NEW YORK – Only three games were played in the NHL Wednesday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs escaped the Buffalo Sabres with a 4-3 shootout win on home ice.
“We seem to have guys that are confident going in with their moves and the goaltenders are confident in the net,” the Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk said. “It makes it a good matchup in the shootout.”
Ryan Miller continued his amazing season in spite of the circumstances; he stopped 36 shots to get the Sabres to OT and then the shootout.
“Third game in four nights, on the road, being down a goal going into the third period,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “I thought our third period was our best period.”
But Miller had no answer for any of the three Leafs shooters.
Meanwhile James Reimer stopped one of two in the shootout and that was enough for the win.
“Shootouts are important points and they’re huge come the end of the year,” Reimer said. “Obviously regulation wins are most important, but those points are priceless.”
In Pittsburgh, the Penguins needed a late goal from Ollie Maatta to edge the visiting Capitals, 4-3.
“[Jussi Jokinen] told me before the game that it was about time for me to score a goal,” Maatta said. “I did listen.”
Alex Ovechkin had a goal in the loss and felt the Caps played well enough except for a few mistakes.
“I think we played today great,” Ovechkin said. “We made a couple mistakes, but every period we got the lead. Unfortunately, we lost the game, we lost the point. I don’t think we deserved to lose tonight.”
The Caps just seemed to have worn down by the end of regulation.
“You have to know how much juice you have left in the tank,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We blew two leads. On both goals, I thought we should change, but we didn’t. We got caught a little tired and we made mistakes and they have great players.”
In Anaheim, the Ducks just continue on their march through the NHL schedule on home ice. On Wednesday, they added to their home record, 20-0-2, with a 9-1 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks.
This was a power trip through the Canucks effort as the Ducks registered six power play goals in the win.
The Blackhawks are up next for the Ducks in Chicago.
“It will definitely show us where we’re at,” forward Andrew Cogliano said. “I feel like we’re going pretty good now, but they’re a team at home that’s really tough to beat, and that building is pretty cool to play in. I think that’s going to be a really fun game, a really exciting game and I think it’s something we can build off of if we get a big win.”
While there may be swagger on the ice for Anaheim, their off-ice demeanor is low profile.
“I try not to pay attention to that,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I really don’t, because it gets in your head. We’re just trying to win games. You win enough games and then you look up and you go, ‘Holy cripes, we got that many points. That’s pretty good.’ We wanted to make sure that nobody heads get swelled. You take it for what it was: an unfortunate game by Vancouver and I’m sure that they’re next opponent is going to pay for that.”
The Canucks looked for reason not to be completely demoralized.
“I’ve had a lot of disappointing losses,” Henrik Sedin said. “This is up there. But again, it was not a 9-1 game. It’s wasn’t a 6-1 game. They had eight minutes of 5-on-3. They’re going to score when they get that. That’s what happened.”
Head coach John Tortorella was quietly circumspect on the loss.
“There’s no sense of me dissecting it for you guys on anything,” Tortorella said. “It does me no good. It does the players no good to discuss anything that happened here. The biggest thing for us is we need to get out of here and get ready for our next game.”
The devastating concern for the rest of the league? The Ducks backed way off in the third period.
“We didn’t want to finish the game like that,” Teemu Selanne said. “I know there were a couple of guys who had a chance to get a hat trick, but it’s almost embarrassing to even try. But, what are you going to say? It’s a good thing we won. But we can’t really get too high about this one.”
And if that’s not enough to cause nightmares, the Ducks were without number one goalie Jonas Hiller who was down with the flu.
Hiller missed out on adding to his win streak, currently at 14. Back-up Frederik Andersen got the start and is now 11-2-0 on the strength of 31-saves.
DUCKS CONTINUE TO FLY HIGH
The Ducks scored a franchise-record nine goals, including six via the power play, to improve to 18-1-0 in their past 19 games, joining the 1967-68 Canadiens as the only teams in NHL history to win 18 of 19 contests. The Canadiens went on to win 20 of 21 games from Jan. 6-Feb. 22, 1968, en route to capturing the Stanley Cup, the first of back-to-back championships.
* The Ducks set franchise records for goals and power-play goals in a single game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to score six power-play goals in a game was the Sharks on Jan. 4, 2007, in a 9-4 victory over the Red Wings.
* The Ducks improved to 20-0-2 this season at Honda Center, matching the 2008-09 Sharks for the longest home points streak to open a season in the past 34 years. They also are the fourth team in the last 40 NHL seasons to record points in each of their first 22 or more home games of a season.
LONGEST HOME POINTS STREAKS TO START A SEASON, SINCE 1973-74
1979-80 Flyers: 26^ (19-0-7)
1978-79 Islanders: 23 (19-0-4)
2013-14 Ducks: 22 (20-0-2)
2008-09 Sharks: 22 (20-0-2)
^ NHL record
* The Ducks lead the NHL with a 36-8-5 record (77 points) through 49 games, marking the deepest point of a season the team has been atop the League standings (previously, 48 games in 2006-07).
* Seven Ducks recorded multi-point games, led by Corey Perry’s 2-2—4 performance.
