Try as they might, though, Tampa was no match for the Panthers, as Florida went on a tear, setting the pace early with two goals in 22 seconds en route to a 6-2 victory. This was Florida's 6th win in their last 7 games against Tampa Bay (maybe the Pens could learn a thing or two?)~Buffalo ran out their backups again tonight (that's the truth: they have eight regulars out with injury right now). This game was so uneventful that the third star went to a Toronto defenseman who didn't do anything. 3-1 Sabres, and the Leafs are now another tick closer to that looming line below #8 in the standings.
~New York, Rangers Type kept their slimmest of playoff hopes alive tonight, overcoming an early 2-0 deficit and proceeding to ride the impeccable goaltending of...Sebastian Valiquette? He is apparently new to this whole winning thing, judging by his celebration after the shootout - 3-2 Rangers.
~The Nashville Predators spent the night staying true to their roots. They enjoyed two plus periods of toying with the Kings, even allowing a couple of pretty goals to Mike Cammalleri while falling behind 3-2 just over five minutes into the third period. The Preds then buckled down and got serious...mostly:
Nashville even found time for some line dancing
The guys from Graceland apparently were cruising so much that they even found time to grab a kid from the crowd and let him suit up on the top line (how else do you explain that babyfaced #25?). They cruised through the third period and wound up with a 6-3 win.
~It could be argued that Boston and Montreal are close enough to the cliff that this game doesn't really have meaning, but there's always momentum. Montreal didn't do much to help their case tonight, only managing 16 shots in the first two periods, though they clearly were a bit distracted by, well, other things:
"Eww! Eww! A spider! Kill it!"
The Canadiens finally woke up and started shooting in the third period, but to no avail, Boston walked away with both points in a 3-1 win, also keeping their own slim hopes alive.
~The Capitals, on the other hand, refused to help the Pens tonight. They came out flat, only managing five shots in the first period, and another eight in the second. Things were looking bleak, with the Caps down 4-0 after two, so the team got creative with their tactics:
Washington goes old school and pulls both goalies to try and gain an advantage
It appeared to work briefly, as they registered two goals, but it was too little too late, as the Islanders notched two more of ther own in a 6-2 victory.
The important numbers:
Team GP PTS
1.* BUF 65 93
2.* NJ 65 87
3.* TB 67 78
4.OTT 65 80
5.PIT 64 77
6.ATL 66 76
7.NYI 65 75
8.CAR 67 73
9.MTL 68 72
10.TOR 66 71
11.NYR 65 69
12.BOS 64 67
13.FLA 66 67
The important games tomorrow: obviously, the Pens go for a season sweep of Philly, Carolina is at Atlanta, Boston goes to New Jersey, and Ottawa heads to Chicago. Plus a few games out west that are probably important.