The Penguins have been on fire since the calendar turned to March, which has been the Penguins modus operandi in the Sidney Crosby Era. Last week was nearly a perfect week before the Blues rained on the Penguins parade. The Penguins began last week against the Boston Bruins who were 15-0-4 in their 19 previous games. The Penguins seemed unimpressed by that fact and scored two 1st period goals and never let the Bruins back into the game as Matt Murray made 39 saves and the Penguins would go on to win by a final of 4-2 in that game.
The next game loomed as large as the Bruins game as the Washington Capitals were next on the schedule and were winners of seven straight contests heading into that game. The Capitals controlled play for the first half of that game and were leading 2-0 midway through the game before the Penguins’ big guns made their presence known. Jake Guentzel would score the Penguins’ first goal of the game 12:37 into the 2nd period before Crosby would add two more with all three goals taking place in less than two minutes of game time. Phil Kessel would add a power play goal early in the 3rd period that would seal the deal as the Penguins defeated the Capitals 5-3. Jared McCann, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby, and Justin Schultz all had multiple points in that game. Evgeni Malkin will remember this game for the rest of his life as he joined the elite 1,000 point club in that game. Not bad for the 101st Greatest Player in the history of the NHL.
It doesn’t take much for professional athletes to be ready for big games like the Bruins and Capitals game, but it’s sometimes a different story when a team playing for a playoff spot meets a team just finishing up their season and securing a high draft pick. The Buffalo Sabres have been a thorn in the Penguins’ side this season and the two teams met after the emotional Bruins and Capitals games. This time, the Sabres were outplayed from the opening faceoff and Casey DeSmith stopped all 26 shots he faced for his fourth career shutout as the Penguins defeated the Sabres 5-0 on Thursday night in Buffalo.
The week had been going as good as Pens fans could have hoped for until St. Louis came to Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. The Blues scored two 1st period goals and two more in only three minutes of the 2nd period before Matt Murray was removed. The Penguins never had an answer for Blues goalie Jordan Binnington and the Blues would go on to win that contest 5-1 to keep the Penguins alone in 3rd place in the Metro, two points behind the Islanders and four points behind the Capitals.
This week features even more pivotal matchups for the Penguins, starting with the Flyers this evening at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins will then hit the road starting with Carolina in a game that could dramatically impact the playoff race in the Metro. The Penguins will then be in Nashville on Thursday night in another rivalry game with the Predators who are battling for 1st place in the Central Division. The road trip continues into Dallas on Saturday night before the Penguins play in NYC next Monday night before the Penguins get a much needed three day break.
The Capitals had a week full of tough matchups and split the four games with two wins and two losses. They began last week at home against the Winnipeg Jets. Pheonix Copley was in net and made 33 saves as the Capitals scored a goal in each period to defeat the Jets by a final of 3-1 last Sunday. The next game was another chapter in the Crosby vs Ovechkin rivalry in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Alex Ovechkin would record his 1,200th career point on John Carlson’s goal in the 3rd period, but the Penguins would score four straight goals after trailing 2-0 and defeated the Capitals by a final score of 5-3. The Capitals then traveled to the other side of Pennsylvania to take on the Flyers and jumped out to a 4-1 lead midway through that game before holding off the Flyers for a 5-2 victory in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The Capitals were in Tampa on Saturday night after the Flyers game in the first meeting between the two teams since their epic Eastern Conference Finals series last spring. The two teams picked up right where they left off in a fast-paced, high-action, and hard hitting game. The Lightning would score three 1st period goals and would never trail in the game despite a strong effort from the Capitals to tie the game. Ovechkin would score two goals to bring is goal total to 48 for the year, but Alex Killorn would record his first career hat trick with an empty net goal to finish the Capitals before Yanni Gourde added another empty net goal with under two seconds left to make the final 6-3 in a game that was much closer than the score would suggest.
The Capitals will have two days off before taking on the Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday before facing the Tampa Bay Lightning again, this time at Capital One Arena. The Capitals and Lightning will face each other three times in three weeks with the final meeting taking place in Tampa on March 30th. The Capitals will close out this week against Minnesota at home on Friday night.
