Game recaps, the decline in NHL scoring plus the latest on Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Leddy, Bryan Bickell and more.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Kevin Hayes scored a highlight-reel goal, Rick Nash potted the game winner and Cam Talbot made 29 saves as the New York Rangers edged the New York Islanders 2-1. Barring a potential playoff matchup, this game could be the last between the two clubs at the Nassau Coliseum. It proved a costly loss for the Islanders, as defenseman Nick Leddy left the game with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I am crossing my fingers hoping these long-time rivals meet in the playoffs. It could be one of the best series of this year’s postseason.
TWINCITIES.COM: Devan Dubnyk made his 25th straight start for the Minnesota Wild, backstopping them to a 6-2 drubbing of the New Jersey Devils. Thomas Vanek scored twice while Zach Parise, Chris Stewart and Jared Spurgeon enjoyed two-point performances.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I know the Wild are battling for a playoff spot, this would’ve been a good opportunity to let Dubnyk rest. They risk burning him out down the stretch, which could jeopardize their playoff hopes.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Brayden McNabb tallied a goal and set up two others as the Los Angeles Kings downed the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Kari Lehtonen overcame a shaky start to make 25 saves backstopping the Dallas Stars to a 2-1 win over the slumping Philadelphia Flyers. Vernon Fiddler scored the winning goal for the Stars. The Flyers made veteran winger R.J. Umberger a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not surprised Umberger was scratched, as he’s on pace for a career-worst 18 points over a full NHL season.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: After an uncharacteristic outburst from goalie Sergei Bobrovsky over three straight screened goals, the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied to down the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in a shootout.
Note: Games involving Canadian NHL teams are recapped in “Canadian Corner.”
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said his recovery from abdominal surgery is on track, though there’s no timetable for his return to action. He remains listed as week-to-week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected the All-Star defenseman could return for the final games of the regular season or the opening round of the playoffs.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell hopes to get back on track after being a healthy scratch from his club’s recent game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: When properly motivated (“I play better mad,” claims Bickell) he’s a very effective power forward. The problem for Bickell is he’s lacking that motivation for lengthy periods.
MIAMI HERALD: Dan Ellis could get the call again in goal for the Florida Panthers if Roberto Luongo (shoulder injury) isn’t ready to go on Thursday.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings rookie Teemu Pulkkinen is getting the hang of how to score in the NHL.
CSNWASHINGTON.COM: Former Capitals and current Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jack Hillen suffered his second concussion in two years just three games after being acquired by the Hurricanes.
CBS SPORTS: NHL teams are getting fewer power plays and scoring fewer goals as a result. One reason for the decline is obstruction is slowly crawling back into the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league must not allow uncalled obstruction to dominate the game again. One way to perhaps rectify this problem is to go back to the old rule where a penalty didn’t end because the team with the man advantage scores.
NATIONAL POST: Meet Evgeny Romasko, the first – and likely not the last – Russian referee to call an NHL game.