NEW YORK – It is hard to understand how teams in the East cannot find any long-term consistency and when they do, like the Columbus Blue Jackets, they lose to a team they should have beaten easily, like the Columbus Blue Jackets’ loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.
The Jackets had come into the game on an eight-game streak.
“You have to have a little Lady Luck on your side and you have to have strong goaltending,” Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. “Tonight was a combination of that.”
Ryan Miller made 36 saves to earn the win.
The Sabres benefitted from lucky bounces and errant looks at the puck by the Jackets’ defense in their own zone.
“A couple of those goals had seeing eyes,” Nolan said. “I’m not too sure how they got in. You get them in once in a while like that, but the whole game here tonight was Ryan Miller. He was sensational again.
“We had the No. 1 guy that we needed to play and that was Ryan Miller. When he’s on, you don’t see too much better goaltending anywhere.”
The story was much the same in Dallas where the Stars blanked the visiting Penguins on Kari Lehtonen’s 24 saves in a 3-0 win for the West.
“I’ve just been trying to do what I’ve been doing,” Lehtonen said. “The guys in front of me played really well. In the first period, we were dominating. They got a couple of chances on the power play and that’s it.”
The Stars are suddenly hot after recovering from a freefall that saw the club unable to hold late leads in games.
“The last three games have all been excellent in all three zones,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “This one against a highly-skilled team and taking care of special teams probably knocks the other two down a little bit.”
Having had two games with success, the Stars looked to continue that trend and climb up the ladder in the Western Conference. The Penguins were unable to solve the relentless Dallas pressure.
“They’re really pushing hard right now to get into the playoffs. This is desperation for them and we saw that in their last two games. We saw it again tonight,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “This was a desperate team, played hard. We have to be able to match that regardless of where our position is or what the standings look like.”
In Winnipeg, the visiting Maple Leafs rallied from a 4-1 deficit but still lost and are now seemingly cold after a brief streak that saw them claw their way back into the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture.
The Leafs did manage to take a point from the loss in the 5-4 win by the Jets in OT.
“An overtime win on a Saturday night against the Leafs?” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We’ll take it and enjoy every inch of it.”
Dustin Byfuglien got the game winner in extra time with a wrist shot at 2:44 of the OT.
“I think that’s been our big thing around here: Sticking with the game plan and not getting away from it,” Byfuglien said. “You stick with it, you’re bound to get your shots and opportunities to score. It’s just a matter of doing it when you get the chances.”
The loss put the Leafs’ record on their four-game road swing at 2-1-1.
“We found a way to get a point back being down 4-1,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. “There were a lot of positives that took place after, and you’ve got to credit our guys with finding a way to claw back and do that.
“We could have grabbed another point, but we’ll take it,” Carlyle added. “We were looking for some form of a response. With the way the game started out for us, it was a heck of a response for us to get a point.”
Carolina 6 Ottawa 3
NY Islanders 3 St Louis 4 SO
Philadelphia 1 Boston 6
Montreal 0 Washington 5
Tampa Bay 5 Colorado 2
Columbus 2 Buffalo 5
Winnipeg 5 Toronto 4 OT
Dallas 3 Pittsburgh 0
Los Angeles 0 Anaheim 3
San Jose 3 Minnesota 2 OT
HILLER, DUCKS DEFEAT KINGS AT DODGER STADIUM
Led by 36 saves from Jonas Hiller, the Ducks defeated the Kings 3-0 in front of a sold-out crowd at Dodger Stadium in the first contest of the four-game 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.
* Hiller recorded the second shutout in a regular-season outdoor NHL game, following Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who turned aside all 39 shots by the Canadiens in a 4-0 victory in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
* Hiller also stopped the second penalty shot in outdoor game history when he denied Anze Kopitar at 9:46 of the first period. Henrik Lundqvist stopped Daniel Briere in the only other penalty shot in outdoor game history, securing a 3-2 win for the Rangers in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
* Hiller posted his fourth shutout of 2013-14, tied for second in the NHL, and the 20th of his career. He has won 15 of his past 17 decisions and is 24-6-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 35 appearances this season.
* Corey Perry scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 2:45 of the first period. He leads the NHL with nine game-winning goals this season and 31 since the start of 2010-11, seven more than the next-closest player (Lightning forward Steven Stamkos).
