The East Division standings are skewed. The New York Islanders are atop the division with 34 points in 25 games while Washington has 32, Boston and Pittsburgh have 29, Philadelphia has 27 while the Rangers have 23. New Jersey with 18 and Buffalo with 15, bring up the rear.
But a closer look lets you know that the Islanders play New Jersey five more times but the Sabres only twice. Washington still has to play Buffalo on three occasions while the Caps have five games remaining against New Jersey.
Boston plays the Devils four more times and still have eight games remaining against Buffalo.
The big gains come from the Pennsylvania teams as both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have all eight games against both New Jersey and Buffalo remaining. That should give them plenty of room to more up the East Division standings while the Islanders and Washington will have tougher games to play.
It should be an interesting finish in the East.
There were eight games in the NHL on Sunday so let’s get right to the action.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS 5 BUFFALO 2
Brock Nelson scored twice to lead the New York Islanders to their fifth straight win, defeating the lowly Buffalo Sabres 5-2.
The third period started off well for the Sabres as Jeff Skinner finally scored his first of the season. It took him 20 games to do so, but finally the winger is off the schneid.
Cal Clutterbuck with his third and Nelson with his second of the game and ninth of the season, completed the scoring for the Islanders.
Sorokin picked up his fourth straight win, making 24 saves. He is 4-2-1 with a 2.14 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
Jonas Johansson lost his third straight game and is 0-3-0 with a 3.93 GAA and a .893 save percentage.
The Sabres are 0-6-1 in their last seven games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning spotted the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-0 lead and then came roaring back with the last six goals of the game for an easy 6-3 win.
It was a huge afternoon for Yanni Gourde who scored twice and added two assists to give him eight goals and 15 points this season.
The Lightning power play was on fire as they scored four times on only five chances.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for the win as he is 15-3-1 with a 1.73 GAA and a .939 save percentage.
Kevin Lankinen stopped 33 shots as he saw his record drop to 9-4-4. He has a 2.76 GAA and a .919 save percentage in his rookie season.
CAROLINA 4 FLORIDA 2
James Reimer stopped 21-of-23 shots to pick up his third straight win and 11th of the season as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2. Florida has been a great road team this season as they were 8-1-1 entering the contest but the Hurricanes played well on home ice for the win.
The Canes jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Vincent Trocheck with his 13th, and Nino Niederreiter with his 11th, but MacKenzie Weegar with his second, cut the Carolina lead in half as the Panthers trailed 2-1 after two.
Chris Driedger made only 22 saves in taking his second straight loss as he is now 7-3-2.
Marchment had a pair of minors as did Jordan Staal.
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NEW JERSEY 1 BOSTON 0
Scott Wedgewood was outstanding as he stopped all 40 Boston shots as the New Jersey Devils upset the Bruins 1-0.
Boston had 22 shots over the first two periods and then came on strong in the third with 18 shots on goal but were unable to beat Wedgewood.
David Pastrnak was particularly snake-bitten as he was stopped on all 10 of his shots on net.
Tuukka Rask stopped 24-of-25 but saw his record drop to 8-4-2. He has a
Connor Clifton had six hits.
WASHINGTON 3 PHILADEPHIA 1
It looks as if Ilya Samsonov has regained his spot as the Capitals number one goaltender as he stopped 36-of-37 Philadelphia shots to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-1 win over the Flyers.
Samsonov improved his record to 3-0-1 with a 2.45 GAA and a .907 save percentage and looks to be back to the form he showed last season when he went 16-6-2 with a 2.55 GAA and a .913 save percentage. Look for Samsonov to start getting more starts than Vitek Vanecek.
Carter Hart made 24 saves in the Flyers net as he saw his record drop to 6-5-3 with a 3.47 GAA and a .893 save percentage. The Flyers saved him for Sunday’s game rather than play him on the road Saturday as he has a much better record at home than on the road but it made no difference on this night.
Joel Farabee got the Flyers off to a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period but the Capitals struck back in the second when Alex Ovechkin scored his eighth of the season and then took the lead with just 16 seconds left in the second as defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored.
Nick Jensen with his first of the season, scored the insurance goal in the third.
T.J. Oshie had a pair of assists.
PITTSBURGH 5 NEW YORK RANGERS 1
Kasperi Kapanen scored once and added a pair of assists as the Penguins defeated the New York Rangers 5-1 Sunday.
The Penguins scored three times in the first period on only six shots to chase New York netminder Alexandar Georgiev at the 17:14 mark of the first period.
The Rangers scored the opening goal of the game when Mika Zibanejad scored only his third goal of the season at the 1:18 mark. Zibanejad has nine points in 23 games this season, a real comedown from last season when he started the season with four goals and eight points in his first two games and ended up with 41 goals and 75 points in just 57 contests.
Casey DeSmith made 23 saves for the win as he is 5-2-0 this season. He has given up only eight goals in his last four games on 106 shots but is 2-2 in the four contests.
Keith Kinkaid replaced Georgiev and stopped 16-of-18 shots.
Jacob Trouba assisted on Zibanejad’s goal as he returned to action for the first time in almost three weeks as he was out with a broken thumb.
Jared McCann did not play in the third period but no reason had been given after the contest.
NASHVILLE 4 DALLAS 3 (Shootout)
Roman Josi scored the winner in the shootout to give Nashville a 4-3 win over Dallas.
The Predators blew a three-goal lead in the third as Mikael Granlund, Calle Jarnkrok and Tolvanen gave Nashville the lead going into the third period but Radek Faksa scored at the 12:30 mark while Joe Pavelski scored 2:16 later to make it 3-2 before Jason Robertson tied the game at 3 with just 57 seconds left in the third.
Pekka Rinne turned aside 35 shots in the Nashville cage to halt a three-game losing streak by the Predators and a personal four-game losing skid. Rinne is 6-9-0 this season.
Jake Oettinger picked up his second start on the weekend but gave up three goals on 20 shots to take the shootout loss. He is 3-1-4 this season.
John Klingberg missed the game due to the birth of his child.
Pavelski managed 10 shots on net.
OTTAWA 4 CALGARY 3 (Shootout)
Drake Batherson scored the shootout winner as the Ottawa Senators upended the Calgary Flames 4-3.
The Flames scored the only two goals of the third as Johnny Gaudreau with his 11th on the power play and Noah Hanifin with his second, evened the score, sending it into overtime as Calgary outshot Ottawa 17-3 in the third period.
Matt Murray stopped 31 shots in the win as he ran his record to 7-11-1 with the win.
Jacob Markstrom turned aside 18 Ottawa shots as the Senators were unable to muster a shot on net in the overtime. Markstrom is now 8-7-2 this season.
Matthew Tkachuk had two assists for the Flames.
Brock Nelson – 2
Yanni Gourde - 2
Matthew Tkachuk - 2
Yanni Gourde – 2
Kasperi Kapanen – 2
T.J. Oshie – 2
Miro Heiskanen – 2
Filip Forsberg - 2
Shots on Goal
David Pastrnak – 10
Joe Pavelski – 10
Denis Gurianov - 6
Travis Konecny – 6
Connor Clifton – 6
Chris Kreider – 6
Phil Di Giuseppe - 6
Connor Murphy – 10
Mathieu Olivier – 7
Thomas Chabot - 6
Denis Gurianov – 6
Jamie Oleksiak - 5
Austin Watson - 5
Zac Rinaldo - 5
Mike Reilly - 4
Mason Marchment - 4
Jordan Staal - 4