Things are coming to a close very soon around the NHL as playoff contenders keep battling for spots and the also-rans play out the last few games awaiting their early tee times. Formers Islanders are still pushing for teams both high and low. Thursday was no exception as 20 teams faced off in 10 tilts around the league. Let us look at the FI contributions:
* Viktor Kozlov had 2 assists as the Washington Capitals won their 6th straight game, 4-1, as they beat the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps slipped into the 8th spot with the win and tied up the Southeast Division leading Carolina Hurricanes with 92 points. Each team has 1 game remaining while the caps hold on the 8th spot is tenuous owing to the Philadelphia Flyers having a game in hand. Things are intense and Kozlov has been a force for the Caps during this improbable push. Kozzer has 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points on 80 games. Over this 6 game streak, Kozlov has contributed with 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points. Caps' defenseman Tom Poti capped the scoring with an empty netter at the 18:52 mark. Poti now has 2 goals and 27 assists for 29 points on 70 games. During this Washington run Poti has 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points. The netter snapped a 24 goal-less drought.
* Martin Straka had an insurance goal and an assist on the powerplay game winner as the New York Rangers blanked the host Islanders 3-0. Straka has 14 goals and 25 assists for 39 points on 63 games. He has 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) this season on the man advantage. The netter broke a 6 game goal-less run. For the 3rd straight season, and 9th time on his career, Straka has 25+ assists.
* Michael Peca had an assist on Columbus' 2nd goal as the Blue Jackets were edged by the host Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Peca has 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points on 63 games. He has 3 points on his last 4 games notching 2 goals and 1 assist.
* Bryan Smolinski had 2 goals, including the game winner, as the Montreal Canadiens dropped the visiting Buffalo Sabres 3-1. The first star of the game, Smolinski has 8 goals and 16 assists for 24 points on 63 games. He broke a 8 game goal-less run with the netters. The 2nd goal was the 650th point (274 goals, 376 assists) of Smoke's career on 1,055 games. D-man Roman Hamrlik had an assist on the opening powerplay goal.
* D-man Sean Hill had a powerplay assist on the insurance goal as the Minnesota Wild beat the visiting Calgary Flames 3-1. Hill has 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) on 34 games with 5 of those points (1 goal, 4 assists) coming on the man advantage. Hill has been especially productive as of late with 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points on 7 games. Adrian Aucoin had the a powerplay helper on the lone Calgary tally. Aucoin has 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) on 76 games. It is the 3rd time on Aucoin's career that he has reached the 35+ point plateau having his best season since the 2003-04 campaign when he had 44 points with the Isles and tying his second best season when he had 35 points in 2002-03, also with Isles.
* Derek Armstrong had an assist on Los Angeles' 2nd goal as the Kings surprised the San Jose Sharks, who had not lost in regulation in their last 21 games, with a 4-2 win. Armstrong received 1st star of the game honor. Armstrong has 35 points (8 goals, 27 assists) on 76 games. For the 5th straight season, all with the Kings, Armstrong has reached the 35+ point mark.
* Roberto Luongo stopped 19 of 21 shots but the offense failed to keep the team in is at the host Vancouver Canucks fell to the Edmonton Oilers 2-1. The loss officially eliminated the Canucks from playoff contention, their 6th loss in their last 7 games. Luongo fell to 35-28-9 with the loss. He has dropped 6 of his last 7 starts surrendering 22 goals and was pulled in 2 of those contests.
Check in soon as there are only a few days remaining to the 2007-08 NHL season.