March 30, 2009
This could have been Steve Sullivan's second straight No. 1 star, after he beat Nicklas Lidstrom (!) for the game's first goal and had a critical keep to enable Suter to be the eventual hero late in the third period. But it was Suter's howitzer from the point, with Chris Chelios in the box for cross-checking, that gave the Predators an emotional 4-3 win at the Detroit Red Wings. Pekka Rinne made 33 saves as Nashville won for the third time in four days.
Thomas gave up three goals, but he was also the difference-maker in the Bruins' 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He made 45 saves for his career-best 32nd win of the season -- including a brilliant effort in the second period to kill nearly two minutes of 5-on-3 power play time.
Gaborik's fourth goal since returning from injury proved to be the winner in Minnesota's critical 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. He picked up a lucky helper on Andrew Brunette's first-period goal after whiffing in the slot; but there was nothing lucky about the sniper shot Gaborik used to beat Dwayne Roloson in the third. Niklas Backstrom had 31 saves. The Wild remained four points in back of Nashville and three in back of St. Louis for the final playoff spots.
Honorable mention: Along with their hair-pulling line brawl, the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks played a pretty important hockey game. The line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin (two goals), along with Alex Burrows, combined for nine points in the Canucks' 4-0 win. ... Stick-tap to Brian Elliott of the Ottawa Senators, who earned his first NHL shutout with 20 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Dany Heatley scored his 35th of the season. ... Corey Perry (38 goals for the year) and Bobby Ryan (two goals, 26 on the season) powered the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. ... Finally, Patrik Berglund had three points in the St. Louis Blues' enormous 5-2 road victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blues currently own the No. 8 seed in the West, thanks in no small part to the play of T.J. Oshie, who had a goal, an assist and his second bad-ass play involving Rick Nash in the span of 24 hours:
Did you know?: Roberto Luongo made 26 saves for his seventh shutout of the season, which ties a career-best.
Dishonorable mention: On an otherwise stellar night comes bad news for Nashville: Scoring winger Martin Erat was hit in the leg with a Shea Weber shot, fracturing a bone and potentially missing the next month. ... Just three points up on the eight seed, the Blue Jackets are playing stunningly lackadaisical hockey right now. ... Edmonton is a dismal 16-14-6 at home; giving up two goals in the first is not exactly getting off to a good start and creating a playoff atmosphere in the home barn.