A trip around the Metropolitan Division: March 10

Patrick McDermott

The 2014 Olympic break and trade deadline are nothing more than memories now. The teams from the Metropolitan Division are still jockeying for position as we enter a key stretch for playoff implications.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (42-17-4) 88 points:

Brandon Sutter notched the shootout winner to lift Pittsburgh over Anaheim on Friday night, wrapping up a four game road trip that also saw Pittsburgh travel to Chicago, Nashville and San Jose.

The Penguins split the trip 2-2 and have points in seven of their past 10 games (5-3-2).

Pittsburgh, who was linked to Ryan Kesler, didn't arrange a deal to acquire the Canuck but did augment their team with two deals on deadline day. In their first move, they acquired center Marcel Goc from Florida in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2014 and a third-rounder in 2015.

Goc appeared in Pittsburgh's games on Thursday and Friday, recording an assist and two hits while playing more than 20 minutes through his first two games.

The second deal for the Penguins brought in winger Lee Stempniak from Calgary in exchange for a 2014 third-round pick.

Like Goc, Stempniak appeared in both games after the deadline, recording a hit and a blocked shot but no points.

Pittsburgh will now set their sights on four-consecutive matchups against division foes as they have a home and home series against Washington on Monday and Tuesday and then the same scenario against the Flyers on Saturday and Sunday. In both scenarios, the Penguins play the first game on the road before returning to home ice.

2. New York Rangers (35-26-4) 74 points:

The Rangers, who have notched points in three-consecutive games, had a little extra on the line in a Sunday matchup with Detroit that New York took 3-0 at home.

With the win, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist became the 29th goaltender in NHL history to reach 300 wins. He is the sixth active player to do so.

With the 49th shutout of his career, Lundqvist also tied Ed Giacomin for the franchise record in that category.

"It's a lot of fun when you start thinking about it," Lundqvist said in an interview with Blueshirts United. "It was a good challenge for me."

The Rangers made a deadline splash by adding longtime Lightning winger Martin St. Louis in a blockbuster deal that sent Ryan Callahan, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay.

St. Louis, who has played in 1,043 career games notching 974 points, has played three games for New York, watching his team notch points in all of those.

St. Louis has one assist for New York so far and has recorded nine shots.

The Rangers will now begin a three-game road trip that pits them against Carolina, Minnesota and Calgary.

3. Philadelphia Flyers (33-24-7) 73 points:

Prior to a 4-3 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Flyers had won three-consecutive games over division rivals.

The Flyers dropped the Rangers at home and Washington on the road before making their lone trade deadline move- sending defenseman Andrej Meszaros to Boston for a 2014 third-round pick.

The Flyers have a three-game stretch of division games upcoming. They start by hosting the Devils and Penguins before battling Pittsburgh on the road in a Sunday matinee affair.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (33-26-5) 71 points:

The Blue Jackets, one of the more active teams at the March 5 trade deadline, have won four of their past five games with the lone loss coming at the hands of the Blackhawks.

The Blue Jackets, 6-3-1 in their past ten games, sit only two points out of third place before the beginning of a tough week.

The week ahead sends Columbus to Dallas in the front end of back-to-back. In the latter half, the Blue Jackets will host Detroit.

The rest of the week features matchups against San Jose and Minnesota.

The Blue Jackets started off their activity on the trade deadline by sending forward Marian Gaborik to Los Angeles. The Kings sent back forward Matt Fratin, a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick.

On Wednesday, Columbus also added defenseman Nick Shultz in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Forward Dana Tyrell and defenseman Matt Taormina also were added from Tampa Bay in exchange for forwards Matt Marchessault and Dalton Smith.

5. Washington Capitals (30-25-10) 70 points:

The Capitals notched a 3-2 win over the Coyotes on Saturday night. The win marked the third time in the Capitals' past five games that the team notched points in the standings.

The two regulation losses occurred in a back-to-back situation against Philadelphia and Boston.

Washington added a forward at the trade deadline, with a deal on Tuesday that brought Dustin Penner in from Anaheim in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

The Capitals also jettisoned forwards Martin Erat and John Mitchell. Erat expressed his interested in being traded earlier this season.

Washington received forward Chris Brown, defenseman Rostislav Klesla and a 2015 fourth-round pick from Phoenix for the aforementioned forwards.

In one final deadline move, the Capitals added goaltender Jaroslav Halak from Buffalo, who had just arrived as a piece in the Ryan Miller trade with St. Louis.

The Capitals received a third-round pick, as well and sent Buffalo goaltender Michael Neuvirth and Klesla.

Three of Washington's next four games are at home, with matchups against Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Toronto on the docket. The Capitals will travel to face the Penguins in the lone road duel of that four-game stretch.

After enjoying the home swing, the Capitals will travel to the West Coast with tough stops in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.

6. New Jersey Devils (28-24-13) 69 points:

The Devils started off the month of March 2-2-0 before a duel with the Hurricanes at home.

It didn't take long for New Jersey's lone trade deadline acquisition- forward Tuomo Ruutu, to make an impact. The Devils plucked Ruutu from Carolina in exchange for forward Andrei Laktionov and a conditional 2017 third-round pick.

Ruutu wasted no time, burning his former team with a game winning goal and an assist in a 5-4 win over the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

The win was the third in New Jersey's past five and was the last game before a road trip that sends the Devils to Philadelphia, Florida and Tampa Bay in a five day span.

After that stretch, however, six of the Devils' last seven games of the month of March will be on home ice.

7. Carolina Hurricanes (27-28-9) 63 points:

The scene was set for the Hurricanes to make a run in the playoff standings after the Olympic break.

Carolina had games in hand on virtually everyone in the conference, the team had three healthy goalies and the first game after the break was against NHL cellar-dweller, Buffalo.

A 3-2 loss to the Sabres set the tone however, as the Hurricanes have won only once since the Olympic break, a 3-2 victory over the Sharks. A 2-8-0 mark in their past 10 games has sunk the Hurricanes to within six points of last place in the division.

Carolina resigned goaltender Anton Khudobin, prompting chatter that one of the three goalies would be traded at the deadline, with Peters and Ward already at the NHL level.

The lone move Carolina made, however, was sending Ruutu to New Jersey for Loktionov and a pick.

Three of Carolina's next four games are at home as the team looks to claw back into the playoff picture.

Their next matchup is against the Rangers on Tuesday. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

8. New York Islanders (24-33-9) 57 points:

The Islanders were the talk of the league last week, which isn't familiar for a team in last place in their division.

The chatter was all about if forward Thomas Vanek would be moved and where a potential landing spot could be.

The Islanders pulled the trigger on a deal that sent the Austrian wing man to Montreal in addition to a conditional fifth-round pick. in the 2014 draft The Canadiens sent back forward Sebastien Collberg and a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 draft.

The Islanders have three wins in their past 10 games and are likely setting their sights on what to do with their first round draft pick after the regular season's culmination.

New York wraps up a four-game road trip with a duel against the Canucks on Monday before starting a swing of three-straight home games, starting with matchups against the Sharks and Sabres. The final game of the home stretch pits the team against the Wild.

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