The Islanders played in only three games last week, and all three games were low scoring which is just the way Barry Trotz wanted them to be. Their first game last week was at home against the Blue Jackets. Thomas Greiss would make 31 saves and Ryan Pulock’s eighth goal of the game six minutes into the game would be all the offense the Islanders needed as they shut out the Blue Jackets 2-0 at Nassau Coliseum on Monday night. The Islanders hosted the Canadiens at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night and two goals would again be enough for the Isles as Thomas Greiss stopped 33 out of 34 Montreal shots and Anders Lee scored his 25th goal with just under three minutes left in regulation to defeat the Canadiens 2-1. The Islanders began a back-to-back on Saturday against Detroit in a game that the Islanders needed to win to tie the Capitals for first place in the Metro. Detroit had other plans and played one of their best defensive games this year and defeated the Islanders 2-1 behind Jonathan Bernier’s 41 saves. The Islanders outshot the Red Wings 42-22 in the game but gave up the game winning goal in the 2nd period to lose to the Red Wings to end the Wings’ four game losing streak.
The Islanders will play a game at least every other day until April starting with the Minnesota Wild this evening on the back end of a back-to-back in Minnesota. The Islanders will then return home to Nassau Coliseum to play the Bruins on Tuesday night before heading to the road again. The Canadiens will host the Islanders on Thursday in an important game before the Flyers host the Islanders on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia in the first game of a back-to-back with the Coyotes waiting for the Islanders to return back to Long Island next Sunday.
The Hurricanes dropped back into the Wild Card as the Penguins pulled ahead by two points in the standings after being tied with 81 points each last week. The Canes started last week in Colorado and Petr Mrazek stole a game for the Hurricanes over the Avs making 38 saves, and none of them were easy as the Hurricanes shut out the Avalance 3-0 on Monday night. The Hurricanes had three days of rest to prepare for the Blue Jackets on Friday night in Columbus. The Hurricanes were clearly the better team in that one, but the better team doesn’t always win in the NHL and the Hurricanes were a perfect example of that. The Canes fired off 46 shots on Sergei Bobrovsky who turned all 46 aside as the Blue Jackets shut out the Hurricanes by a 3-0 final. Carolina returned home the next night to face the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Skinner would score against his old team to open the scoring in that game before Carolina scored four straight and Curtis McElhinney would record 35 saves as the Hurricanes defeated the Sabres 4-2. That win would bring the Hurricanes to two points behind the Penguins for 3rd in the Metro and give them a one point lead over Columbus for the final Wild Card spot.
The Sabres game was the beginning of a five game home stand and seven out of their next eight will come at PNC Arena. The Penguins are next on the schedule on Tuesday night in Raleigh in another very important game, not just for Pittsburgh and Carolina, but also the rest of the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes will have another tough test when the Tampa Bay Lightning will be in town on Thursday night. They Canes will close out next week against Minnesota on Saturday night in the first game of a back-to-back with Montreal in town the following night that could also have major playoff implications.
The Blue Jackets had a strange schedule this week. It featured two sets of back-to-backs with a Metro opponent in the first game and the Boston Bruins in the second half of each set. The games also alternated home and away. Their first set started on Monday on Long Island and Thomas Greiss stood tall to record his fifth shutout this year as the Islanders bottled up the Blue Jackets and defeated them by a final of 2-0. The Jackets’ offense came to life the following night in Boston as the Jackets out-dueled the Bruins behind Boone Jenner’s first career hat trick as the Jackets won 7-4 over Boston at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night. The Jackets then hosted the Hurricanes on Friday in a very pivotal matchup. Sergei Bobrovsky absolutely stole the show in that game as the Blue Jackets were dominated by the Canes but Bobrovsky stood on his head and made 46 saves to shut out the Hurricanes 3-0 on Friday night. The Blue Jackets were outshot 32-6 in the 2nd and 3rd period but Bobrovsky had the answer the whole night and the Blue Jackets needed him to be their best player, which he was. The Blue Jackets were in Boston the next night and the Bruins would get their revenge after losing to the Jackets on Tuesday. The Bruins didn’t score 7 goals like Columbus did to them as the game was a low scoring affair that needed overtime to decide the winner. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 31 out of 32 shots before Brad Marchand would score on the Bruins’ 33rd shot of the game in overtime to knock off the Blue Jackets by a final of 2-1. That point for the Blue Jackets pulled them to within one point of Carolina for the first Wild Card and gave them an 8 point cushion over the Flyers for the last playoff position.
The Jackets are headed to western Canada this week and the schedule makers gave them all the time in the world to play the three teams. The Jackets will only play two games this week starting in Calgary on Tuesday night before playing in Edmonton on Thursday night. Those are the only games for Columbus this week as their next opponent will be Vancouver next Sunday night before returning home to Ohio.
