Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is the main reason the offensively challenged Sabres are contending for a playoff spot (courtesy of Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Goaltender Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres), forward David Desharnais (Montreal Canadiens), and defenseman Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) are the three stars for the week in the Northeast for Feb. 24th-Mar. 1st.
First Star: Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres progress in the standings of late can be attributed largely to the fantastic play of their 31-year-old veteran netminder. In four games this past week, Miller has a 3-0-1 record. He’s faced an average of 36.5 shots through those games but only allowed four goals in the process. Of late, Miller has really caught fire, currently riding a 120-minute shutout streak after blanking the San Jose Sharks last night, 1-0. During his streak, the Sabres have been outshot 82-41 which speaks even more to Miller’s incredible play. For his efforts, the Sabres climbed into 10th in the Eastern Conference and are three points behind Washington with a game in hand.
Second Star: David Desharnais, C, Montreal Canadiens – The diminutive Desharnais has been a driving force for the Canadiens through four games this week. His three-point performance on Thursday (including the game winner in a shootout) also snapped the Canadiens five-game losing streak. The Canadiens have scored eight goals in their last three games, with Desharnais contributing points on six of those eight goals. He leads the Canadiens in scoring with a breakout performance of 14 goals, and 36 assists for 50 points in 65 games. His +10 rating is best among forwards, and tied for first on the Canadiens with Josh Georges.
Third Star: Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators – It’s been business as usual for the Senators’ Karlsson. For the second week in a row, Karlsson finds himself as a star of the week in the Northeast Division. In three games this week, Karlsson has scored two goals and added four assists. His 66 points on the year leads NHL defensive scoring by 23 points, and places Karlsson in a three-way tie for sixth overall in league scoring.
Northeast Division Notes
Boston Bruins: David Krejci recorded a hat-trick against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. The Bruins forward had only scored two points in his previous 10 games. Tyler Seguin also recorded his 50th point of the season in the win. Johnny Boychuck remains sidelined with a concussion, while defenseman Greg Zanon (acquired Monday) made his Bruins debut. The Bruins will play host to the New York Islanders on Saturday, and then travel to New York for an afternoon game vs. the Rangers on Sunday.
Buffalo Sabres: Still looking for his 60th point of the season, Jason Pominville has been cold over the last week. He’s gone pointless in his past four games. Drew Stafford, on the other hand, has been hot, scoring four points in his past four games. Robyn Regehr left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury in the second period. The Sabres have earned a point in seven consecutive games and have jumped over their division rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, for 10th in the conference with 66 points. The Sabres will continue their Western road swing with a stop in Vancouver on Saturday night.
Montreal Canadiens: After scoring only five goals in their last five games, the Canadiens tallied four and added the winner in a shootout against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. The Canadiens signed 19-year-old defensive prospect Morgan Ellis to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday. He was the Canadiens fourth round pick in 2010. The Canadiens will look to play spoiler as the Maple Leafs visit on Saturday night. The season series is tied 2-2 with the Canadiens outscoring the Maple Leafs 12-8.
Ottawa Senators: Ray Emery makes his return to Scotiabank Place Friday, as the Senators faceoff against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Senators will then head out on a Florida road trip, starting with the Florida Panthers on Sunday evening. In the absence of Craig Anderson, rookie goaltender Robin Lehner has been sensational through two games. He’s only allowed two goals, and posted a 32 save shutout vs. the Bruins on Tuesday. There is no set timeline for Anderson’s return to the net.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs will travel to Montreal on Saturday in hopes of snapping their four-game losing streak. The team will play six of their next eight games on the road. As it has been for most of the year, the Maple Leafs are still looking for one of their goaltenders to take control of the net down the stretch. In his last two games, James Reimer has a 4.66 goals against average and a 0.847 save percentage.