinking about the home-and-home series with Pittsburgh following that game. The first game against the Pens was on Thursday night and Matt Murray put on a show in Pittsburgh. The Penguins scored a goal in each period while Columbus didn’t score in any and were shutout in Pittsburgh 3-0 on Thursday night. Sergei Bobrovsky got the start in the next game in Columbus on Saturday, and finally managed to close the door on the Penguins. Cam Atkinson’s shorthanded goal, his 37th of the season, turned out to be the deciding goal in that game as Bobrovsky made 28 saves and the Jackets would end up with the 4-1 victory. Cam Atkinson would add another goal to give him 38 this season.
It’s going to be a rough road for Columbus the rest of the way. This week features two sets of back-to-backs with a Metro opponent the first night and the Boston Bruins on the back end for both series. The Jackets will be in Long Island on Monday night before returning home to face Boston on Tuesday. The Jackets will then host the Hurricanes in Columbus on Friday before taking on the Bruins in Boston the next night. It’s going to be a tough week for the Jackets, but they are still very much in the middle of the Wild Card race.
The Flyers playoff picture may be fading, but they can still play the role of spoiler. This week was a perfect example of that, as they faced the Islanders twice and also the Capitals. The Flyers were in Long Island to begin last week on Sunday to face the Islanders. The Flyers scored early and often and found themselves ahead 4-0 late in the 2nd period. The Islanders would score one late in the 3rd period, but the Flyers controlled most of the game and defeated the Islanders 4-1 for their 16th win in the last 21 games. The Flyers returned home on Wednesday night to play the Capitals before heading back out to Long Island on Saturday. The Capitals game was the exact opposite of the Islanders game for the Flyers, as they were down 5-0 early in the 2nd period before scoring three in a row to make it a much closer final score of 5-3 than the game actually was. The Islanders again hosted the Flyers on Saturday and scored the first goal of the game in the 1st period before the Flyers scored five in a row to lead 5-1 at the 2nd intermission. The Islanders would add another goal late in the 3rd, but the Flyers never let them get back in it and held on for the 5-2 victory. The Flyers scored 9 goals in two games against the league’s best defensive team last week and aren’t completely out of the Wild Card race. The Flyers have been one of the best teams the last two months, and find themselves five points out of a Wild Card position.
While the rest of the league has been playing games nearly every other day, the Flyers have had a somewhat light schedule this month. The Flyers will have another somewhat light workload compared the rest of the league this week again. The Flyers will host the Senators on Monday and will have two days to prepare for the Capitals on Thursday night in Philadelphia. The Flyers will then fly into Toronto for a back-to-back against the Maple Leafs on Friday to close out the week. The Flyers will play only five games in 13 days to begin March before playing eight games in 12 days starting with the Capitals game on Thursday.
The Rangers have gone full rebuild for the remainder of the season and have been giving their prospects big roles to see what they’re capable of and learning the ways of the NHL. The Rangers began last week at home against the Capitals, and the game would need a shootout to decide the winner. It was one of the most unconventional ways to lose a game for the Rangers, as Alex Ovechkin never got a shot off, but Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev was deemed to throw his stick in Ovechkin’s direction and knocked the puck away from him, resulting in an automatic goal for Ovechkin and the win for the Capitals. The Rangers were in Dallas on Tuesday and never got going in that game. Dallas defenseman John Klingberg scored his ninth goal this season early in the 2nd period and that would be all the scoring in this game as Ben Bishop made 28 saves and the Rangers were shut out at American Airlines Arena. The Rangers flew to the north side of the country to take on the Red Wings in Detroit two days later. Pavel Buchnevich would score his second goal of the game to tie it at two with five minutes remaining in the 3rd period, but the Rangers would fall in a shooutout, ending the Red Wings’ eight game losing streak. The Rangers and Devils met on Saturday night in New York City in a battle of the bottom two teams in the Metro. The Rangers allowed the games first two goals before scoring the final four - with three coming in the 3rd period - to defeat the Devils 4-2 in front of the MSG faithful.
