NEW YORK – The Olympic break finally arrived and teams are looking to get healthy and welcome the return of players off injured reserve.
In Toronto, the Maple Leafs assured the Canucks they would have a miserable break in throttling Vancouver, 3-1. For the Canucks it was their seventh straight loss and one can almost hear the sizzle in John Tortorella’s system at this point.
“It was a dog’s breakfast as far as the trip, three in a row losing them all,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “We’re in a spiral, so [the Olympic break] couldn’t come for a better time mentally and getting guys back also.”
Nothing is working for the Canucks at this point and the club is having trouble scoring and the goaltending has gone soft.http://
“It’s pretty obvious the coaching staff here has not done a good job teaching details of situational play,” he said. “Third period, wall play, underneath the puck — we just have not done a good enough job because our guys are just not consistent at it. It’s going to be a huge focus as we get through this break and get ready to play again.”
For Vancouver, the Sochi break may be perfect timing to get players back in synch and have the Olympics players rediscover their games away from the NHL pressure.
In Nashville, the Predators became fair game for the Anaheim Ducks who were looking to break a rare skid; they did so by winning 5-2.
Ryan Getzlaf had two goals and three points on the night.
Getzlaf picked up his 29th goal of the season, a career-high. He also has 67 points, good for second in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby.
“We don’t play here anymore, eh?” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “No, he must like this building. Every player has certain buildings they like and that they have success in and this must be his. When he’s on, he’s a pretty dominant force in this League and he’s just such a big-bodied guy that’s so strong and he plays all situations for us. We quite frankly really need him, and every team that’s successful needs somebody that’s really good being successful and he’s our guy.”
Corey Perry added a goal in the win.http://
“Their big guys stepped up and scored goals,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Getzlaf and Perry are world-class forwards. They are big loads. That’s a big line with [Dustin] Penner on it. I thought we handled them fairly well but they got a couple of the freakish goals. I guess when things are going well for you as a hockey team they go really well. They’re a good hockey team. They found a way to win.”
In Uniondale, the Islanders suffered at the hands of the visiting Colorado Avalanche who were coming off two miserable losses in Manhattan and Philadelphia and wanted to hit the break on a positive note.
Matt Duchene had two goals and Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two points to push the Avs past the slumping Isles, 5-2.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 30 for Colorado in the win.
“I’m proud of them,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “We base our relation on trust and respect, and that’s what I’ve got since the start of the season. Seventy-nine points … it’s something that we’re very happy about.
“But we’re not satisfied at the same time. We’ve played the same number of games at home and on the road, which is great. We have 12 and 12 remaining in the season. It’ll be a good challenge for us. Teams are playing well. A good example tonight, I thought the Islanders played a really good game. I don’t know if it was the same from upstairs, but I thought it was a fast pace out there.”
The frustration is starting to build for the Islanders who seem to dominate in games but cannot get that one goal of one crucial save that would rescue a game and get them a win.
“Same old story,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We dominate the game, we don’t win a hockey game.”
But there is something missing in the New York lineup and they need to find that piece after the break.
“They came at us pretty hard. It was pretty wide open pond hockey there for most of the game,” Duchene said. “They’re a good team. They can score, they showed at the end. Thankfully, Jiggy shut the door for us there.”
The Islanders have allowed the most goals in the NHL as the teams sit back for Sochi to finish.http://
“It doesn’t feel good,” the Isles’ goalie Evgeni Nabokov said. “Anytime you lose the game like that and the game against Calgary [4-2 on Thursday], it’s two pretty similar games. As a goalie, you always feel like one extra save needs to be made, and that’s exactly how I feel. Now you have to pull a little bit extra from myself, let’s put it that way. I’m not going to talk about anybody else. That’s why we’re losing the games, because we are not getting any extra fight, any extra bitterness in ourselves. We’ve got to find this among ourselves.”
Nabokov had 22 saves in the loss.
