A Day in the NHL: Tuesday February 8


Five of six Canadian teams were in action last night as the NHL tried to combat the excitement of the Super Bowl one day later. While they didn’t quite match the viewership, Fergie did not make an appearance.

Which was nice.

The Night that Was:

After a couple of games worth of speculation, Pavel Datsyuk finally made his return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup, and he was certainly a welcome addition. Datsyuk scored the first goal of the game and then added an assist on Jiri Hudler’s fifth of the season as Detroit worked its way to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Brandon Dubinsky scored for the Rangers, his first goal since January 11th, while Jimmy Howard had to be sharp, making 45 saves on the night for the win, the third in his last four starts. New York has now lost five in a row, earning just one point.

For the first 22 minutes, the Vancouver Canucks looked to be in firm control of the Ottawa Senators. But after three goals in just over a period they gave up two quick ones to Nick Foligno and Jason Spezza (He had two points in his second game back) as Roberto Luongo scrambled to hold on to the win and hand Ottawa their tenth-straight loss. Mikael Samuelsson scored the empty-netter, giving him two goals and three points on the evening, while Mason Raymond had three assists for the Canucks who have won six-straight with that 3-2 win.

Congratulations to Devan Dubnyk on his first NHL shutout after a 37-save effort over the Nashville Predators last night in a 4-0 win. Andrew Cogliano had the game-winner and an assist to go along with it, while Jordan Eberle had his second multiple-point game in the three he’s been back in the lineup. The Predators were handed their fifth loss in their last six, as Pekka Rinne surrendered the most goals he’s given up since late-December. It was also the first time they’ve been shutout since December 26.

While Phil Kessel didn’t score (yet again), the Maple Leafs were able to pull off a gutsy win against the Thrashers. The Leafs trailed 2-0 and 3-2 win this game, but a highlight-worthy goal by Nikolai Kulemin off of a brutal turnover by Dustin Byfuglien and Tim Brent’s 7th gave the Leafs a 5-4 win. The line of Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski continues to produce as each of them had two points, while Rich Peverly, Bryan Little, and Zach Bogosian each had two assists for Atlanta. Byfuglien also score a goal, giving him just his second point of 2011 in Atlanta’s fourth-straight loss.

Quick Hits:

-The Calgary Flames leap-frogged the Chicago Blackhawks for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a huge 3-1 win. Lance Bouma had his first NHL point (an assist) while Olli Jokinen added two helpers.

Radim Vrbata had two goals and Ray Whitney assisted on both as Phoenix now has shutouts in back-to-back games with a 3-0 win over Colorado.

What’s on Tonight?

Carolina heads to New Jersey to take on the surging Devils, while the Maple Leafs look to make it wins on back-to-back nights when they visit the New York Islanders. Columbus will take on a short-handed Pittsburgh team, while San Jose goes to Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to keep their surprising season going against the Buffalo Sabres, while St. Louis will be trying to de-claw the Panthers in Florida.

The Injury Bug:

Tom Gilbert left the Oilers game last night with a head injury. He was kneed in the head on a goal-mouth scramble.

Kevin Bieksa was hurt in Vancouver’s win last night when he fell awkwardly and twisted his knee. He’s expected to get an MRI today. Sami Salo’s conditioning stint ends on Tuesday though, so if it’s an extended injury, the ‘Nucks have a replacement lined up.

-Atlanta lost Freddie Modin last night to an upper-body injury and he didn’t return.

Rumours and News Around the League:

Marc Savard and the Boston Bruins have decided to shut it down for the rest of the season. Savard suffered yet another concussion recently.

Ray Emery signed a two-way, one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks yesterday. The two-way contract will allow Emery more time in the AHL to get his game back, but still needs to pass waivers following the signing. He will be allowed to travel between the NHL and AHL freely.

-And those looking forward to a Peter Forsberg return…well you probably won’t have to wait any longer than you otherwise would have, but it’s still interesting. Apparently immigration has gotten in the way of Forsberg’s comeback but it’s just “logistics” that are being taken care of.

The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:

Ray Whitney’s two assists were huge for Phoenix as Whitney broke out of a two-game scoreless slump. It was his first multi-point games since January 15, with a plus-one rating and one of the assists coming on the power play.

E-mail Bryan at bryanthiel74@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.