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There is less than two weeks remaining in the NHL season and the playoff races are headed to a point. It is a three-team race in the East for the final two playoff spots as Carolina and Montreal lead the Blue Jackets by five and two points respectively.
In the West, it’s a little tighter as Dallas has 82 points as the first wild card, Colorado has 81 while Arizona and Minnesota each have 79 and Chicago is sitting at 76 and at the fringe of the playoff race.
WASHINGTON 3 PHILADELPHIA 1
Braden Holtby starred as he stopped 35 shots as the Washington Capitals defeated Philadelphia 3-1. The Flyers needed a pair of weekend wins to stay close and they dropped both contests, effectively ending their slim playoff hopes.
Tom Wilson opened the scoring with his 22nd of the season as he continues to play like the top power forward in the NHL. He can score, is rough-and-tough, and is also a big hitter as he had five hits on the afternoon. Wilson has 38 points in 57 games with 119 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating.
Jakub Voracek cut the lead in half with a power play goal as he hit the 20-goal mark for the third straight season and the sixth time in the last seven years.
Jakub Vrana on a breakaway scored the only goal of the third period as the Flyers had plenty of chances to tie it up but Holtby denied them time-after-time.
Holtby improved his record to 28-19-5 with the win. He has a 2.90 GAA and a .909 save percentage.
Elliott stopped 27 shots as his record fell to 11-10-1 with a 2.81 GAA and a .912 save percentage. His days in Philadelphia seem to be numbered as Carter Hart is their goalie of the future.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS 2 ARIZONA 0
Robin Lehner was between the pipes for the Islanders and he picked up his 22nd win, stopping 31 shots for the shutout. Lehner is 22-12-5 with a 2.17 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
Darcy Kuemper got the start for the Coyotes and he made 24 saves in taking the loss as he is 0-3-1 in his last four games. Kuemper is 24-19-7 with a 2.45 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Josh Bailey, Leo Komarov, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk all drew assists in the win. Leddy and Boychuk were each plus-two in the afternoon tilt while Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson were each a minus-two for the Coyotes.
Ekman-Larsson had six hits on net to lead both teams.
CAROLINA 2 MONTREAL 1 (Overtime)
Rookie Andrei Svechnikov picked the perfect time to score his 20th of the season as he potted the overtime winner to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 overtime win over Montreal in a battle of the two wild cards.
The win moved the Hurricanes to within two points of the Pittsburgh Penguins with the Canes having a game in hand.
Curtis McElhinney once again showed the Maple Leafs that they made a huge mistake in letting him go before the start of the season as he made 28 saves while his counterpart Carey Price was great in the Montreal cage as he stopped 38 shots before giving up the winner to Svechnikov.
McElhinney is 19-9-2 after Thursday effort. He has a 2.53 GAA and a .915 save percentage while Price drops to 32-22-6 with a 2.51 GAA and a .917 save percentage.
Micheal Ferland had a whopping eight hits on the night.
Twenty-one of the Hurricanes 42 shots were made by the Carolina blueliners from a team-high of five by Nicklas Hjalmarsson.
CHICAGO 2 COLORADO 1 (Overtime)
Duncan Keith scored the overtime winner to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
After a scoreless first period, Alexander Kerfoot opened the scoring with his 12th of the season as it was a power play effort.
It remained 1-0 into the third when Artem Anisimov scored his 14th of the season with a power play goal of his own. Anisimov scored his first power play goal of the season after he managed 11 goals last season with the man-advantage.
Corey Crawford needed to make only 19 saves in picking up the win. He is 13-17-3 with a 2.97 GAA and a .908 save percentage. Coach Jeremy Colliton stated earlier on Sunday that he was going to ride Crawford the rest of the season and that is good news for Crawford owners.
Philipp Grubauer was outstanding in the overtime loss as he stopped shot-after-shot in making 40 saves. Grubauer saw his four-game winning streak end with the overtime loss but the Avalanche have been playing Grubauer a lot and look for him to be the starter next season. Grubauer is 15-9-4 with a 2.74 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
COLUMBUS 5 VANCOUVER 0
Sergei Bobrovsky returned to action Sunday and stopped all 21 shots as the Columbus Blue Jackets shut out the Vancouver Canucks 5-0. The win gave the Blue Jackets 86 points, just two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the second and final wild card spot. Columbus also has a game in hand.
Bobrovsky improved his record to 32-23-1 this season with the win.
Josh Anderson was the offensive star for Columbus as he scored twice including his 26th of the season, and added an assist to give him 45 points in 75 as well as a plus-23 as he was a plus-four as well.
I wrote Sunday morning about the slump of Pierre-Luc Dubois reaching 11 games as he had yet to pick up a point in the month of March so of course, he picked up a goal and an assist on the first two Columbus goals. Ryan Dzingel and Oliver Bjorkstrand also scored for Columbus.
Bjorkstrand had four penalty minutes to lead both sides.
Luke Schenn had 12 hits to lead the hit parade.
Thatcher Demko picked up the start for Vancouver and gave up all five goals on 33 shots. He is 2-3 this season.
Josh Anderson - 2
1 by many
Shots on Goal
Patrick Kane – 7
Jonathan Toews - 6
Jakub Voracek – 6
Alex Ovechkin - 6
Devon Toews - 6
Luke Schenn – 12
Micheal Ferland - 8