OLYMPIC BREAK BEGINS
The NHL hits the Olympic break in a regular season defined by intense competition, dominant performances and big events.
* A wide-open playoff race features 25 teams holding a playoff berth or within four points of one.
* A close race at the top of the standings has the Ducks, Blues, Blackhawks and Penguins separated by just four points in the battle for the Presidents’ Trophy.
* Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (28-50—78) holds an 11-point lead in the NHL scoring race; Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin already has tallied 40 goals, nine more than his closest pursuer; Devils forward Jaromir Jagr, who will celebrate his 42nd birthday Saturday, is the team’s leader in goals (17), assists (32), points (49), plus-minus (+21) and shots (151); and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has a League-leading 31 wins in 47 appearances, a pace that could see him challenge the single-season record of 48 held by Martin Brodeur.
“NHL MORNING SKATE” SCHEDULE
Beginning Tuesday, the “NHL Morning Skate” will transition to afternoon distribution with daily updates from the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
LEAGUE LEADERS AT THE OLYMPIC BREAK
A look at the League’s leaders, with their NHL team and Olympic team (if applicable), at the break:
1. Sidney Crosby (PIT/CAN): 28-50—78
2. Ryan Getzlaf (ANA/CAN): 29-38—67
3. John Tavares (NYI/CAN): 24-42—66
4. Phil Kessel (TOR/USA): 31-34—65
5. Patrick Kane (CHI/USA): 27-36—63
1. Alex Ovechkin (WSH/RUS): 40
2. Phil Kessel (TOR/USA): 31
3. Corey Perry (ANA/CAN): 30
t-4. Ryan Getzlaf (ANA/CAN): 29
t-4. Joe Pavelski (SJ/USA): 29
1. Sidney Crosby (PIT/CAN): 50
2. Joe Thornton (SJ): 48
t-3. Nicklas Backstrom (WSH/SWE): 45
t-3. Duncan Keith (CHI/CAN): 45
5. John Tavares (NYI/CAN): 42
1. Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT): 31
2. Antti Niemi (SJ/FIN): 29
t-3. Ben Bishop (TB): 28
t-3. Semyon Varlamov (COL/RUS): 28
5. Carey Price (MTL/CAN): 26
1. Josh Harding (MIN): 1.65
2. Cory Schneider (NJ): 1.85
3. Ben Bishop (TB): 1.98
4. Ben Scrivens (EDM): 1.98
5. Frederik Andersen (ANA): 2.06
1. Ben Scrivens (EDM): .937
2. Ben Bishop (TB): .933
3. Josh Harding (MIN): .933
4. Tuukka Rask (BOS/FIN): .928
5. Frederik Andersen (ANA): .928
A look at the top team and individual performances since Jan. 1 (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau):
HIGHEST POINTS PERCENTAGE, SINCE JAN. 1
1. Pittsburgh Penguins: .750 (11-3-2, 24 points)
2. Colorado Avalanche: .711 (13-5-1, 27 points)
t-3. Boston Bruins: .706 (11-4-2, 24 points)
t-3. Minnesota Wild: .706 (11-4-2, 24 points)
MOST POINTS, SINCE JAN. 1
1. Phil Kessel (TOR/USA): 11-17—28
2. John Tavares (NYI/CAN): 8-14—22
3. Nathan MacKinnon (COL): 12-8—20
4. Ryan Getzlaf (ANA/CAN): 9-11—20
5. Claude Giroux (PHI): 8-12—20
6. Gabriel Landeskog (COL/SWE): 6-14—20
MOST GOALS, SINCE JAN. 1
1. Joe Pavelski (SJ/USA): 13
2. Nathan MacKinnon (COL): 12
t-3. Phil Kessel (TOR/USA): 11
t-3. Rick Nash (NYR/CAN): 11
MOST ASSISTS, SINCE JAN. 1
1. Phil Kessel (TOR/USA): 17
2. Alex Pietrangelo (STL/CAN): 15
t-3. Nazem Kadri (TOR): 14
t-3. Gabriel Landeskog (COL/SWE): 14
t-3. John Tavares (NYI/CAN): 14
MOST WINS, SINCE JAN. 1
t-1. Anton Khudobin (CAR): 11
t-1. Semyon Varlamov (COL/RUS): 11
