Thursday was a busy night, with nine games that had an impact on the NHL playoff races (OK, eight that affected things … the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers basically just continued their downward spirals toward the bottom).
Let’s just keep things simple and get straight to the game summaries, shall we?
DETROIT 5, PITTSBURGH 4 (OT)
-- I dipped my toes in the water regarding recommending Gustav Nyquist before, but it’s clear that a) the Red Wings are giving the talented 24-year-old the ball and b) he’s shown that he is capable of running with it. Nyquist now has four goals and one assist for five points in a three-game point streak (two PPG, 12 SOG in that span). The Swedish born forward is only owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues, and while he isn't dominant peripherals-wise, I can't see much reason why you shouldn't give him a shot if you need an offensive contributor.
-- Each team featured at least one bonehead moment from a potential supplementary discipline standpoint, with James Neal possibly opening the door for a suspension with a cross check to the head while David Legwand received a game misconduct for butt ending Evgeni Malkin.
-- The opportunity is at least there for Lee Stempniak, so I’d keep an eye on him. If you feel strongly about his chances of delivering on his opportunity, then go for it.
LOS ANGELES 2, WASHINGTON 1 (SO)
-- I’ve criticized the Washington Capitals for adding Joel Ward before, but even if context explains some of this away, it’s impressive that Ward collected his 22nd goal of the season last night … the same as Anze Kopitar has at this point in the season (he also scored on Thursday).
-- It looks like Marian Gaborik is really starting to get his feet under him with the Los Angeles Kings. Gaborik now has four points in his last four games (two goals, two assists) and scored a nice shootout goal on top of his assist last night specifically. He's not widely available at 79 percent owned, but if there's any chance, you know what to do.
SAN JOSE 3, ANAHEIM 2
-- Martin Havlat's been a more useful forward for the Sharks lately. Does that translate into being worth adding? No, not really. But considering the injury issues he's dealt with lately, it's nice to see.
-- Not a bad job by Brent Burns this season in backing up his great 2012-13 season. Thanks to two goals and two assists in his last two games, he now has 20 goals and 39 points in 58 games this season. Injuries have been an issue, and there have been some rough patches, but he's been especially useful if he is still D-eligible for you.
COLUMBUS 3, MONTREAL 2
-- Ryan Johansen isn't just putting together the best season in his three-year career, he's dwarfing his previous efforts. He has more goals (27 vs. 14), assists (25 vs. 19) and points (52 vs. 33) this season than he had in 2011-12 and 2012-13 combined. You could say he's even looking like the kind of guy who could be the fourth pick of the 2010 NHL Draft. He actually produced the kind of numbers you'd expect from Brandon Dubinsky last night: one goal, nine PIM, seven SOG, one hit and two blocked shots.
-- Thomas Vanek is heating up now, following his hat trick with a goal on Thursday. He now has 25 goals and 58 points in 67 games spread out between three different teams.
-- Gotta say, I'm a bit surprised to see Sergei Bobrovsky (27-17-4) with a comparable record to Carey Price (28-18-5) this season.
PHILADELPHIA 4, DALLAS 2
-- The Dallas Stars might be struggling right now, but the team's biggest stars aren't slowing down. Jamie Benn scored two goals while Tyler Seguin collected two assists. Seguin has an impressive seven-game point streak going (six goals, eight assists), giving him 72 points in 67 games played so far this season.
-- Wayne Simmonds: still having a great season. He hit the 23-goal mark last night.
TAMPA BAY 5, OTTAWA 4
-- Teddy Purcell scored his first two goals since Jan. 19 last night thanks in part to firing seven SOG. He's had some strong and weak months here and there, with October (nine points in 12 games) and January (11 in 15) standing out as his best this season. Overall, he has 40 points in 70 games in 2013-14.
-- Erik Karlsson is on a five-game point streak (one goal, six assists). He has nearly a point-per-game this season with 64 in 69 games. The only minus (if you will) is his -20 mark.
-- Valtteri Filppula isn't upping his SOG output, yet he's making the most of such shots and passes; he's now on a seven-game point streak (three goals, eight assists). He's been a fantastic addition to Tampa Bay and one cannot help but at least wonder if Detroit's situation would be a little more comfortable if they worked harder to keep him instead of going with Stephen Weiss instead. (Then again, maybe Filppula would just be injured right now).
NEW JERSEY 4, MINNESOTA 3 (OT)
-- Zach Parise scored in his boos-filled return to New Jersey, giving him 24 tallies on the season. Amazingly, Jaromir Jagr is just one tally behind him with 23; even with injuries for Parise in mind, that's quite the accomplishment for Jagr at his age.
-- The good news is that Ilya Bryzgalov has been strong with Minnesota so far, not losing in regulation and generating a .931 save percentage in three games. The bad news is that he only has one win.
-- Patrik Elias continues to be a productive player. Thanks to six points in four games, he now has 48 in 55 overall this season.
PHOENIX 2, FLORIDA 1
-- Antoine Vermette has quietly put together quite the solid career: four 20+ goal seasons and two more with exactly 19. A little surprised he has more goals than Radim Vrbata, though.
-- Martin Hanzal's one goal away from tying his career-high of 16 goals and already has a best mark with 39 points. He's also generating his usually impressive PIM (71 in 57 games played) and is fantastic in the hits and FW categories as well.
-- It's weird to call 38 points in 68 games disappointing for Oliver Ekman-Larsson, especially since that represents the best mark of his career. Still, his offensive talent is such that it was tempting to expect almost-Karlsson-level numbers. (Maybe I was getting a little ahead of myself there.)
BUFFALO 3, EDMONTON 1
-- Cory Conacher had quite a night with two goals and one assist. After a respectable 20 points in 60 games with Ottawa (still a little surprised they risked letting him walk for nothing), the small center now has five points, 10 PIM, a game-winning goal and 15 SOG in seven games with Buffalo. Not sure I'd add him necessarily, but worth following.
-- Drew Stafford is showing a surprising amount of zest lately, with a goal or an assist (five goals, one helper) in six out of his last seven contests. Maybe he can get his act together after it seemed like he was out of it for a while there.
-- Ben Scrivens has lost three of four games, yet he's still generating nice individual numbers (.931 with Edmonton).
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