There were seven games on the slate in the NHL Sunday and there were some big performances led by Sidney Crosby, Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Elliott.
Let's get to the action!
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PITTSBURGH 4 FLORIDA 0
Sidney Crosby had the natural hat trick and took over sole possession of the NHL goal scoring race in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0 win over Florida.
Crosby is also tied with Connor McDavid atop the NHL scoring race with 80 points and actually is considered the leader as he has 40 goals to McDavid’s 25.
Marc-Andre Fleury was solid in net as he turned aside all 21 Florida shots in pushing his record to 18-8-6. His peripherals are not great as he has a 2.94 GAA and a .911 save percentage but the Penguins have been using him more of late as he has started four of the last 10 games.
The loss put another nail in the coffin of the Panthers chances to make the playoffs as they sit in 13th spot, six points behind Toronto with 11 to go. The Leafs also have a game in hand on Florida and there are still the Islanders, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Carolina to pass in the standings.
Patric Hornqvist opened the scoring and obviously the game winner as he potted his 18th of the season in the first period. He had gone goalless in his last 12 games as he had not scored since he beat the Avalanche twice on February 9.
Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary each had three assists as they picked them up on their linemate Crosby’s goals.
James Reimer made 28 saves in the loss. He is 14-14-5 with a 2.63 GAA and a .917 save percentage. He has taken over for the injured Roberto Luongo and has played in nine straight games, starting seven and relieving Luongo twice when he was hurt.
It was the 1,700th NHL game for Jaromir Jagr, the fourth NHLer to do so.
COLUMBUS 4 NEW JERSEY 1
It’s not often that a team gets two penalty shots in regulation time, never mind scoring twice but that’s what happened to the Blue Jackets as they defeated the Devils 4-1.
It was only the third time in NHL history that a team has scored twice with a penalty shot as the 1982 Vancouver Canucks and the 2009 San Jose Sharks have turned the trick.
The Blue Jackets are tied with Washington for first overall in the NHL standings with 100 points and they clinched a playoff spot.
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring in the first with a couple of shorthanded goals by Lukas Sedlak (on a penalty shot) and Boone Jenner who scored his first of two.
Adam Henrique scored the lone New Jersey goal just seven seconds after Jenner’s goal on the power play and Columbus exited the first period with a 2-1 lead.
Brandon Dubinsky scored the lone goal of the second period on a penalty shot and Jenner completed the scoring with an empty netter to seal the win.
Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his league-leading 39th win of the season as he stopped 35 of 36 shots. He has a 2.04 GAA and a .931 save percentage and is my leading candidate as of this date for the Vezina Trophy.
Cory Schneider made 23 saves in taking the loss. The Devils are mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings with only 64 points and are in line for a high first round pick. They definitely need more scoring punch as their lack of offense is killing their chances for a post-season run.
WINNIPEG 5 MINNESOTA 4
I really enjoy watching Josh Morrissey play and I suggest that he should be drafted on someone’s team next season in deeper drafts.
His fifth goal of the season was the game winner as the Jets prevailed after blowing a 4-0 lead.
The Jets scored all three goals in the first as Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry and Ben Chiarot scored on a beleaguered Devan Dubnyk who stopped only 16 of 21 shots. Lowry’s 13th of the season was on the power play.
The Jets continued to pour it on in the second as Dustin Byfuglien scored his 12th of the season but the Wild didn’t roll over and die.
Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund (his 25th of the season and a power play effort) made it 4-2 before Chris Stewart with a pair including his 13th, tied the game at 4 heading into the third.
Dubnyk, as mentioned earlier, took the loss and is 36-18-3 with a 2.18 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He has given up 14 goals in his last four games, all losses, and gave up two goals on two shots in his previous game before being replaced. He has lost his status as the front runner for the Vezina.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 31 of 35 shots before being replaced at the start of the third period. Michael Hutchinson stopped all 13 shots for the win. He is 5-11-3 with a 3.18 GAA and a .896 save percentage.
A couple of milestones in the game as Blake Wheeler picked up his 500th career point and Eric Staal played in his 1,000th NHL game.
Both Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault had a pair of assists.
CHICAGO 6 COLORADO 3
I was a little worried after the second period as I wrote the FanDuel Fades column this morning and told everyone to not take Jeremy Smith. Well, Smith stopped 19 of 20 shots in the first two periods but the third was a different story as he was able to make just nine saves on 13 shots and blow his fantasy night.