* Teemu Selanne posted 2-1—3, including the 110th game-winning goal of his career to tie Brett Hull for fourth all-time. Both of Selanne’s goals came via the power play, giving him 255 for his career – third all-time and 10 behind Hull for second place. With 682 total goals, Selanne ranks 11th in NHL history, eight behind Mario Lemieux for 10th place.
* Nick Bonino scored a pair of power-play goals, giving him 15-20—35 in 49 games this season – all career highs. Bonino had 11-22—33 in 112 career games prior to 2013-14.
* Rookie Frederik Andersen made 31 saves to improve to 11-2-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 13 appearances this season.
* The Ducks next face the Blackhawks, the No. 2 team in the NHL standings, on Friday at United Center. NHL Network will televise the game in both the U.S. and Canada.
MAATTA, PENGUINS MAKE IT LUCKY 13
Olli Maatta scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:54 remaining in regulation to help the Penguins overcome a trio of one-goal deficits en route to picking up their 13th consecutive home victory, a franchise record.
* The Penguins improved to 14-2-1 in their last 17 games overall, including a 5-0-1 mark in their past six. They lead the Eastern Conference and rank third in the NHL with a 34-12-2 record (70 points) this season.
* Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves to earn his League-leading 27th victory of the season. He is 31-3-0 in his last 34 home decisions dating to Feb. 2, 2013, including 10 consecutive wins.
* Sidney Crosby collected an assist to extend his home points streak to 17 games (8-18—26). He has registered at least one point in 22 of 23 games this season at CONSOL Energy Center, totaling a League-leading 25 assists and 36 points on home ice.
* Jussi Jokinen scored the game-tying goal and now has 4-7—11 in his past nine games.
* The Penguins improved to 7-1-0 in their last eight meetings with the Capitals, including six consecutive victories.
TEAM ORR WINS TOP PROSPECTS GAME
Jared McCann, the No. 11-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season rankings, scored with 3:29 remaining in regulation to lift Team Orr to a 4-3 victory over Team Cherry in the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
“I definitely haven’t scored a bigger goal,” said McCann. “It’s amazing.”
* Click here for a full recap of the game.
* Click here for NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season rankings.
The Maple Leafs scored on all three of their shootout attempts to earn their third consecutive victory and League-leading ninth win this season via the shootout . . . Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his League-leading 34th goal of the season and now has 4-3—7 over his past seven games . . . Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons recorded a career-high 13 hits, the most by a rookie since Islanders forward Matt Martin had 14 versus the Maple Leafs on March 8, 2011 (Elias) . . . Sabres forward Cody Hodgson scored his 10th goal of the season to reach 100 career points . . . Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf posted his 400th NHL assist . . . Capitals forward Joel Ward played in his 400th career game . . . Canucks goaltender Joacim Eriksson made his NHL debut, recording 25 saves on 31 shots . . . The Oilers made a pair of trades, acquiring forward Matt Hendricks from the Predators in exchange for goaltender Devan Dubnyk and also acquiring goaltender Ben Scrivens from the Kings in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft . . . Jamie Langenbrunner announced his retirement from the NHL following a 16-season career. The 38-year-old forward compiled 243-420—663 over 1,109 games with the Stars, Devils and Blues, capturing the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 and Devils in 2003.
SNEAK PEEK AT THURSDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Detroit @ NY Rangers, 7:00 p.m., FS-D, MSG 2
Nashville @ Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m., FS-TN, CSN-PH
Montreal @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS
NY Islanders @ Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., MSG PLUS, SUN
San Jose @ Florida, 7:30 p.m., CSN-CA, FS-F
Los Angeles @ St. Louis, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2
Edmonton @ Minnesota, 8:00 p.m., SNET-W, FS-N
Boston @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., NESN, FS-SW
New Jersey @ Colorado, 9:00 p.m., MSG PLUS 2, ALT
Winnipeg @ Calgary, 9:00 p.m., TSN-JETS, SNET-W, SNET-CGY
Vancouver @ Phoenix, 9:00 p.m., SNET-P, FS-A
KINGS FACE FAMILIAR FOE IN BLUES
The Kings (28-14-5, 61 points) visit the Blues (32-8-5, 69 points) at Scottrade Center in a national telecast on NBCSN in the U.S. and TSN2 in Canada. These clubs have faced off 19 times since the start of the 2011-12 season, with the Kings posting a 15-4-0 record in those meetings, including a pair of series victories in the 2012 and 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blues are 10-1-1 in their past 12 games overall, including five straight wins on home ice. The Kings are 3-1-1 in their last five overall, but have lost five in a row as visitors.
ERIKSSON RETURNS TO DALLAS
Loui Eriksson makes his first visit to Dallas since an offseason trade sent to 28-year-old forward to Boston. Eriksson played the first seven seasons of his NHL career for the Stars, compiling 150-207—357 in 501 regular-season games and 4-5—9 in 22 playoff contests.
“I kind of figured I would play with Dallas all of my life. But, things happen, and you make the most of them,” Eriksson told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m happy with this team, and I’m excited about the future, but I still want the Stars to do well.”