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The bruises on Travis Konecny’s legs are marks of Metropolitan Division hockey.In the third period of a crucial late-season divisional game San Jose Sharks T-Shirts Womens , the undersized Philadelphia Flyers forward got in the way of not one but two slap shots from Washington Capitals defensemen. The two points from the victory made it all feel better.”It’s that time of year when those shots are crucial to make sure they’re not getting to your goaltender,” Konecny said. ”I have a feeling that’s the way the body is going to feel from here on out.”Konecny’s not the only one feeling it down the stretch in a division where the top five teams are separated by just nine points with two and a half weeks remaining in the season – and they could all make the playoffs.Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Columbus and New Jersey play six more games against each other down the stretch, too. A postseason with Metropolitan first- and second-round series is sure to bring knock-down, drag-out showdowns with not much separating these teams.”It kind of depends on the timing of when you play each other,” Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. ”Obviously you want to finish strong and have a good finish to the season.”With the Florida Panthers 11-2-1 in their past 14 games, all the contending Metro teams save for the Capitals and Penguins can’t even feel safe. It’s why Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said, ”Right now we’re just trying to get into the playoffs.”That kind of desperation has paid off for the streaking Blue Jackets, who have won nine in a row to solidify themselves. Five of those victories have come against teams currently in playoff position.”It’s great preparation San Jose Sharks Hoodies Womens ,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. ”Every game’s like a playoff game for us.”Teams can lose three of seven playoff games and stay alive. That might not be the case the rest of the regular season for the Blue Jackets, Devils and Flyers, and it’s no sure bet the Capitals win the division for the third consecutive year.Beating the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night as the Penguins fell flat in a loss to the New York Islanders could wind up making a big difference.”These are big points now,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. ”Everyone can see how tight the race is and everybody kind of jockeying for position. You’ve got to collect them when you can.A far cry from winning the Metro by seven points last year and by 16 in 2015-16, the Capitals are playing meaningful games in March and April, something that could help them in the playoffs after three consecutive second-round exits.”I hope so,” fourth-year coach Barry Trotz said. ”It’s going to help not only us, it’s going to help Philly, it’s going to help all the teams who are in that when you have to play at that level.”The second half of the season was loaded up with divisional games. That means whoever wins the Atlantic between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins will potentially face a battle-tested Metropolitan team. And for the Metropolitan first-, second- and third-place teams, familiarity breeds contemptuous playoff hockey.”When you have meaningful games down the stretch San Jose Sharks Hats Womens , that’s usually a good stepping stone into playoffs,” MacDonald said. ”The intensity ramps up and the importance of each game, each shift and each play gets further under the microscope, it makes it that much better for us to be able to be in these situations to be able to adapt to it.”JONES-INGColumbus is a serious playoff threat in large part because of Seth Jones‘ development into a do-it-all No. 1 defenseman at age 23. Jones leads the Blue Jackets in ice time at 24:47 per night and is second on the team with 35 assists and 49 points.”He’s elite among the NHL defensemen the way he can join the rush, the way he can skate the puck out of the zone,” said Kekalainen, who acquired Jones from Nashville for Ryan Johansen two years ago. ”I think his transition game’s gotten quicker. I think he’s assumed a lot more power-play responsibility this year.”DONATO TIMEWhen Ryan Donato was leading the United States in goals and points at the Olympics, dad, former NHL forward and Harvard coach Ted didn’t want to say when the 21-year-old forward would make the jump to the NHL. Turns out it was as soon as Harvard’s season ended as the Bruins signed Donato on Sunday, plugged him in on the second line Monday and watched him record his first goal and assist.”We have some injuries, we’re at the point in the season where every game has a lot on the line and I think his being able to go over and have success at the Olympics this year really started to jumpstart his thought process that he was ready for the next challenge Custom