The Flyers had a light week with only three games on their schedule. They began last week at home against the Ottawa Senators and scored all three of their goals in the 2nd period to defeat the Sens by a final score of 3-2 to keep their playoff hopes alive for one more night. That win moved them to within three points of the final Wild Card position. The Capitals were next in Philly and couldn’t care any less about the Flyers’ playoff hopes as they stormed through the Flyers by a final score of 5-2. The Flyers were in Toronto the next night and played one entertaining game. The game was 1-1 after 20 minutes before a goal explosion in the 2nd period that saw 7 combined goals in 20 minutes that brought the score to 5-4 after 40 minutes of play with the Flyers ahead by one. The Maple Leafs would tie it early in the 3rd period before Auston Matthews scored two more to give the Leafs the 7-5 lead. The Flyers would score one with just over a minute left but their comeback would fall short and their collapse would commence as their playoff hopes took a big hit in the back-to-back losses against the Capitals and Leafs.
Their chances are fading, but the Flyers aren’t dead in the water just yet. The Flyers have four games this week and will need to fare well to stay alive. The Flyers will take on the Penguins this evening in Pittsburgh before returning home on Tuesday to face the Canadiens. They’ll be back on the road in Chicago on Thursday night before once again returning home to face the Islanders on Saturday afternoon to finish this week. The Flyers are currently 8 points behind the Blue Jackets for the final Wild Card spot.
The New York Rangers were in western Canada last week and their season has gone full tank mode. The Rangers entered last week with only 11 road wins and had four road games on the docket. The Rangers would finish the week with 11 road wins. Their road trip began in Edmonton on Monday night and the Rangers found themselves down 2-0 quickly in that game. The Rangers fought back and tied the game at two early in the 3rd period and forced overtime. It didn’t take long for Edmonton to score as Leon Draisatil would score his 42nd goal of the year only 35 seconds in to close out the Rangers. The Rangers were in Vancouver on Wednesday night and the Canucks would score three 2nd period goals en route to a 4-1 victory over a Rangers team that doesn’t have much fight left in them. Calgary hosted the Rangers on Friday and Matthew Tkachuk would be involved in all five Flames goals as he scored two and assisted on the other three as the Flames easily handled the Rangers 5-1 in that game. The Rangers were in Minnesota the next night because the NHL schedule makers are mean. An already bad Rangers team never really had a chance in that game and the Wild took care of business in a 5-2 victory. That loss dropped the Rangers road record to 11-20-5 and are now 1-5-4 in their last 10 games. As of this morning, the Rangers have a 6.5% chance of winning the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. The Rangers odds have been going up every day as they embrace the tank.
The Rangers only play two games this week and only three games in their next 10 days. The Rangers will return to the confines of Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night when they will play the Detroit Red Wings. Their next game isn’t until Saturday night when they will cross back into Canada to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
The Devils were in the middle of a six game road trip that took them through western Canada last week. The Devils had dropped the first two games of that road trip and their first opponent last week was Calgary and it was certainly a mismatch on paper and it showed on the scoreboard as well. The Flames came away with nine goals - all scored on Mackenzie Blackwood. It was actually a closer game than the final as the Devils were trailing 4-3 at the 2nd intermission before the Flames scored six unanswered goals in the 3rd period including two only 16 seconds apart very late in the game. That loss dropped the Devils road record to 8-24-3 on the season.
The Devils were back in action in Edmonton the next night. Taylor Hall wasn’t in action to play against his former team, but the Devils didn’t need him in that game as the Devils scored six goals from six different players and the Devils played spoilers as they soundly defeated the Oilers 6-3 on Wednesday night. The Devils had one day off before taking on the Canucks on Friday night. The Devils won their second consecutive road game to bring their road win total to 10 on the year, but were also eliminated from playoff contention in that game. The Canucks would score the games first two goals with Tanner Pearson scoring early in the 3rd to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead before the Devils came roaring back with two goals of their own to tie it and force overtime. Neither team scored in OT and the game would require 14 shooters in the shootout before Damon Severson mercifully ended this battle of bottom feeders.
The Devils will end their six game road trip this afternoon in Colorado before quickly returning back to Newark to face the Capitals on Tuesday at The Rock. It’ll be another tough opponent on Thursday when the Boston Bruins will be in Newark to play. The Arizona Coyotes will wrap up next week for the Devils and that game will also be played in Newark on Saturday afternoon.
39-24-9; 87 pts; 248 Goals For (T-5th in the NHL; 6th last week); 218 Goals Against (16th)
3-1 record last week
Pittsburgh ends Boston’s long point streak with 4-2 victory
Penguins break another win streak with 5-3 win over Capitals.
