Washington‘s 3-2 victory over the Islanders was the second this week in the Game of the Day series that required overtime to determine the recipient of the two points.
It was actually New York who scored the first and only goal of the first period, courtesy of John Tavares’ wrister at the 15:41 mark, assisted by Nick Leddy (his 23rd helper of the season).
Washington leveled the score only 1:25 after returning from the intermission with a goal from Alex Ovechkin. His wrister was assisted by Evggeny Kuzetsov (his 42nd helper of the season) and Justin Williams. They took the lead only 1:37 later with another goal from Ovechkin, this time a snap shot on the power play. This goal was assisted by Nicklas Backstrom (his 37th helper of the season) and T. J. Oshie. The Capitals held the 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
New York leveled the game with only 1:44 remaining of the game. Frans Nielsen takes credit, assisted by Kyle Okposo (his 30th helper of the season) and Travis Hamonic.
Washington had no interest in going to a shootout, so Williams made sure his slap shot with only 46 seconds remaining in overtime was pure, as he was assisted by John Carlson (his 25th helper of the season) and Matt Niskanen.
Braden Holtby earns the win after saving 20 of 22 (90.9%), while Thomas Greiss takes the loss after saving 32 of 35 (91.4%).
The Game of the Day series now stands at 56-29-12, favoring the home squads by 32 points over the roadies.
It’s not a very busy schedule this evening, as there’s only five games on the docket. As usual, the action gets started at 7 p.m. eastern with three games (the New York Islanders at New Jersey, San Jose at Carolina and Buffalo at Columbus), while Philadelphia at Montréal (NHLN) dropping the puck half an hour later. The final game of the night drops the puck at 9 p.m. eastern, when Vancouver visits Calgary.
There are only two divisional rivalries being played this evening (New York at New Jersey and Vancouver at Calgary), and none of the games are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.
Since Vancouver and Calgary met in the playoffs last season, let’s take a trip down memory lane and watch that game.
Tonight’s game will be Vancouver‘s fifth in the Game of the Day series, where they currently own a 2-2-0 record. Their most recent time featured was January 15 when they beat the Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime in Raleigh. Calgary has been featured much more recently, as we focused on their game against the Ducks on Monday, which they lost 6-4. That game was their second in the series, and they have yet to earn even a point when featured.
The 22-23-12 Vancouver Canucks currently sit in fifth place in the Pacific Division and 11th in the Western Conference, eight points out of a playoff position. They play the 12th worst defense in the league, which is made even worse by being backed by the second-worst offense.
Even with Chris Tanev’s team-leading 124 blocks, Vancouver has still allowed 1759 shots to reach 12-17-9 Ryan Miller and co., of which they’ve saved 91.8% for 157 goals against, 12th-most in the league. Although the defense has not played as well, the penalty kill has been slightly above average, killing 81.11% for 34 power play goals against, 14th-best in the league.
That being said, the Canucks‘ offense makes their defense look best in the league. Even with Daniel Sedin’s 190 shots, Vancouver has only fired the puck 1607 times, with 8% finding the back of the net for 133 goals (led by Sedin’s 22 tallies), second-worst in the NHL. Much of Vancouver‘s issues can be found by the lack of success on the power play, which ranks fifth-worst in the league by connecting on only 16.96% of extra-man opportunities for 29 power play goals (led by Sedin’s six). To add insult to injury, Vancouver has allowed five short-handed goals, one more than the league average.
Vancouver is currently riding a three-game losing skid, with their most recent being a 5-2 loss to the Ducks last night in Rogers Arena. A win this evening would pull the Canucks within two points of the Coyotes for fourth in the division and only six points out of a playoff position.
The 25-28-3 Calgary Flames currently sit in sixth in the Pacific Division and 13th in the Western Conference. They play the 13th best offense in the league, paired with the fourth-worst defense. A more in-depth analysis of Calgary‘s game can be found within Monday’s post.
Calgary is also riding a three-game win streak, with their most recent being a 5-3 loss to the Wild on Wednesday. Should the Flames end their losing skid, they would move past Winnipeg into 13th position in the conference.
Calgary currently leads the season series against the Canucks 2-1-0, with their most recent meeting on February 6 in Vancouver, where the Flames won 4-1.
These teams also met in last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinal playoffs, where the Flames won the series 4-2 with a deciding 7-4 victory.
Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Calgary‘s Johnny Gaudreau (55 points [tied for seventh-most in the league]) and Vancouver‘s Sedin (46 points, with 22 goals, 16 of which were at even-strength and six were on the power play, with another six being game-winners, all on 190 shots [all lead the team]).
Neither team’s defense has played well at all this season, but Calgary seems to be the only team of these two prone to take advantage of that fact. Expect the Flames to get two points.