San Jose Sharks Jerseys ,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney said. ”I think that sort of gave Ryan a glimpse of what he was capable of doing, albeit he knows that the challenge will be that much greater at the National Hockey League level and certainly coming down the stretch.”DID YOU KNOW?Ottawa defenseman Patrick Sieloff is the first player in NHL history to score a goal in each of his first two career games while playing for different teams. His first goal was April 9, 2016 with Calgary and his second came Tuesday against Florida.GAME OF THE WEEKThe NHL-leading Nashville Predators visit the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night for their final meeting before what could be a preview of a Central Division second-round series. Runners-up: Kings at Colorado and Vegas at San Jose on Thursday; New Jersey at Pittsburgh, Friday.LEADERS (through Tuesday)Goals: Alex Ovechkin (Washington) 44; Assists: Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg), 62; Points: Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay), 94; Wins: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay), 41; Goals-against average (min. 40 games played): Marc-Andre Fleury (Vegas): 2.18; Save percentage (min. 40 games played): Pekka Rinne (Nashville), 0.931.— MONTREAL (AP) — Calgary goalie David Rittich did everything he could to keep the Flames in contention with Montreal, but the Canadiens were just too much Tuesday night.Jeff Petry and Jonathan Drouin each had a goal and an assist, leading Montreal to a 3-2 win over the Flames, the Canadiens’ fourth win in five games.Brendan Gallagher also scored for the Canadiens www.mapleleafsshoponline.com , who have lost once in eight games this season. Carey Price made 21 saves.After a 44-save performance against the New York Rangers in his last time out, Rittich made 37 saves in the losing effort. The Czech goalie was, by far, Calgary’s best player, keeping the score close while his teammates failed to generate enough offence.“He’s not God out there,” Matthew Tkachuk said of his goalie. “He can’t stop everything. At one point, they’re just going to go in. They keep getting these chances. Eventually it’s going to go in.“It was a bad effort after we got away with one in New York because of our goalie. And maybe tonight we can return him the favor and play well and bail him out, but the opposite again.”Michael Frolik and Elias Lindholm scored for the Flames.The Flames jumped to a 1-0 lead at 16:46 of the first period when Tkachuk’s shot bounced off Frolik’s skate and past Price.Rittich was outstanding at the start and did what he could to preserve Calgary’s lead. At one point, the 26-year-old goaltender made four saves on four Canadiens players in a two-second span in the second period.“Right from the start you could see how sharp he was again,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “Tough not to get points tonight when your goalie’s that good and holding you in it for as long as he did.“You can’t keep chasing games. It’s not a good thing to do in this league. Eventually it’s going to come back to bite you. We chased the game all night.”But Montreal was relentless in the second period. Aided by four consecutive Calgary penalties, the Canadiens scored three goals in a 3:21 span.With TJ Brodie in the box for interference Toronto Maple Leafs T-Shirts Womens , Petry fired a one-timer from the faceoff dot that beat Rittich at 15:50. The point was Petry’s 100th in a Canadiens uniform.Again with a man advantage, the Canadiens made it 2-1 when Gallagher redirected Petry’s sharp pass past Rittich at 17:29.With 49 seconds left in the second, Drouin scored with a shot between Rittich’s arm and the post, and extended his points streak to five games.Montreal outshot Calgary 22-8 in the second period.“We were getting chances and it was just about burying them and putting them in the back of the net,” said Drouin. “It’s easier to keep going when you have your chances.”Lindholm got one back for the Flames at 11:10 of the third, finishing off a give-and-go with Mikael Backlund for his team-leading sixth goal of the year.Price tied Patrick Roy for second place in team history for most wins by a goaltender with 289.“Pretty cool experience,” said Price of tying Roy. “It was a great night. Overall everybody played well. Great effort from everybody.”NOTES: Former Toronto Maple Leafs Tie Domi and Mats Sundin were in attendance at Bell Centre. . Jordie Benn played his 400th career game, while Brodie skated in his 500th NHL game. . Johnny Gaudreau saw his four-game point streak snapped. … Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete was back in the lineup, which meant Karl Alzner was a healthy scratch for the sixth time this season.UP NEXTFlames: Home against Pittsburgh on Thursday.Canadiens: At Buffalo on Thursday.

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