NEW YORK – With New Year’s Day here and the 2014 Winter Classic there is much attention being paid to the Tuesday night slate of games but as always we will highlight three games of interest.
In Sunrise, the Rangers overcame a nearly catastrophic give-away by defenseman Dan Girardi to win in the shootout, 2-1 over the Panthers. Girardi made up for his error with the game tying goal late in the third period to force the extra session and shootout.
Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves on the night before stopping all three Panthers shooters in the shootout for the win.
“It’s a good feeling to end the year,” Lundqvist said. “It’s been up-and-down, no question. We’ve talked about it so many times now, but we continue building both as a group and also for myself here. Let’s enjoy the new year tonight and then get back to work in a couple of days.”
Girardi’s give-away below the goal line nearly cost New York two precious points.
“[Henrik] was big for us tonight,” said Dan Girardi, who sent the game to overtime with a goal with 2:10 left in the third period. “He made the big saves when he had to. When we needed him he was there, and that’s why we’ve got him back there. He’s a pretty big clutch player for us.”
With teams in the division winning, the Rangers need every point they can take.
“It was a hard-fought game from both teams,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “There wasn’t tons of room out there. After a pretty stingy first period as far as scoring chances on both sides, our power play got some great looks in the second. We had some Grade A scoring opportunities. The only thing we didn’t do was put it past their goaltender, who obviously was on top of his game tonight. We made one mistake in the second, they made us pay for it. But we stuck with the process and brought it down to the wire and we were able to tie it and win it in OT.”
In St Paul, the Wild continued their freefall as they lost the Blues, 2-1. The Wild are having difficulties at both ends of their game but their offense has completely disappeared of late.
“It feels a little bit like Groundhog Day right now, the difference is that every game has been a different story,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We had a good start, our first [period] was good against a team we knew was going to defend hard and play well, and then unfortunately we broke.”
Josh Harding took the loss, his second straight.
“Got to get a win. That’s what it comes down to. We’ve got to get a win,” Yeo said. “There were a lot of things that were much better tonight, but we’re not in a position where we can feel good about those things. We’ll build off them, look at them, but there’s still other things that we’re not doing well enough to win hockey games. Every game is different and you got to find a way to win. It’s making a play here or there, it’s whatever it takes. We’ve got to find a way.”
There’s a reason why Pro Hockey News has moved the Anaheim Ducks into the number one position in our NHL Power Ranking Poll. On the back end of a home-and-home series with the Sharks, the Ducks doubled up San Jose, 6-3, to earn a split in the brace of games.
The Ducks are now 15-0-2 on home ice this season.
“It’s great,” said goalie Jonas Hiller, who set a team record with his ninth straight win. “I think the expectations are definitely higher this year than last year, where we kind of flew under the radar. But now this year, everybody was kind of expecting us to do well, and to be able to keep up to those expectations is not an easy thing, especially in the Western Conference or the Pacific Division.
“It’s always nice if you look at the standings and you see your team up there, but at the same time, we came there because we were working hard. You can’t just look at the standings the rest of the year and hope we stay there. We’ve got to keep working.”
The Sharks tried to rally in the second period with two goals but they were unable to contain the Ducks who posted three of their own.
“You obviously want to keep that momentum going, but that second period we were just caught staring most of the period, and it definitely cost us,” San Jose captain Joe Thornton said. “What can I say? That second period killed us.
“We’re usually good with dealing with pressure. We just weren’t getting pucks out. I think we had it on our stick a couple times; we just couldn’t get pucks out. They’re a good team, and they make you pay if you don’t get the puck out.”
The Ducks Ryan Getzlaf notched his 20th of the season and added two assists.
New Jersey 2, Pittsburgh 1
NY Rangers 2, Florida 1 (SO)
St. Louis 2, Minnesota 1
NY Islanders 5, Boston 3
Carolina 5, Montreal 4 (OT)
Winnipeg 3, Buffalo 0
Dallas 3, Los Angeles 2
Colorado 5, Columbus 3
Anaheim 6, San Jose 3
Philadelphia 4, Calgary 1
Phoenix 4, Edmonton 3 (OT)
Jaden Schwartz scored the game-winning goal to extend his goal/point streak to six games (6-2—8) and help the Blues improve to 27-7-5 (59 points), the team’s second-best record ever (in terms of points percentage) through Dec. 31 . . . John Tavares posted 2-2—4 to lead the Islanders back from a two-goal deficit, the second consecutive game in which they overcame a deficit of two or more goals (trailed 3-0 Sunday versus the Wild) . . . Alexander Semin scored at 3:27 of overtime to complete the Hurricanes’ rally from a three-goal, second-period deficit . . . The Ducks scored four consecutive goals to split their home-and-home with the Sharks and improve to 29-8-5 (63 points), their best record ever through 42 games. They also improved to 15-0-2 this season at Honda Center, becoming the third team in the past 25 years to begin a season with points in 17 or more consecutive home games (2008-09 Sharks: 20-0-2, 1988-89 Flames: 14-0-3) . . . Mikkel Boedker posted the tying goal with 1:10 remaining in regulation and Keith Yandle tallied the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left in overtime, the Coyotes’ franchise-record sixth consecutive game that required extra time (2-0-4).