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NHL Game Updates:
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Boston Bruins, In a match-up of two teams that could potentially meet in the playoffs, the visiting Blue Jackets score the game deciding goal in overtime to take the 5-4 win over the banged up Bruins. Columbus has now won eight in a row. Rookie Ryan Donato scored in his NHL debut.
Nashville Predators @ Buffalo Sabres, Nashville how has points in 15 straight games after a 4-0 shutout of the Sabres.
Florida Panthers @ Montreal Canadiens, Roberto Luongo made 28 saves for his 76th career shutout. Aaron Ekblad scored his 15th of the season in a 2-0 win over Monreal.
Calgary Flames @ Arizona Coyotes, Calgary continues to struggle to stay relevant in the Western Conference playoff race as they lose to the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. The score is a little inflated after Arizona scores two empty-net goals, but a loss is a loss for the Flames who sit six points out of a playoff spot.
Los Angeles Kings v Minnesota Wild:
On a night with lots of playoff implications, the Los Angeles Kings visit the Minnesota Wild in a clash between Western Conference playoff hopefuls. The Wild entered the day in the third spot in the Central Division, three points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche. Los Angeles began this contested in the second Wild Card spot in the West with 84 points. The Dallas Stars are tired with the Kings in points, but the Kings have a game in hand. The St. Louis Blues also sit just one point back from the Kings for that playoff spot.
This was another thrilling game between two playoff teams. The Kings race out to a 2-0, thanks to Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter goals. Pearson gets his 15th of the season when he finds the soft spot in the Wild defense and puts the puck past an overly aggressive Devan Dubnyk for the early lead. Jeff Carter adds to that lead in the second when he deflects a powerplay shot from Jake Muzzin past Dubnyk.
The Wild would answer with three goals. Zach Parise would get his 9th of the season when he drifts into the zone with the puck and floats one past goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was sprawled out several feet from the grease. Quick basically gave up most of the net when he committed to the save and Parise kept his legs moving to open up a better chance.
Eric Staal tied the game at 19:04 of the middle period with his 39th of the season. Staal receives a great pass from defenseman Ryan Suter, and breaks in with some space before wristing a puck past Quick's blocker side. Quick was overly aggressive again, but this time it was the skill of Eric Staal that found the tiniest of openings for the tying goal.
The surge would continue for the Wild in the third period. Rookie forward Joel Eriksson Ek scores at 17:29 of the final frame to give the Wild a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for the home team, as Dustin Brown is able to tip in a goal with just 47 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Jeff Carter scores his second of the game in overtime when he picks up a rebound and wires a shot past Devan Dubnyk for the extra point. This pushes the Kings to 86 points on the season, good for third place in the Pacific Division. By getting to overtime, the Wild hit 90 points on the year, four points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for third place in the Central Division.
For me, the Wild looked like the strong of the two teams in this game. They had, at times, a significant speed advantage over the Kings, but they were the hungrier team throughout much of the game. The Kings played strong defense in front of their goalie, and generated a good number of scoring chances of their own.
The goalies were the story of the game for me in this one. Quick stopped 24 out of 27 Wild shots, and Dubnyk allowed four goals on 30 Kings shots. Both goalies had some sensational saves in this one, but then had moments where they were just lost while the other team scored. Jonathan Quick was out of his crease a lot, which lead to some good saves, but also left him vulnerable to several good chances by the Wild. Devan Dubnyk survived several opportunities where he overplayed a puck behind the net, or was way off to one side of the net and the Kings were able to get a good chance at a somewhat empty net.
Both of these goalies are very good, and should play well for their teams down the stretch and into the playoffs. Look for these two teams to play well in all three zones as they attempt to make deep runs in the postseason.
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