The Rangers will now head to the other side of the continent to face the western Canadian teams this week. They kick off the road trip in Edmonton on Monday before facing Vancouver on Wednesday. The Flames will host the Rangers on Friday. I’m not sure what the NHL schedule makers were thinking, but they scheduled the Rangers to play a back-to-back Saturday night in Minnesota after playing in Calgary on Friday. That game against the Wild could be a one-sided game with the current state of the Rangers to go with the rigorous travel the Rangers will be dealing with next week.
The Devils had another long week to go along with their long season. The Devils were the only team in the Metro to go winless and all three losses came against Metropolitan opponents. It started in Newark on Tuesday night when the Devils hosted the Blue Jackets. Cory Schneider only faced 18 shots and stopped 17 of them, but allowed both Columbus shooters to score in the shootout while Sergei Bobrovsky turned both of his shots aside for the victory for Columbus. The Devils were then in DC on Friday night to take on the Capitals and their scoring woes continued in that game. Braden Holtby stopped all 25 shots he faced and the Capitals scored a powerplay and shorthanded goal in the 3rd period to close out the Devils 3-0. The Devils were in New York City the next day to face the Rangers. The Devils scored two goals in the 1st period but that was the end of the good times for the Devils. The Rangers would tie the game at two early in the 3rd period before running away with the 4-2 victory at MSG.
The Devils will also be touring northwest Canada as well next week. They have a back-to-back scheduled in Calgary on Tuesday night and Edmonton on Wednesday. New Jersey gets one day of travel time to prepare for Vancouver on Friday night to close out next week, but their road trip continues into Colorado next Sunday for their fourth game in six days. It’s not going to get any prettier for the Devils, who may be embracing the “Lose for Hughes” sweepstakes.
The seeding the Metro could completely change or stay exactly the same for another week. There are no easy games any more, and the Metro will probably be a guessing game until the final minute of the regular season. This is the most exciting and nerve racking time of the year as scoreboard watching and rooting for enemies against enemies is a nightly occurrence.
As always, thanks for reading again this week. Be sure to check back next week and don’t forget to vote for your game of the week!
36-23-9; 81 pts; 233 Goals For (6th in the NHL; 5th last week); 208 Goals Against (16th; T-16th)
2-1 record last week
PIT: 3 OT
Jake Guentzel does it again! Pittsburgh wins as first line shines
Pittsburgh, Murray shuts out rival Columbus in resounding 3-0 win
Jackets Finally Overcome Pens, Stay Alive With 4-1 Win
Sunday, March 10 - vs BOS, 7:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, March 12 - vs WSH, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 14 - @ BUF, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 - vs STL, 1 p.m.
- 2/11/19, D Olli Maatta - IR; Upper-body injury
- 2/23/19, D Kris Letang - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 2/25/19, D Chad Ruhwedel - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 2/25/19, RW Bryan Rust - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
40-21-7, 87 pts; 234 GF (5th; 6th); 211 GA (T-18th; T-20th)
3-0 record last week
WSH: 3 SO
Caps Grab The Extra Point In 3-2 Shootout Win
Hang Five On The Flyers, Stave Off Comeback Bid En Route To 5-3 Victory
Burakovsky Continues Exorcism, Washington Wins 3-0
Sunday, March 10 - vs WPG, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 12 - @ PIT, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 14 - @ PHI, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 - @ TBL, 7 p.m.
39-22-7, 85 pts; 198 GF (T-19th; 23rd); 168 GA (1st)
2-2 record last week
Out of sorts, out of first
NYI: 5 SO
Lehner hurt in uncomfortable shootout win
Two needed points in Ottawa
Isles in giving mood on Torrey tribute night
Monday, March 11 - vs CBJ - 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 14 - vs MTL, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 - @ DET, 1 p.m.
