With the All-Star festivities over it is now grind time in the NHL for the 27 or so teams still in contention for a playoff spot. Very few teams are looking at riding out the season (i.e. the Islanders) but the next couple of weeks will either make many teams strong contenders or playoff wannabes. With the push to the postseason at hand Former Islanders are contributing and if Tuesday night was a sign of events to come, it could be good. FIs aided in 7 of 11 games making major impacts in most of those games. Let us take a look:
Boston captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara notched the secondary assist on the game winning powerplay goal in OT as the Bruins edged the visiting Washington Capitals 3-2. Chara is riding a 4 game point-scoring streak in which he has compiled 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). Chara has 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points on 48 games and is 1 point shy of #300 on his career. For the 6th consecutive season Chara has reached the 30+ point plateau.
Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood gave a fairly strong effort but the Columbus Blue Jackets got the better of the visiting Red Wings as they eked by them 3-2 in OT. Ozzie stopped 20 of 23 shots faced including 2 of 3 in OT but it was the third one that capped a hat trick for Jackets' forward Rick Nash. Osgood lost for the 3rd time in his last 4 games (1-1-2) and is now 15-3-6 on the season. His save percentage continues to hover in the subpar and is currently .883 while his goals against average dropped slightly to 3.21. The 6 OT losses equals his previous career high from 2006-07 season.
New York Rangers' backup backstopper Stephen Valiquette stopped 33 of 35 shots as the Blueshirts skipped past the visiting Carolina Hurricanes for a 3-2 victory. Vali recorded his first win of 2009 in 3 starts (1-1-1). The win broke a month and a half long winless streak dating back to December 17. Valiquette is now 5-3-1 on the season with a .929 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average. Somewhat surprisingly, both of those statistics are head and shoulders above Rangers' starter Henrik Lundqvist.
Florida d-man scored a goal with just over 5 minutes remaining in the opening frame as the Panthers skittered by the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 (popular score on Tuesday, eh?). The tally snapped a 3 game point-less streak. McCabe has 9 goals and 12 assists for 21 points on 37 games. He is 2nd only to Jay Bouwmeester on the Panthers for defensive scoring leader in goals and points.
Minnesota d-man Marc-Andre Bergeron netted his first goal since January 13 snapping a 4 game point-less streak as the Wild thumped the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. The tally was the deciding goal and came exactly a minute after the Leafs had tied the score at 1 a piece. MAB has 5 goals and 13 assists for 18 points on 37 games. The game winner was Bergeron's first of the season and his first since January 13, 2008 while still with the Isles. MAB has 7 game winning goals on his career and has managed at least 1 winner in each of the last 5 seasons. Bergeron has also managed 5+ goals for 6 straight seasons. Scoring that lone goal for the Leafs was winger Jason Blake. He has 5 goals in the last 5 games and has notched 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points on 44 games. Blakey has already equaled his goal output from last season. For the 6th consecutive year Blake has reached the 15+ goal mark.
Phoenix center Olli Jokinen was credited with the secondary assist on the opening goal as the visiting Anaheim Ducks crushed the Coyotes 7-3. Jokinen is riding a 4 game point streak in which he has notched 2 goals and 2 assists. He has 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) on 43 games. Jokinen is rapidly approaching 500 career points and should reach that mark in the next week or so. The helper came on the powerplay and was O-Jok's 14th point (5 goals, 9 assists) on the man advantage this season. Jokinen has 175 powerplay points (74 goals, 101 assists) on his career.
Buffalo center Tim Connolly joined in on the fun as the Sabres disemboweled the host Edmonton Oilers 10-2. Connolly scored 2 goals (1 powerplay, 1 shorthanded) and added an assist as 10 different Sabres recorded 2 or more points. TimCo now has 7 goals and 6 assists for 13 points on 14 games. Over the last 4 games Connolly has been on fire with 5 goals and 1 assist for 6 points. The powerplay and shorthanded tallies were Connolly's first of the season. He last scored an extra man goal on February 29, 2008 while his last shortie was December 8, 2007. TimCo now has 3 shorthanded goals on his career. A pair of Oilers also got in on the "fun". Winger Robert Nilsson scored a goal and added a powerplay helper. The multi-point effort was only the 2nd of the season for Nily who has 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points on 37 games. The the 2nd straight season and 3rd time on his career Nilsson has reached the 15+ point mark. Adding the secondary assist on the Oilers' powerplay goal was d-man Denis Grebeshkov. He has managed a point every other game with 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists) on 44 games. Greb is tied for 8th on Edmonton in points scoring currently tied with big offseason acquisition Erik Cole.
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