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Early Ride on the Zamboni – Friday, February 25th

Feb 25, 2011, 10:29 PM EDT

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Erik Cole, Marc-Andre Fleury AP

It’s a busy Friday in the NHL, with nine games overall. To make the results more digestible, we thought it might be wise to break up the recaps into two time frame-specific chunks. Here are summaries of the first six games, then.

Carolina 4, Pittsburgh 1

In a nostalgia-tinged reunion match between Cory Stillman (back with the Canes) and Alexei Kovalev (returning to the Penguins), Stillman’s team came out well ahead. Erik Cole seemed to benefit from the reunion of the Eric Staal-Stillman-Cole line, as he scored a goal and an assist in the game. Meanwhile Kovalev (zero points and two obstruction-type penalties) and Marc-Andre Fleury (pulled halfway through the game) had nights they’d prefer to forget.

NY Rangers 6, Washington 0

Speaking of nights they would like to forget, the Capitals had yet another against the Rangers. Erik Christensen scored two goals and two assists while Henrik Lundqvist pitched a 35-save shutout to embarrass Washington once again (they also beat the Caps 7-0 in a game documented beautifully by HBO in its 24/7 series).

There was at least one regrettable moment for the Rangers, though, as Derek Stepan elbowed Mike Green in a play that might get some attention from the league’s disciplinarians. We’ll keep you updated on that situation either later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

Columbus 5, Phoenix 3

Maybe that Matt Calvert kid is something to special? He earned a recent Goal of the Night award and took over this game between playoff contenders, scoring a hat trick and an assist to help the Blue Jackets beat the Coyotes. Columbus is absolutely getting hot right now; they’ve won three straight, five of six and earned at least one point in nine of their last 10 games. The Jackets are now at 68 points, two behind the ridiculous logjam for sixth through 11th place in the West.

Buffalo 4, Ottawa 2

The Senators already seem like a more competent team with Craig Anderson in net, but stopping 35 out of 38 shots wasn’t good enough to earn Ottawa a win against desperate Buffalo tonight. Ryan Miller ended up getting the victory (and an assist) in the game, making 29 saves. This win allows the Sabres to stay three points behind the Hurricanes for eighth place in the East.

Tampa Bay 2, New Jersey 1

Tonight was a bad night for the Devils. It’s bad enough that New Jersey lost a tight game with the Lightning, but every other active Eastern bubble team gained at least a point on them (even Atlanta and Florida went to a shootout, twisting the knife a little deeper). Tampa Bay more or less won the game in less than a minute, as Martin St. Louis and Simon Gagne scored rapid fire goals in the beginning of the second period. Mark Fayne scored for the Devils in the third, but it was not meant to be, wasting a 28-for-30 performance by Johan Hedberg.

Florida 2, Atlanta 1 (SO)

It’s hard to imagine the Panthers making a big run for the playoffs (after all, they seem to fall just-short every season), so this seems more like a blow to Atlanta’s fading playoff hopes that a boost to Florida’s flimsy postseason dreams. You really never know the way this season is going, though.

Transactions seemed to dominate this game. Newly acquired Thrashers forward Blake Wheeler scored in regulation and the shootout while trade target Tomas Vokoun made an outstanding 45 out of 46 saves and waived-yet-right-back forward Steve Bernier scored the shootout winner for the Panthers.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (1349)
  2. S. Bennett (1295)
  3. J. Quick (1256)
  4. P. Rinne (1236)
  5. K. Timonen (1195)