Monday night’s National Hockey League schedule gave us some intriguing matchups and made things even tighter in already ready close playoff race. We had a successful return in Philadelphia and a grudge match in Columbus. Also, we will look back at a big milestone for one of the all-time greats.
Hart Honors Emery in Return
Carter Hart returned to the crease on Monday night after missing the last nine games due to an abdominal strain he suffered in practice on Jan. 15. He made 30 saves in a huge 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers, pushing the Philadelphia Flyers into the second Eastern Conference wild card spot.
“It was nice to get back out there,” Hart said from a victorious locker room. “It’s not fun when you’re just watching from the side, so it felt really good to get back out there with the boys and get a huge two points.
“Maybe a couple shots and I was good to go. I kind of did all the work in practice with our coaches and our staff to make sure we did any scenario that would test my injury and see how I felt. You get a couple (shots) early and it gets you into the game.”
When Hart took the ice at the Wells Fargo Center, he was sporting a new mask that paid tribute to the late Ray Emery.
Emery played in 88 games in two stints with the Flyers, winning 35 games and posting five shutouts. His best season came with the Ottawa Senators in 2006-07 when he played in 58 games and led them to the Stanley Cup Final. He won the 2013 William Jennings Trophy, along with Corey Crawford, and got his name on the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Emery tragically died on July 15, 2018, when he drowned while swimming with friends in Hamilton, Ontario.
Merzlikins Can’t Cool Off Lightning
We have written a lot about Elvis Merzlikins and Andrei Vasilevskiy lately as they have been the two hottest goaltenders in the NHL. On Monday, Merzlikins was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week while Vasilevskiy was given Third Star of the Week honors.
This was perfect timing as the Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Tampa Bay Lighting, last night, for the first meeting between these two teams since the Blue Jackets swept their first-round playoff series last April.
However, we did not get the goaltending matchup we were all hoping to see as Vasilevskiy got the night off. Backup Curtis McElhinney made 31 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Blue Jackets.
Merzlikins had a very good evening making 28 saves in the losing effort. His biggest moment came when he robbed Nikita Kucherov with just over a minute remaining in regulation to get the game in overtime and earn a point for his team.
This was Merzlikins’ second straight loss following his eight-game winning streak. With the overtime loss, the Blue Jackets are 9-1-2 in their last 12 games. The Lightning continued their surge by extending their winning streak to seven games.
This Date in Goaltending History
On Feb. 11, 2017, New York Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist became just the 12th goaltender in NH history to win 400 games by beating the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden. He was also the fastest to accomplish this milestone, doing it in 727 games.
All of Lundqvist’s 400 victories came wearing a Rangers uniform, putting him in some pretty good company. Lundqvist joined Martin Brodeur and Tony Esposito as the only goaltenders to win 400 games with one franchise.
Since Lundqvist joined the 400-win club, he was joined by Marc-Andre Fleury, who picked up his 400th win with the Vegas Golden Knights. In fact, Fleury has passed Lundqvist on the all-time wins list and leads all active goaltenders with 460 victories, one more than Lundqvist.
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