Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Matinees for area locals

All three area locals are currently in action on a busy Saturday. The Rangers are visiting the Flyers. At last check, they led 2-1 after one with goals from Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik. Wayne Simmonds has the Flyer goal. The Blueshirts lead Philadelphia by six points for the division. So, it's a pretty big game. Our team also has two games in hand but another win would put even more distance between us and the Flyers.

Meanwhile, across the Hudson the Devils are hosting the Panthers, who lead the Southeast over Washington due to one less game played. Both have 61 points while third Winnipeg is three behind following a stunning 3-2 shootout comeback triumph over the Caps the other night. Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien scored 12 seconds apart to erase a late two-goal Washington lead. That division may only place one team in. So, whoever wins it is huge. The Devs are trying to bounce back from a tough home shootout loss in which they let a one-goal lead slip to St. Louis with Johan Hedberg victimized by T.J. Oshie for the only shootout goal. Only their third such defeat in 12 tries. Martin Brodeur is back in against former backup Scott Clemmensen. The Cats just surged ahead 2-1 on a goal from Kris Versteeg. Steve Bernier has his first for New Jersey while Sean Bergenheim has the other Florida tally.

On Long Island where they honored the past including former defenseman Kenny Jonsson prior to the start by inducting him into their Hall Of Fame, the Islanders and Kings are tied up at one. Dustin Brown just knotted it in the second. Michael Grabner got his 15th in the first from Mark Eaton and Kyle Okposo. It's Evgeni Nabokov against Jon Quick in net. The Isles need every win while LA's in a tight race with Phoenix, Dallas, Colorado and Minnesota for the final two spots.

Updating the Ranger game, Claude Giroux has tied it with his 22nd from Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. Might it be one of those three-point games later today? They've gotten to Henrik Lundqvist twice, which has to boost their confidence while the Blueshirts have tallied their two against Sergei Bobrovsky. And just as we're typing away, Callahan has his second of the day and third in two games on the Rangers' second power play goal of the game. This isn't a misprint. It actually happened! Stop the presses. Mike Del Zotto and Gaborik set it up. So, the Rangers now lead 3-2 with half of regulation left.

In other action last night, the Sabres earned a big two points by coming back to stun Dallas 3-2 in a skill competition. They rallied from a two-goal third period deficit, including Derek Roy's equalizer at 19:21 with Ryan Miller on the bench for an extra attacker. Nathan Gerbe's backhand top shelf beat Kari Lehtonen and Michael Ryder missed against Miller as Buffalo climbed to 54 points. They still trail Winnipeg by four and eighth Toronto by eight with 28 games remaining. They are hot though and there's still enough time left. Especially with Miller back on and Thomas Vanek scoring last night. Even Ville Leino is contributing. He had two assists in a 6-0 drubbing of Boston earlier this week. Buffalo hosts the Lightning tonight at 7.

The other game of note is Winnipeg visiting Pittsburgh. So far, it's the Jets leading 2-zip on goals from Kyle Wellwood and Alex Burmistrov. What a great story it would be if they somehow won the Southeast in their first year back. It should be some finish. We'll try to have more later.

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