With the playoff race coming down to the critical stretch, there's plenty of action today. What else would ya expect on the final Saturday before the NHL version of a holiday known to puck fans as Deadline Day. It's now less than 48 hours away!
We will provide extensive coverage of all the deals which go down.
There have already been a couple of games of note which affect both the Atlantic and Eastern races. Earlier today, the Devils finally got a win over the Islanders defeating them 4-2 at The Prudential Center to temporarily take over the conference lead with 77 points.
A shorthanded tally by John Madden and a Patrik Elias goal had them out in front 2-1 but the Isles got a tying goal from Ruslan Fedotenko. Faced with the prospect of once again falling short against a division rival from the metro area, the more rested Devs peppered Rick DiPietro in the third outshooting the Fishsticks 20-4.
Not surprisingly, they finally had the magic formula as money player Zach Parise notched the winner 2:30 in for his Devil-leading 25th (fifth in last five contests). Brian Gionta made certain that there was no Isles' comeback by getting to a rebound in front for his third in the last six 2:13 later.
Marty Brodeur didn't have a busy day but was his stellar self turning aside 19 of 21 shots to win his league-leading 34th.
The win had the Devs leading the conference. However, with the Pens hosting the Sens, something had to give and did.
In another unpredictable game which was plenty exciting, the defending Eastern Conference champs showed plenty of resolve coming back from three goals down to pull out a 4-3 overtime road victory over Evgeni Malkin and the Pens.
The Penguins jumped out in front by three thanks to goals from Petr Sykora, Colby Armstrong and Jeff Taffe. But the Sens fought back thanks to a goal from recent pickup Cory Stillman and two from Dany Heatley including the tying marker with 13:51 remaining. HIs 30th came on a nice Randy Robitaille setup in front easily beating Ty Conklin.
The game would wind up in overtime and the Pens would come close to ending it twice. On the first one, Ryan Malone thought he had it won but hit the crossbar. The other was when Malkin came in on a two-on-one and Ray Emery just got a piece of it to push it wide.
The Sens instead would pick up a huge win off a broken play very late. Off a broken play, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson backhanded his team best 35th through Conklin with only three seconds left to give them a huge win.
It gave Ottawa one more point than the Devils allowing them to stay tops in the conference for the 144th consecutive day according to Hockey Night In Canada (HNIC).
The Pens meanwhile got a point but not the kind they had in mind. They trail the Devils by a point with each team having 20 games to go in the regular season.
For the first time this month, Malkin was held off the scoresheet. He entered leading the league with 82 points (35-47-82) and had points in the first 10 games including a ridiculous eight multi-point nights. It wasn't from lack of effort as maybe the front runner for the Hart Trophy generated plenty of chances. He just couldn't finish.
With the Eastern race extremely close, please note the new Eastern Conference standings at the top left corner of the page. We will be keeping track of everything down the final six weeks.
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