Tampa top: Perfect Powerplay and Vasilevskiy
With the Washington Capitals (Metropolitan) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic), the leaders of their respective divisions met at the Eastern Conference summit. The Bolts were helped by a record goalie and a dangerous powerplay to win the overtime.
Washington and Tampa Bay (4:5 n.V.) delivered a wild roller coaster ride on capital city ice. Lightning-Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stood out. The 24-year-old Russian was taken under constant fire by the Capitals (58:28), his compatriots Alex Ovechkin (eleven shots on goal) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (nine) alone took care of their 20th Vasilevskiy but showed 54 saves (93.1 percent) and set a new franchise record for the bolts with this number. Only against Lars Eller (8.), Carl Hagelin (31.), T.J. Oshie (34.) and Kuznetsov (60.) the 1.90 meter giant had to admit defeat.
The Caps, however, only needed one point to win against the leading NHL team. Tampa Bay scored in the regular playing time even four times in the goal guarded by Braden Holtby (23 saves, 82.1 percent catch quota). Brutal was above all the perfect powerplay of the Lightning, which struck three times ice cold with three possibilities (3/3). League top scorer Nikita Kucherov (22., 36.) and captain Steven Stamkos pulled the trigger with one more man on the ice. Anthony also hit Cirelli with equal numbers (27.). Especially worth seeing was the intermediate 4:3 by Kucherov, who refined a beautiful pass table by direct inspection.
The winning goal then fell in overtime. After a puck loss by Captain Ovechkin of Capitals, Lightning defender Victor Hedman started a solo and put the cherry on the cream cake with a backhand shot (64th). For Tampa Bay it was the sixth victory in a row. Washington even extended their lead in the Metro Division by winning points.
Winnipegs goalkeeper Connor Hellebuyck only kept a clean record for the first time in his 55th season. The 25-year-old American parried all 29 shots at the 3:0 of the jets at the Anaheim Ducks and thus entered his twelfth career shutout. In front, Mark Scheifele (16th, in powerplay), Kyle Connor (45th) and Nikolaj Ehlers (48th) scored the goals for the guests from the Canadian province of Manitoba, who thus landed their fourth victory in a row. For the Californians, the German Korbinian Holzer scored four checks, three blocks and 16:28 minutes of ice time (4:19 of which outnumbered) in the third row of defense alongside Jaycob Megna.
— NHL (@NHL) March 21, 2019
The Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators made a Canadian duel a shooting match. Vancouver started with five unanswered goals by Bo Horvat (15th), Tanner Pearson (21st, PP; 41st), Jake Virtanen (26th) and Brock Boeser (38th, PP). But in this NHL season a 5:0 lead does not automatically mean victory, because the Sens answered with four goals in a row: Max Veronneau (49th, first NHL goal), Brady Tkachuk (50th), Oscar Lindberg (54th) and Anthony Duclair (59th, PP) made it exciting again. But then Horvat (59th) and Loui Eriksson (60th, Empty Net) made everything clear and secured the Canucks the 7:4 victory.
Matthews blows 200th NHL point to catch up
The Buffalo Sabres also lost their fourth and final meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Casey Mittelstadt (16, PP) had given us some hope. But then Toronto’s superstar Auston Matthews scored first himself (22nd) and later played for John Tavares (39th). The only 21-year-old striker scored 199 and 200 NHL points, and Mitchell Marner even scored 3-1 at the start of the final third (41st). Alexander Nylander shortened in the meantime (46th), but Zach Hyman’s “Empty Netter” (60th) removed last doubts and got the 4:2 final score for the Maple Leafs.
NHL results from Wednesday, March 20, 2019:
Buffalo Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs 2-4
Washington Capitals – Tampa Bay Lightning 4:5 n.V.
Vancouver Canucks – Ottawa Senators 7:4
Anaheim Ducks – Winnipeg Jets 0:3