Updated: March 19, 2014, 9:47 AM ET

Just A Thought


Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: You know the old saying about sticking a fork in something because it's done? Well, get the forks ready for the Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils. Both teams were beaten soundly Tuesday night, and it's hard to imagine a Devils team that went to the Cup final in 2012 and a Sens team that was the darling of the Eastern Conference playoffs the past two seasons have any hope of sneaking into this postseason. The Senators actually led 2-1 through the first period at home Tuesday, but then allowed four unanswered goals to the New York Rangers in the second period en route to an embarrassing 8-4 loss. The Devils, meanwhile, pulled even with the Boston Bruins at 1-1 just 29 seconds into the second period in Newark, but fewer than two minutes later it was 3-1 Boston and the B's went on to a 4-2 win that is their 10th straight. The loss was the third in a row for New Jersey, which is now five points back of the final wild-card spot with 13 games to play. The Sens are two points back of New Jersey with a game in hand. Now, where's that fork? These teams are cooked.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: We'll have a much clearer feel for the Washington Capitals' playoff hopes when they conclude their current three-game California trip, but it's definitely off to a strong start. Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals' power play remains red-hot, making short work of the Ducks' penalty kill on Tuesday night in the Capitals' 3-2 win, with Ovechkin's scoring the game winner with his deadly one-timer on a nice look from John Carlson. Why Anaheim left him alone in the spot he's so dangerous in remains a mystery. Just as encouraging for the Capitals was the play of goalie Jaroslav Halak, who made 43 saves against the potent Ducks. There's still work to be done on this trip for the Capitals, but they can check one team off the California gauntlet.

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Quite an interesting night in the three-team race for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Montreal Canadiens welcomed Patrick Roy home with a 6-3 win over his Colorado Avalanche, while the Toronto Maple Leafs dropped a 3-2 decision in Detroit to an injury-ravaged Red Wings team. All of which means the Habs passed the Tampa Bay Lightning, at least for a day, for second place and opened up a three-point gap on Toronto, which sits in the top wild-card spot. Talk about different emotions from Canada's Original Six teams. Leafs coach Randy Carlyle seemingly threw his goalie under the bus after the game, while the Canadiens were buoyed by coming out on top in a game that had an electric feel at the Bell Centre. When asked about the performance of goalie James Reimer against the Wings, Carlyle said "I thought he was OK, you know, just OK," his frustration clear. "So he said I was just OK," responded Reimer. "I thought I played good, but obviously you'd like to make a least one of those saves in the third." With Jonathan Bernier still sidelined by a groin injury, Carlyle doesn't have much choice but to put Reimer back in goal Wednesday for a huge home game against Tampa. The focus in Montreal was on Thomas Vanek's hat trick -- his first goals for the Habs since coming over at the trade deadline -- but the difference in the game was Montreal's fourth-line unit of Travis Moen, Brandon Prust and Dale Weise. The trio generated much zone time in the Colorado end and scored twice in the game, a major bonus for the Habs. Montreal has now won three straight as it tries to claim second place.

Katie Strang@KatieStrangESPN: It's not too often you see a crowd cheer when an opposing team scores, but that's exactly what happened in Matt Moulson's emotional return to Long Island. The heart-and-soul forward, who was traded by the New York Islanders to the Buffalo Sabres in return for Vanek -- a shocking blockbuster trade that stunned just about everyone -- tallied twice in his first game back against his old club, boosting the Minnesota Wild to a critical 6-0 win over the Islanders. Moulson received a boisterous response from the Islanders faithful when he was announced as the first star of the night and raised his stick in salute to the fans. It was a fitting tribute for Moulson, who said Tuesday he had wanted to remain on Long Island for the rest of his career. That trade will remain a puzzling one, and it was clear in his return that Moulson is still stung by the way he was unceremoniously shipped out of town. Nice for Moulson to have such a big night in his first game back against his former team, and nice for the fans to give him the recognition he deserves.

Picture This

Jonas HillerBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesLook out below! Jonas Hiller had to fend off the Capitals and his own net on Tuesday.


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