From Abdelkader to Zuccarello – 17 Feb 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs 2; Buffalo Sabres 1
Some times a change of scenery can do wonders for a person. Joffrey Lupul took first star of the game honors in the Maple Leafs win over the Sabres. Lupul got an assist on the first goal of the game (Phil Kessel and second star of the game) and sat for two penalties (served for a too man men on the ice penalty in the first and was called for coincidental roughing in the second). The Sabres extended their losing skid to eight.

Are the Maple Leafs Out of the Draft Lottery, and into the Playoff Race?

Carolina Hurricanes 2; New Jersey Devils 3
The Devils continue to rise again as they defeat the Hurricanes. Ilya Kovalchuk scored first early in the second giving the Devils the 1-0 lead heading into the third. Within the first two minutes of the third period Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias scored for the Devils making it 3-0. The Hurricanes did not give up as Sergei Samsonov scored near the halfway mark of the period and birthday boy Tuomo Ruutu brought the teams within one with 5 seconds left in the game.

Los Angeles Kings 4; Columbus Blue Jackets 3 (SO)
Even though the Blue Jackets Mathieu Garon had 26 saves while Kings Jonathan Quick had 21 it still took extra time to settle the score between the two Western Conference teams. Kings Jarret Stoll was the only one to score in the shootout attempt.

Philadelphia Flyers 4; Florida Panthers 2
Every second counts.

Flyers went up 3-0 over the Panthers in the first 40 minutes of play only to see the Panthers come alive in the third. A little over half way though the third David Booth brought the team within one only to see Danny Briere score an empty net goal with little over 30 seconds left in the game.

Minnesota Wild 1; Chicago Blackhawks 3
Two teams looking to keep their playoff hopes alive clashed last night in Chicago. Heading into the game the current Stanley Cup Champion hometown Blackhawks were sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference the win kept them in place as only 10 points separate the 3rd place Phoenix Coyotes and the 13th place St. Louis Blues. It is going to be a hard fought battle for all the teams in the west to see who will end up with the top eight seeds for the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Penguins 3; Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)
The Pittsburgh Penguins may be playing without some key components; but they are still sitting fourth in the East with a six point lead on 5th place (rival) Washington Capitals. The Colorado Avalanche are in a free fall as an injury plagued season is catching up with the team. If Peter Forsberg was to spur so passion and drive his retirement after two games (never even played at the Pepsi Center in Colorado for the hometown fans) may have crushed the hope they had for clinching one of the top eight spots. One thing the Avalanche can hold onto in this loss is that it did take extra time for the 2009 Stanley Cup champions to defeat them.

Pittsburgh jumped to an early lead over the Avalanche with a late first period goal form Joe Vitale. The Avalanche came back fired up in the second and saw Chris Stewart tie the game early and Cameron Gaunce get the go-ahead goal at the 14:19 mark. At the 14:51 mark Jordan Staal tied the game back up and there were no other goals in regulation. It was not until Colorado’s Kevin Porter was called for tripping in over time that Pittsburgh’s Tyler Kennedy scored a power play goal to end the game in favor of the Penguins.

Dallas Stars 2; Calgary Flames 4
Look out for falling Stars. The once surging Dallas Stars making a fresh mark with a new look to their team after separating with long-time franchise face Mike Modano and then also not resigning goaltender Marty Turco started there season flying high. Kari Lehtonen who replaced Marty Turco as the Stars starting goaltender went into the game with a 23-16-6 record and had his first career shutout recently against the Edmonton Oilers. All of this was not enough to stomp out the now surging Flames. The once thought to be down and out Flames are now right in the Western Conference mix fighting for a playoff spot.

A Finnish goaltending battle saw Stars Lehtonen make 27 saves while the Flames Olympic Bronze medal winning Miikka Kiprusoff only stopped 22 shots he took third star of the game honors with a 0.917 save percentage. Kiprusoff may want to thank another fellow Finn Olli Jokinen for getting the early goal in the first to get the Flames on to board early.

Washington Capitals 7; Anaheim Ducks 6

Holy high scoring game Batman!
Where in the world has Alexander Semin been? In the first 25 games of the season the high powered Russian had 18 goals and three hat tricks; however, he had not scored since November 28th (side note: he has missed 15 games due to injuries). That all changed last night as Semin returned to form with another hat trick that powered the Capitals to seven goals to outlast the Ducks who hung in there without starting (All-Star) goaltender Jonas Hiller had six of their own goals.

Ducks Corey Perry had four points on the night with a short handed goal early in the second and three assist. The Ducks who have captain Ryan Getzlaf back in the line up saw their captain score the first goal of the game on the power play early in the first and take 3rd star of the game honors as he also scored four points against the Capitals.

At the 16:47 mark of the second period the score board lit up – only with penatlies as Washington’s John Erskine and Anaheim’s Andy Sutton each received fighting majors. Sutton also took a boarding call and an instigator penalty while Erskine took a 10-minute misconduct.

Up into the Netting

FOX Sports Carolinas announced that they will have live coverage of the Rod Brind’Amour Number Retirement Ceremony online this coming Friday (February 18th). Brind’Amour’s number 17 will be raised to the rafters in the RBC Center in a pre game ceremony that will begin at 7:00 p.m. EST before the 8:00 p.m. game versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Along with streaming the event live at FOX Sports Carolinas reporter Andrew Jones will tweet throughout the ceremony with fan reactions along with giving a feel for the atmosphere within the arena. You can follow on twitter with the official Twitter hash tag #CanesRetire17

Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen Tweeted a picture of himself with New York Rangers Brian Boyle at the Rangers Casino Night Tuesday Night in New York City.

As we enter the back half of the NHL regular season and the nearing of the trade deadline (seeing trade picks switching hands) many have started to look at the up coming 2011 NHL Entry draft in Minnesota. What about looking back at this years host team and see where their prospects are now.

Blackhawks head coach Joe Quenneville Hospitalized.

Tonight the Detroit Red Wings take on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time since long-time Red Wing Steve Yzerman left Detroit’s front office to become the new General Manager for the Lightning.

USA Hockey is asking anyone that is on Twitter to use the hashtag #HWAA this weekend for any tweets about happenings with Hockey Weekend Across America.