Game recaps, plus updates on Jiri Hudler, Morgan Rielly, Bo Horvat and the Oilers’ limited improvement under coach Todd Nelson.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Tyler Johnson’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens, moving the Lightning to within one point of the Habs for first in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. Carey Price was once again the hero for the Canadiens, who were outshot 36-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens continue to struggle offensively whilst relying on Price to bail them out. This doesn’t bode well for their hopes of a possible Stanley Cup run this season. The Lightning didn’t blow out the Habs as they did in their previous two meetings this season but they certainly have the Canadiens number. Habs fans better pray their club doesn’t face the Lightning in the postseason.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets rally from a 4-1 deficit was spoiled by goalie Ondrej Pavelec giving up the winning goal on a floater from center by Barret Jackman as the Blues edged the Jets 5-4. Pavelec replaced Michael Hutchinson, who allowed four goals on just seven shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That performance pretty much typifies Pavelec’s NHL career: he’ll play great for stretches and then gives up a back-breaking goal. The Jets had rode Hutchinson’s previously strong goaltending to playoff contention but he’s faltered of late, which could have a crippling effect upon their postseason hopes.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Tuukka Rask made 39 saves as the Boston Bruins dealt the Ottawa Senators playoff hopes a blow with a 3-1 victory. The Bruins broke the game open with three second-period goals on Senators starter Craig Anderson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many observers (including me) are questioning Senators coach Dave Cameron’s decision to start Anderson instead of Andrew Hammond, whose red-hot play (7-0-1 in eight games) resulted in the Senators climbing back into playoff contention. The Senators could’ve climbed to within three points of the Bruins with a win, but now find themselves seven points back with 17 games remaining. There’s still time to overcome this deficit, but every game counts now for Ottawa.
CALGARY SUN: Veteran Jiri Hudler is providing a good example for youngsters Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau to follow.
TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly is trying to see the positives in an otherwise horrible season for his club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rielly’s been among the few bright spots for the Leafs this season.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: 19-year-old Canucks rookie Bo Horvat is improving with each passing game.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have made only marginal improvement under interim coach Todd Nelson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not Nelson’s fault, as he’s been given very little to work with. Scotty Bowman couldn’t get much improvement out of this year’s version of the Oilers.