Ray Whitney gives a stick to a woman that looks like Jenna Maroney (AP)
It was fan appreciation night in Phoenix, so this lucky fan just got Ray Whitney's signed stick on the night he scored his 1000th NHL point, no big deal.
No. 1 Star: Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
Smith was unbeatable through 60 minutes versus the Anaheim Ducks. He was tested 44 times, but he turned away each shot to record the shutout and give the Coyotes a 4-0 win. Ray Whitney led the way with a goal and an assist, the latter of which was his 1000th career point:
Pavelski scored two big goals for the Sharks in their huge 3-0 victory over the Dallas Stars, opening and closing the scoring for the home team. He had 5 shots on goal, one off Patrick Marleau's team-high. Antti Niemi made 22 saves for the shutout. With the win, the Sharks jump back into 8th and the Stars plummet all the way from 3rd to 9th.
No. 3 Star: Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
Kovalchuk scored his 34th goal of the season and added two assists in the Devils' 5-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Martin Brodeur picked up the shutout, the 119th of his career, and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist. But enough about the individual accomplishments -- with the win, the Devils officially clinched a playoff berth.
Honourable mention: Steven Stamkos's 56th goal of the season was the overtime winner in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Ryan Malone scored the Lightning's other two goals, the first of which came on the classic, Nelson Muntz-esque lob pass to himself:
With the loss, the Jets are officially eliminated from playoff contention. But they had some company because, despite the win, so were the Lightning ... R.J. Umberger scored twice and Allen York made 34 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets stunned the St. Louis Blues with a 5-2 win. The Blues clinched the Central Division despite the loss, but they opened the door for the Vancouver Canucks to take over top spot in the West ... The Canucks did just that, as Andrew Ebbett scored the overtime winner in his first game back from three months out with a broken collarbone to give the Canucks a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames and 1st place in the Western Conference. The single point wasn't enough for the Flames, who were officially eliminated ... Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, and Andrew Shaw all had 2-point nights as the Chicago Blackhawks held on to knock off the Nashville Predators 5-4 and clinch a playoff spot. Shea Weber scored two goals and Ryan Suter had 3 assists in the loss, but Alex Radulov scored the goal of the night:
... Erik Christensen had a goal, an assist, and one of two shootout goals for the Minnesota Wild in their 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. In his second career NHL game, Jason Zucker picked up two assists ... Michael Neuvirth made 39 saves to help the Washington Capitals hold on through sixty minutes, then didn't allow a single goal in the shootout as the Capitals skated away with a big 3-2 win ... The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, did not fare so well against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Led by Joey Crabb's 2-point night and Phil Kessel's career-high 37th goal of the season, the Leafs stunned the Sabres, 4-3. With the loss, the Capitals leapfrog the Sabres and finish the night back in 8th place ... Jason Spezza opened the scoring and ended it in the shootout in the Ottawa Senators' big 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers ... David Krejci scored twice, and Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin had 1 goal and 2 assists each as the Boston Bruins topped the New York Islanders, 6-3, eliminating them from playoff contention.
Did you know? The Maple Leafs' win was their first at home in 54 days.
Dishonourable mention: The Senators led 3-0 through the first period versus Philadelphia before surrendering 3 goals in the second period ... Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek finished a minus-2 for the Sabres in a game they had no business losing. After the loss, the media caught Lindy Ruff looking skyward, and when they asked him if he was scoreboard-watching, he said he'd been looking a little higher, "To the big guy." It's not a bad idea. It may not take a miracle at this point for the Sabres to make the playoffs, but according to Sportsclubstats, they have only an 11.6% chance of making the playoffs, so it will take something pretty close to one.
- Ray Whitney
- San Jose Sharks