- 3/2/19, RW Cal Clutterbuck - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 3/4/19, G Robin Lehner - Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
37-24-1, 81 pts; 205 GF (T-16th; 16th); 191 GA (9th; 5th)
1-1-1 record last week
BOS: 4 OT
Whalers come back, fall 4-3 in OT
I’m only here so I don’t get fined
Hurricanes 5 - Predators 3
Monday, March 11 - @ COL, 9 p.m.
Friday, March 15 - @ CBJ, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 - vs BUF, 7 p.m.
- 3/8/19, LW Michael Ferland - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
38-27-3, 79 pts; 209 GF (T-13th; T-11th); 202 GA (T-13th; 14th)
2-2 record last week
The Season is Over
Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 0
Columbus Blue Jackets Save Playoff Dreams, Defeat Pittsburgh Penguins
Monday, March 11 - @ NYI, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 12 - vs BOS, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 15 - vs CAR, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 - @ BOS, 7 p.m.
- 2/17/19, D Ryan Murray - IR; Upper-body injury
33-27-8, 74 pts; 209 GF (T-13th; 15th); 226 GA (26th)
2-1 record last week
Brian Elliott and the Travii lead the Flyers past the Islanders, 4-1
If you love me, let me go
Not all heroes are sandwiches
Monday, March 11 - vs OTT, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 14 - vs WSH, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 15 - @ TOR, 7 p.m.
- 1/3/19, G Michal Neuvirth - IR; Lower-body injury
- 2/22/19, G Carter Hart - Day-to-day; Ankle
28-28-12, 68 pts; 196 GF (21st; T-19th); 224 GA (25th)
1-1-2 record last week
WSH: 3 SO
Rangers Fall to Capitals in the Shootout
Rangers Shutout by Dallas and Drop Fifth Straight Game
DET: 3 SO
Buchnevich Goals Not Enough as Rangers Fall in Shootout
Rangers Complete the Comeback Against New Jersey
Monday, March 11 - @ EDM, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, March 13 - @ VAN, 10 p.m.
Friday, March 15 - @ CGY, 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 - @ MIN, 8 p.m.
- 3/8/19, RW Connor Brickley - Day-to-day; Illness
- 3/9/19, D Libor Hajek - Day-to-day; Separated shoulder
25-35-9, 59 pts; 191 GF (T-24th; 18th); 232 GA (T-27th; 29th)
0-2-1 record last week
CBJ: 2 SO
Shorthanded New Jersey Devils Edged in a Shootout by Sluggish Columbus Blue Jackets
Tuesday, March 12 - @ CGY, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, March 13 - @ EDM, 9:30 p.m.
Friday, March 15 - @ VAN, 10 p.m.
- 12/26/18, LW Taylor Hall - IR; Lower-body injury
- 2/16/19, C Pavel Zacha - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 2/24/19, LW Miles Wood - Day-to-day; Fractured ankle
- 2/26/19, D Mirco Mueller - Day-to-day; Shoulder
- 3/2/19, C Nico Hischier - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 3/3/19, RW Nathan Bastian - Day-to-day; Undisclosed injury
- 3/4/19, RW Jesper Bratt - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
- 3/4/19, D Sami Vatanen - Day-to-day; Illness
- 3/7/19, C Kevin Rooney - Day-to-day; Illness
- 3/8/19, LW John Quenneville - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
- 3/8/19, RW Stefan Noesen - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
3.10.19 - WPG @ WSH, 7 p.m. ET
3.10.19 - BOS @ PIT, 7:30 p.m.
3.11.19 - CBJ @ NYI, 7 p.m.
3.12.19 - WSH @ PIT, 7 p.m.
3.12.19/3.16.19 - BOS @ CBJ, 7 p.m. / CBJ @ BOS, 7 p.m.
3.14.19 - WSH @ PHI, 7 p.m.
3.14.19 - MTL @ NYI, 7 p.m.
3.15.19 - CAR @ CBJ, 7 p.m.
3.16.19 - WSH @ TBL, 7 p.m.