t-3. Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ/RUS): 10
t-3. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR/SWE): 10
t-3. Jonathan Bernier (TOR): 10
BEST GOALS-AGAINST AVERAGE, SINCE JAN. 1*
1. Cory Schneider (NJ): 1.47
2. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR/SWE): 1.91
3. Jaroslav Halak (STL/SVK): 1.92
4. Jonathan Quick (LA/USA): 2.01
5. Corey Crawford (CHI): 2.15
* minimum, 10 games
BEST SAVE PERCENTAGE, SINCE JAN. 1*
1. Cory Schneider (NJ): .942
2. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR/SWE): .937
3. Jaroslav Halak (STL/SVK): .933
4. Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ/RUS): .931
5. Ben Bishop (TB): .929
* minimum, 10 games
LONGEST ACTIVE POINT STREAKS
1. Antoine Vermette (PHX): 10 games (8-5—13)
2. Gabriel Landeskog (COL/SWE): 9 games (4-8—12)
3. Nathan MacKinnon (COL): 8 games (5-6—11)
t-4. Derick Brassard (NYR): 6 games (3-5—8)
t-4. Mats Zuccarello (NYR/NOR): 6 games (2-6—8)
t-6. Ryan Johansen (CBJ): 5 games (5-3—8)
t-6. Evgeni Malkin (PIT/RUS): 5 games (4-3—7)
t-6. James Neal (PIT): 5 games (3-3—6)
Philadelphia 2, Calgary 1
St. Louis 4, Winnipeg 3 (SO)
Boston 7, Ottawa 2
Toronto 3, Vancouver 1
Montreal 4, Carolina 1
Tampa Bay 4, Detroit 2
Colorado 5, NY Islanders 2
Washington 3, New Jersey 0
Anaheim 5, Nashville 2
Dallas 2, Phoenix 1
BLUES TAKE OVER TOP SPOT IN CENTRAL
T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko – who will represent the United States and Russia, respectively, in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games – scored in the shootout to help the Blues enter the break with a 6-1-1 record in their last eight games.
* With the win, the Blues leapfrogged the idle Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division. They also moved three points behind the Ducks for the top spot in the NHL standings, with three games in hand:
* Oshie improved to 7-for-10 (70.0%), with three game-deciding goals, in shootouts this season and 25-for-46, with 12 game-deciding goals, in his career – his 54.3% conversion rate ranks second among active skaters with a minimum of 20 attempts.
* Barret Jackman played in his 700th NHL game, all with the Blues. He is the fourth player in franchise history to reach the milestone, following Bernie Federko (927), Brian Sutter (779) and Brett Hull (744).
* Ken Hitchcock earned his 111th win behind the Blues’ bench, moving past Scotty Bowman and into sole possession of fourth place in club history.
* The Blues improved to 15-0-1 versus the Central Division this season, with their lone loss coming Oct. 18 versus the Jets (4-3 in a shootout).
LUCKY 7 FOR BRUINS . . .
Seven different Bruins recorded multi-point games, leading the team to its highest offensive output of the season and an 8-1-2 record in its last 11 contests entering the break.
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Bruins had at least seven players post multiple points in the same game was Jan. 5, 2012, when eight players did so in a 9-0 victory over the Flames.
* Patrice Bergeron (2-1—3), who will represent Canada in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and Brad Marchand (1-2—3) led all Bruins with three points apiece.
* Jarome Iginla collected 1-1—2, his fifth multi-point performance in his last eight games. He has 4-10—14 in that span.
