You wouldn't know it from the shot totals (the Isles were outshot 54-25), but the Pittsburgh Penguins were done in by spotty defense on this night. Nielsen capitalized on their struggles for a 3-point night, scoring the Islanders' first and last goals and picking up an assist in a 5-3 Islanders win. He finished the night a plus-4. Josh Bailey collected 3 helpers in the win as well.
No. 2 Star: Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues
Elliott stopped all 24 shots he faced for his league-leading 9th shutout of the season and his 3rd in a freaking row in a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators. With the two points, the Blues pulled 4 ahead of the Canucks for tops in the Western Conference and remained two ahead of the Rangers for 1st in the league. The 60 minutes of perfect hockey pushed him to 186:33 since his last goal, which broke Manny Legace's franchise-record shutout streak of 186:15.
No. 3 Star: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Miller was all-world Tuesday, reminding anyone who doubted him earlier in the season why he's still the guy you want in big games. He stopped 44 of 45 shots he faced in the Sabres massive, 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals, which vaulted Buffalo into sole possession of 8th place and put them fully in control of their own destiny. Drew Stafford scored twice in the win, including the final goal to ice the victory on a 3-on-1. Slick feed from Tyler Ennis:
Honourable mention: Ryan McDonagh, quietly one of the league's best sophomore players this season, led the New York Rangers with two assists including one on Ruslan Fedotenko's game-winner in a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild ... Steven Stamkos scored his 54th and 55th goals of the season Tuesday, the only two goals for the Lightning in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. Can the man reach 60? If he keeps shooting like this he can. Holy cow.
... Wojtek Wolski opened the scoring for the Florida Panthers and then he finished it off, burying the only goal of the shootout for a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The win put the Panthers ever closer to the Southeast title with a 5-point lead on the Washington Capitals and a game in hand ... In game no. 1002, Zdeno Chara picked up 3 assists in the Bruins' victory over the Lightning... James Neal scored twice in the Penguins' loss, with Evgeni Malkin picking up assists on each goal, unsurprisingly ... Martin Brodeur stole a game for the New Jersey Devils, making 37 saves in a 2-1 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Travis Zajac, who returned to the Devils' lineup on Sunday, scored the shootout winner ... With the Toronto Maple Leafs desperately holding onto the outside chance of a playoff spot, Cam Ward shut them out, stopping all 32 shots he faced in a 3-0 win at the Air Canada Centre.
Did you know? Patrick Sharp's shootout goal marked the first time this season someone other than Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane has scored in the skills competition for the Blackhawks. [@ckamka]
Dishonourable mention: I mentioned the Leafs desperation, but they hardly showed it, allowing two goals in the first period and never really looking in the game. The final five minutes of the game were scored by boos from the ACC faithful ... It wasn't goalies' night for Marc-Andre Fleury. This is probably the worst this Frans Nielsen breakaway could have gone for him:
- New York Islanders
- Frans Nielsen
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Washington Capitals
- Buffalo Sabres