* The Ducks improved to 39-10-5 (83 points), their best record ever through 54 games and seven points ahead of the Blackhawks (32-9-12) for first place in the NHL standings. They are 21-3-0 in their last 24 outings, including a 10-2-0 mark on the road.
* Visiting clubs improved to 7-1-1 all-time in regular-season outdoor NHL games.
* With a sold-out crowd of 54,099 at Dodger Stadium, total attendance for the nine regular-season outdoor NHL games rose to 523,004, an average of 58,112 per game.
* ICYMI: Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully welcomed fans to Dodger Stadium . . . Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin and Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy posted new blog entries following their meeting in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series . . . Click here for a gallery of images from the game.
“It was awesome. It was an unbelievable experience and something I’ll remember for a long time. It was really, really cool and I feel lucky to be a part of it.” – Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler
“You can’t say one thing negative. We should do this in Anaheim and San Jose should do it. Everybody should do it. It was unbelievable.” – Ducks forward Teemu Selanne
“It was so cool coming out – we felt like rock stars. But we are not. We are simple hockey players, but for one night that was something.” – Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy
“The view from the bench, looking out across the ice and into the stands was pretty amazing. You never see that many fans at a hockey game, so it was an amazing feeling to see that. It was a great experience. Something I’ll always remember.” – Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
“There are things you see other players get to do that make you envious. These outdoor games were one of those things. This is something none of us probably ever thought would happen here.” – Ducks forward Dustin Penner
“That was a blast. It was a weird hockey game, obviously, but a lot of fun to play in. The fans were great – both sides. It was just awesome. It was a blast.” – Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf
“Not too many people can say they were at an outdoor game in California, let alone that they got to play in one. It was really cool. I’m really fortunate to be a part of it. The atmosphere was amazing and the fans were really loud.” – Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin
“We had the Pope here. We had the Beatles here. Now we have hockey here.” – Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda
“It was bizarre. It was wonderful. Let’s do it again soon.” – Helene Elliott (Los Angeles Times)
“We say it every outdoor game: That was surreal. We say it so often that surreal doesn’t feel surreal anymore. A hockey game in an iconic football or baseball stadium? Been there, done that. If not here, then somewhere. But this was surreal in its own way.” – Nick Cotsonika (Yahoo! Sports)
“There was an energy unlike anything typically generated by a normal NHL game, an eager sensation that could have raised the hairs on a kiwi. History was happening and – contrived as it might have been – it was undeniably real.” – Jeff Miller (Orange County Register)
“If Los Angeles is a big-event city that revels in the glitz, then the NHL proved it can play with the big boys with a lead-up to the game that simply hit all the right notes, including [Wayne] Gretzky’s appearance to drop the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff to a thunderous ovation.” – Scott Burnside (ESPN)
Tyler Johnson (3-0—3) became the second rookie in Lightning history to record a hat trick, following Steven Stamkos on Feb. 17, 2009. Johnson has 16-18—34 in 52 games this season, tied for the most points among rookies with Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (17-17—34) . . . A day after signing dual three-year contract extensions, Joe Thornton (2-0—2) and Patrick Marleau (1-0—1) combined for all three goals to lead the Sharks to their sixth straight win . . . Alex Ovechkin scored his League-leading 36th goal of the season to help the Capitals end a seven-game losing streak. The team improved to 9-1-1 in its past 11 games in Montreal, including seven consecutive victories . . . Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves to earn his third shutout of the season and the 25th of his NHL career . . . Dustin Byfuglien scored his seventh career overtime goal, and sixth with the Jets/Thrashers franchise, to help the Jets improve to 5-1-0 under Paul Maurice . . . Bruins forward Jarome Iginla (2-2—4) posted his 95th career multi-goal game.
SNEAK PEEK AT SUNDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
NY Rangers @ New Jersey, 12:30 p.m., NBC, CBC
Florida @ Detroit, 5:00 p.m., FS-F, FS-D+
Winnipeg @ Chicago, 7:00 p.m., TSN-JETS, CSN-CH
Nashville @ Edmonton, 8:00 p.m., FS-TN, SNET-W
Phoenix @ Vancouver, 8:00 p.m., FS-A PLUS, SNET-P