Winners & Losers: Stamkos leads Bolts over Caps; Quick with another shutout
Steven Stamkos scored his 57th and 58th goals of the season as the Lightning handed the Capitals a big blow with a 4-2 loss on Monday night. In the late game, Jonathan Quick recorded his 10th shutout of the season.
There's always a Winner and a Loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.
Steven Stamkos: A few weeks ago Adam Gretz took a look at the odds of Steven Stamkos scoring 60 goals this season. Talking privately with Adam, I said I sincerely doubted Stamkos would actually get there.
May I have a mulligan?
Stamkos scored his 57th goal of the season and 12th game-winner with 1:03 to go to help the Lightning play spoiler and hand the Capitals a loss. Stammer then added his 58th goal with one of the better empty-net goals you'll see, seriously. It was not only a buzzer-beater, but from his knees on a sharp angle over a defender's stick (seen above).
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Stammer has three games remaining to score two goals and hit 60 for the season. Yeah, I think I'll take those odds at this point.
Los Angeles Kings: It was classic Los Angeles Kings hockey for the 2011-12 season. A pitcher's duel, a scoreless game headed into the third period.
Thanks to a very early third-period goal from Slava Voynov and a later insurance marker, the Kings came away with a 2-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers . For Jonathan Quick ? It was his league-leading 10th shutout this season. That's ridiculous. He might be stealing the Vezina away from Henrik Lundqvist right now.
In the more immediate sense, the win gave the Kings sole possession of first place in the Pacific for the time being. Of course, just wait 24 hours and that might change. But at least this much is guaranteed, they will be no worse than tied for the lead come Wednesday morning because they're now up two points on the Arizona Coyotes , three on the San Jose Sharks and four on the Dallas Stars . Each of those teams does have a game in hand on L.A. now, though.
Now the Kings get down to the brass tacks. They have their destiny in their own hands with the final two games of the season being a home-and-home with the Sharks. That is going to be must-watch TV.
[Related: Kings 2, Oilers 0]
Washington Capitals: The Washington Capitals have a little breathing room and they seem determined to use up every ounce of it.
With the Southeast Division title creeping back into the picture and the Sabres slipping into their rear-view mirror, the Capitals instead came up empty in Tampa Bay Lightning . So instead of putting the Sabres to within an inch of their playoff lives and putting some real pressure on Florida Panthers in the Southeast, they lost at least one point in the final 1:03.
You had a feeling that the Caps were going to come out with some points after Jason Chimera scored his career-best 20th goal of the season in the closing minutes, tying the game up. It was the big, breakthrough goal that you thought was coming. From there it was Dale Hunter hockey time and we'll see about a second point in OT. Except there is that guy Stamkos, and, well, the door is left open for the Sabres.
As a result of the loss not only do the Capitals have the real possibility of some pressure-packed games to hold off Buffalo Sabres , but it opens the door for Florida to wrap up its first division championship ever on Thursday if the Panthers can beat Winnipeg Jets .
The good news for Washington is that it still holds a tie-breaker on the Sabres. So Buffalo, down two points but with a game in hand, has to beat the Caps straight up in points. Thus, the Caps still have the inside track.
[Related: Lightning 4, Capitals 2]
Save of the night
So with only two games on Monday night, I'm going a little heavy on the Lightning-Caps here, but seriously, this Dwayne Roloson save would be worthy of being shown with every team in action.
Maybe it was coincidence, but the Lightning turned the game just moments after this save with two goals in 25 seconds. This might have been the catalyst.
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