The Blackhawks won 6-3 as they scored five unanswered goals in the final stanza for the win, including one into the empty net.
Chicago got off to a 1-0 lead on Patrick Kane’s 32nd of the season but Mikhail Grigorenko gave the Avs a 2-1 lead with his eighth and ninth goals of the season before the end of the first period.
Sven Andrighetto had the only goal of the second period as he scored his fourth of the campaign and his second as a member of the Avalanche. He started the season with Montreal where he had two goals and eight points in 27 games but has two goals and three assists in eight games since joining Colorado at the trade deadline.
But it was cue the comeback in the third period as Jonathan Toews scored twice including his 20th of the season while Richard Panik (19), Artemi Panarin with his 24th and game winner, and Marcus Kruger with his third of the season into the empty net to give the Blackhawks the win.
Smith is 1-5-0 with a 3.44 GAA and a .890 save percentage. Smith is playing for the worst team in the NHL so it may be harder to judge him.
Scott Darling got the start and made 22 saves for his 18th win of the season. He has a 2.12 GAA and a .931 save percentage and has been one of the best backups this season.
John Hayden picked up a pair of assists and has three points in three career NHL games.
Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog were each a minus-three for the Avs.
PHILADELPHIA 4 CAROLINA 3 (Overtime)
Brayden Schenn’s 22nd of the season was the overtime winner as the Flyers kept their slender playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 win over Carolina. Travis Konecny sent the game into extra time with his 11th of the season with only 43 seconds left in the third.
The Flyers are five points in arrears of Toronto who still have a game in hand.
For Schenn, who has 15 power play goals this season, tied for the top spot in the NHL, it was a rare even strength goal.
Ivan Provorov and Dale Weise also scored for the Flyers while Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm and Jordan Staal replied for Carolina.
Lindholm, who also chipped in with an assist, has 39 points this season, tying a career best set in each of the last two seasons.
It was a big night for Provorov who also had a pair of assists and the rookie defenseman has six goals and 28 points this season.
Steve Mason only faced 22 shots but got the win by making 19 saves. He is 21-20-7 with a 2.76 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
Cam Ward took the overtime loss despite making 40 saves as the Flyers peppered him with shots.
Staal and Sebastian Aho were each a minus-three while Sean Couturier was a plus-three.
MONTREAL 4 OTTAWA 1
The Montreal Canadiens pushed aside their closest opponent in the Atlantic Division this weekend as they downed the Ottawa Senators for the second night in a row. The Habs picked up three points on the Sens this weekend as Saturday’s tilt ended up in a shootout win for Montreal.
Thomas Plekanec, Jordie Benn, Paul Byron and Nathan Beaulieu scored for Montreal. It was Byron’s 20th of the season, second on the Canadiens to only Max Pacioretty.
Tom Pyatt’s seventh of the season was the only puck to get past Carey Price. Price is 33-17-5 with a 2.26 GAA and a .923 save percentage as he re-establishing himself as a top NHL goalie after a rough patch this season in which he allowed four or more goals nine times in 18 games from December 28-February 12. He has not allowed more than three in the last five weeks.
Craig Anderson made 33 saves on 37 shots. He saw his record drop to 21-9-2 with a 2.30 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
Marc Methot had 10 hits on the night but was a team-worst minus-three. He had one more hit than teammate Mark Borowiecki.
CALGARY 5 LOS ANGELES 2
The Calgary Flames scored twice in the first period to chase Jonathan Quick, then twice more in the second and an empty netter in the third as they upended the Los Angeles Kings 5-2.
Sean Monahan, Michael Stone, Mark Giordano, Johnny Gaudreau and Kris Versteeg scored for the Flames while Anze Kopitar finally hit double digits with his 10th of the season and Nic Dowd replied for Los Angeles.
Brian Elliott picked up his 11th straight win of the season. Elliott started the season horribly, with a 3-9-1 but his 15-1-1 record of late has boosted his mark to 23-13-3 and he is the goalie the Flames thought they were getting when they acquired him from St. Louis in the off-season. He is now everything the Flames hoped he would be.
Quick gave up two goals on only seven shots before he was removed from the game after giving up Stone’s goal at the 11:36 mark of the first. He was replaced by Ben Bishop who managed to stop 14 of 16 shots.
Curtis Lazar got into his first game as a Flame following a deadline deal with Ottawa and picked up an assist. He now has two helpers in 34 games after a terrible season with the Senators offensively.
Monahan had two assists as well as his 23rd goal and has 49 points this season.