Pittsburgh powers past depleted Buffalo
Penguins stoned by Jordan Binnington, lose to Blues 5-1 in first leg of weekend back-to-back
Sunday, March 17 - vs PHI, 7:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, March 19 - @ CAR, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 - @ NSH, 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - @ DAL, 8 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
- 3/9/19, LW Zach Aston-Reee - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
42-23-7, 91 pts; 248 GF (T-5th; 5th); 225 GA (T-20th; T-18th)
2-2 record last week
Vrana’s Two Goals, Ovechkin’s 1,200th Career Point Spoiled In 5-3 Defeat
Connolly’s Two Goals Power the Capitals Past the Flyers, 5-2
Alex Killorn Hat Trick Powers Bolts To 6-3 Win
Tuesday, March 19 - @ NJD, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20 - vs TBL, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 22 - vs MIN, 7 p.m.
(2)New York Islanders
41-23-7, 89 pts; 203 GF (21st; T-19th); 171 GA (1st)
2-1 record last week
Pulock opens, Greiss closes
Lee’s late winner banks two more points
No Luck of the NYIrish
Sunday, March 17 - @ MIN, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 - vs BOS, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 - @ MTL, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - @ PHI, 1 p.m.
- 3/9/19, D Johnny Boychuk - Day-to-day; Concussion
- 3/15/19, C Casey Cizikas - Day-to-day; Lower-body injury
39-25-7, 85 pts; 212 GF (T-17th; T-16th); 196 GA (7th; 9th)
2-1 record last week
“Miraculous” Mrazek, Svechnikov power Canes to 3-0 win
Bobrovsky’s shutout spoils Canes’ dominant effort in Columbus
Jordan Staal gets 500th point in Hurricanes’ big win over Sabres
Tuesday, March 19 - vs PIT, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 - vs TBL, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - vs MIN, 7 p.m.
- 3/11/19, D Calvin de Haan - Day-to-day; Eye
(5)Columbus Blue Jackets
40-28-4, 84 pts; 220 GF (T-11th; T-13th); 210 GA (11th; T-13th)
2-1-1 record last week
Jackets Beat Bruins 7-4 in Game That Had Everything
Bobrovsky steals a win
BOS: 2 OT
Columbus Blue Jackets at Boston Bruins
Tuesday, March 19 - @ CGY, 9 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 - @ EDM, 9 p.m.
- 2/17/19, D Ryan Murray - IR; Upper-body injury
- 3/15/19, LW Nick Foligno - Day-to-day; Personal reasons
34-29-8, 76 pts; 220 GF (T-11th; T-13th); 240 GA (26th)
1-2 record last week
We’re all losing a must-win game, when you really think about it
Whatever man, this is boring, who cares
Sunday, March 17 - @ PIT, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 - vs MTL, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 - @ CHI, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - vs NYI, 1 p.m.
- 1/3/19, G Michal Neuvirth - IR; Lower-body injury
- 3/14/19, RW Ryan Hartman - Day-to-day; Illness
(7)New York Rangers
28-31-13, 69 pts; 202 GF (22nd; 21st); 241 GA (27th; 25th)
0-2-1 record last week
EDM: 3 OT
Rangers Defeated in Overtime by Edmonton
Canucks Defeat Rangers with Three-Goal Second Period
Matthew Tkachuk’s Five-Point Night Downs Rangers 5-1
Losing Streak Continues as Rangers Fall 5-2 in Minnesota
Tuesday, March 19 - vs DET, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 21 - @ TOR, 7 p.m.
- 3/9/19, D Libor Hajek - Day-to-day; Separated shoulder
(8)New Jersey Devils
27-36-9, 63 pts; 204 GF (T-19th; T-24th); 246 GA (28th; T-27th)
0-2-1 record last week
Devils Defense Flattened, Exposed by Johnny Gaudreau and Flames in loss
The New Jersey Devils Play Spoiler, Leave Edmonton Oilers Dejected in 6-3 Win
NJD: 3 SO
Devils Nearly Go 10 Rounds in Vancouver Before Knocking out the Canucks in the Shootout
Sunday, March 17 - @ COL, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 - vs WSH, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 - vs BOS, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - vs ARI, 1 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
- 3/14/18, D Egor Yakovlev - Day-to-day; Upper-body injury
Which Metropolitan game is the most intriguing?
This poll is closed
3.17.19 - PHI @ PIT, 7:30 p.m. ET
3.19.19 - PIT @ CAR, 7 p.m.
3.19.19 - BOS @ NYI, 7 p.m.
3.19.19 - CBJ @ CGY - 9 p.m.
3.20.19 - TBL @ WSH, 7:30 p.m.
3.21.19 - TBL @ CAR, 7 p.m.
3.21.19 - NYI @ MTL, 7:30 p.m.
3.23.19 - NYI @ PHI, 1 p.m.