NHL Morning Skate — Dec. 14, 201 Teams other than Penguins having difficulty getting traction in the Mets Division

NEW YORK – The stumbling and bumbling of the Metropolitan Division teams continued Friday night with the Washington Capitals dropping a 3-2 SO decision to the Florida Panthers.

Scott Clemmensen got the win for the Panthers after stopping the final six Caps shooters in a 10-round shootout.

“The shootout is not my forte, to say the least here,” Clemmensen said, laughing. “After you get past those first four shooters, everybody else kind of looks a little surprised to be where they’re at that particular moment. It’s easier on goalies at that point when you’re used to being in those types of situations and now you’re getting on down your bench. It kind of starts to get a little more fun for me anyway as it goes on.

“Obviously, some big goals by our guys there, especially Brad Boyes to force the extra innings. It’s not my forte but, hey, we’ll take it.”

It was Clemmensen’s first win of the season in four starts.

“December whatever it is, my first win of the season,” said Clemmensen, wearing the red Macho Man straw hat given out by Panthers players after a victory. “It’s been a long road here and [I] just kind of stick with it. Hey, we got the win regardless and the boys were kind enough to bestow the hat upon me tonight.”

In Pittsburgh, the Penguins built a 3-0 first period lead then needed to hang on as the New Jersey Devils rallied but fell just short in a 3-2 Pens win.

“I thought we started the game so well and everything was going well,” Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “But we knew they weren’t just going to quit there. They came out hard in the second, a lot of guys going to the net and shooting pucks. Even though they scored two goals, we were still focused on the game.”

Pascal Dupuis got things going at the 41 second mark with a wrist shot that beat Corey Schneider.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of his team’s poor start. “That’s on me. We have to be ready to go at the start of the game. The first period killed us.”

On the Dupuis goal, the Devils thought the whistle should have blown for Schneider having control of the puck but video review showed the puck in clear sight and not under control.

“It was an inexcusable goal,” Schneider said. “That can’t happen at this level and it’s not fair to my teammates to put them down like that 40 seconds into the game. I’ve always prided myself on not trying to give up goals like that. I don’t think that’s ever really happened before.

“It’s a game [decided] by a goal, and there it is.”

Out west, the Vancouver Canucks were led Friday night by their rejuvenated goalie Robert Luongo, in a 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Canucks head coach John Tortorella may have had issues in New York with a lackluster Rangers roster but he showing in Vancouver that it was the unresponsive roster in New York that cost him his job, not his coaching skills.

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Roberto Luongo stopped 19 for shutout over Oilers – Image by Lewis Bleiman

“We didn’t talk too much about Xs and Os. We really cut our meetings short as far as talking about that stuff,” Tortorella said of his preparation. “It was basically about being ready to play the right way. We talked about a mindset from yesterday at practice right on until the drop of the puck here, about being ready to play.”

Tortorella has his team playing well and Friday night they put a complete effort together for sixty minutes.

“The past three games we’ve had spurts, but today we brought it right from the start,” said forward Ryan Kesler, who had two assists. “We didn’t give them much and it was a complete effort by everybody.”

That complete effort had the Oilers on their heels all night long and had them penned up in their own zone.

“If you spend that much time in your own zone, bad things are going to happen,” said coach Dallas Eakins, who credited his Canucks counterpart. “I thought we expended a lot last night in that game and I give John Tortorella and his group great credit. They were able to prepare for us. They were sitting around waiting for this game, so they were able to key on us. He had that team ready to go. … That’s as good as I’ve seen the Canucks play in a while.”

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

Pittsburgh 3, New Jersey 2

Florida 3, Washington 2 (SO)

Vancouver 4, Edmonton 0

 PENGUINS KEEP ROLLING AT HOME

Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves for his League-leading 18th win of the season as the Penguins defeated the Devils 3-2. Fleury is 26-3 in his last 29 decisions at home. Pittsburgh improved their home winning streak to a season-high seven games, the longest current streak in the League. They have allowed two or fewer goals in six of their last seven contests (6-1-0). 

*According to the Elias Sports Bureau Fleury is now 8-1-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average in nine home games against the Devils since the Penguins moved to CONSOL Energy Center in October 2010. 

*Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby earned an assist to extend his League scoring lead to 16-28—44. He now has points in his last 11 home games (5-10—15), and a point in 15 of 16 games at CONSOL Energy Center this season (8-17—25). Crosby has eight points (3-5—8) over a five-game point streak. 

UNDEFEATED IN DECEMBER

The Vancouver Canucks improved to 6-0-0 in December with a 4-0 victory over the Oilers. The six-game winning streak is the team’s longest of the season. The Canucks have given up only six goals over that span. 

*Roberto Luongo earned his third shutout of the season, 65th of his career, and has allowed just four goals over his last four starts (4-0-0). Backup goaltender Eddie Lack posted a shutout against the Hurricanes on Dec. 10. According to the Elias Sports Bureau the Canucks are the second team this season to post back-to-back shutouts using different goaltenders (Columbus – Bobrovsky Dec. 3, McElhinney Dec.6). 

*Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison had three points (0-3-3) for the first time in his career. His 18 assists (4-18—22) this season are a career high. 

PANTHERS OUTLAST CAPITALS

Florida forward Tomas Kopecky scored in the 10th round of the shootout to help the Panthers edge the Capitals 3-2. After both teams started the shootout 3-for-4, Kopecky was the only one of the last 12 shooters to score. The shootout tied for the second-longest in Panthers history — the longest also came against Washington, a 2-1 victory that ended in the 11th round on Nov. 28, 2007. 

*Brad Boyes’ shootout goal was the 36th of his career, most among active skaters. Boyes is 36 for 76 (47.4%) in shootout attempts. 

*Panthers defenseman Dylan Olsen opened the scoring in the second period. Since netting his first career goal on Dec. 5, Olsen has points in five consecutive games (3-3—6). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Olsen’s five-game point streak matches the high for a Panthers defenseman over the last five seasons. The other Florida defensemen to accomplish the feat since 2009-10 are: Bryan McCabe (2009-10 and 2010-11), Dennis Wideman (2010-11) and Dmitry Kulikov (2011-12). 

TOP PROSPECTS ROSTERS ANNOUNCED

40 of the top prospects eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft were selected for the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary, AB, on January 15, 2014. The players were selected by the NHL clubs and include 20 players from the Ontario Hockey League, 13 players from the Western Hockey League, and seven players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Visit www.chl.ca for the complete rosters. 

LOOSE PUCKS

Devils forward Steve Bernier recorded his 100th career assist…Patrik Elias scored to extend his point streak to five games (2-4—6)… Vancouver forward Chris Higgins scored to extend his point streak to four games (2-4—6)…Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom tallied 1-1—2 and now has 2-5—7 in his last two games… The Department of Player Safety fined Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn for cross-checking Chicago forward Kris Versteeg… Jamal Mayers announced his retirement, ending a career that spanned 14 seasons. 

SNEAK PEAK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern

Calgary @ Buffalo, 2:00 p.m., SNET-W, MSG-B, BELL TV

Los Angeles @ Ottawa, 2:00 p.m., NHLN-US, FS-W, SNET-E, TVA

Dallas @ Winnipeg, 3:00 p.m., CBC, TXA 21

Chicago @ Toronto, 7:00 p.m., CBC, WGN

Pittsburgh @ Detroit, 7:00 p.m., NHLN-US, ROOT, FS-D

Tampa Bay @ New Jersey, 7:00 p.m., SUN, MSG PLUS

Montreal @ NY Islanders, 7:00 p.m., CBC, RDS, MSG PLUS 2

St. Louis @ Columbus, 7:00 p.m., FS-MW, FS-O

San Jose @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., CSN-CA, FS-TN

Carolina @ Phoenix, 8:00 p.m., FS-CR, FS-A

Minnesota @ Colorado, 9:00 p.m., FS-N, ALT

Boston @ Vancouver, 10:00 p.m., CBC, NESN

 STANLEY CUP FINAL REMATCHES

The Boston Bruins make their first trip to Rogers Arena since beating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. In Detroit, the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins renew their rivalry, playing for the first time since Dec. 13, 2011. The two teams met in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009, with each winning a championship.

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