* David Krejci (0-2—2), who will represent the Czech Republic in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and Milan Lucic (1-0—1) also found the scoresheet. The line of Iginla (4-10—14), Krejci (3-8—11) and Lucic (4-5—9) has combined for 34 points in the last eight games.
* Chad Johnson made 26 saves to earn his fifth consecutive victory. He also improved to 6-0-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and one shutout in seven home appearances this season.
. . . AND MAPLE LEAFS
Trailing 1-0 entering the third period, the Maple Leafs scored three unanswered goals to pick up their seventh consecutive victory at Air Canada Centre, their longest home winning streak since March 6-April 7, 2007 (9-0-0).
* Jonathan Bernier made 32 saves to improve to 5-1-0 in his past six starts. He has 22 wins in 44 appearances this season, double his previous career high (2010-11: 11-8-3 in 25 GP).
* Phil Kessel, who will represent the United States in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, posted 1-1—2 for his fourth multi-point performance in his past five outings. He has 4-6—10 in that span.
* Tyler Bozak recorded two assists to eclipse 100 in his NHL career (65-101—166 in 274 GP).
MORE OLYMPIANS LEAD THEIR TEAMS INTO THE BREAK
* Carey Price, who will represent Canada in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, made 31 saves to backstop the Canadiens to their third consecutive victory. He improved to 4-1-1 with a 1.15 goals-against average, .967 save percentage and two shutouts in his past six games.
* Ryan Getzlaf, who will represent Canada in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, posted 2-1—3 to help the Ducks snap a three-game losing streak. Getzlaf has seven games with three or more points this season, second in the NHL to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (nine such performances).
* Matt Duchene (2-0—2) and Gabriel Landeskog (1-1—2) – who will represent Canada and Sweden, respectively, in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games – both collected two points to lead the Avalanche to their fifth victory in their last seven games. Duchene eclipsed 100 career goals (101-142—243 in 321 GP), while Landeskog extended his point streak to a career-long nine games (4-8—12).
* Ondrej Palat (2-0—2), who will represent the Czech Republic in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, recorded his first career multi-goal game to power the Lightning to their fifth win in their past nine games. The NHL’s Rookie of the Month for January, Palat ranks third among first-year players with 14-20—34 in 58 games this season.
* Kari Lehtonen, who will represent Finland in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, made 26 saves to help the Stars extend their point streak to five games (3-0-2). He improved to 9-3-4 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 17 career appearances versus the Coyotes, including two victories in the past five days.
MILESTONE NIGHT FOR RED WINGS
The Red Wings played their 6,000th regular-season game, joining the Blackhawks (Feb. 3) and Rangers (Feb. 6) as teams to reach the milestone this week.
Two of the Red Wings’ Olympians also achieved personal milestones:
* Pavel Datsyuk collected an assist to earn his 800th NHL point (270-530—800 in 816 GP), becoming the sixth Russian-born player in League history to reach the milestone. Datsyuk leads all active Russians in career scoring, five points ahead of Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (411-384—795 in 656 GP).
* Daniel Alfredsson recorded his 14th goal of the season to move past Nicklas Lidstrom and into sole possession of second place in all-time scoring by Swedish-born players (440-703—1,143 in 1,224 GP).
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped all 25 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and the 10th of his NHL career . . . Ray Emery made 32 saves to backstop the Flyers to their fourth consecutive victory . . . Capitals forward Troy Brouwer scored his 100th career goal, while teammate Julien Brouillette recorded his first NHL goal, the game-winner . . . Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck played in his 400th career game . . . Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto skated in his 300th NHL game . . . Blues forward Magnus Paajarvi appeared in his 200th career game . . . Islanders forward Colin McDonald, Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone and Senators forward Mika Zibanejad all played in their 100th NHL game . . . Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov made his League debut . . . The Flames signed defenseman Kris Russell to a two-year contract extension.