Recaps of the last games of February 2013 involving American NHL teams, the fallout from the Avalanche matching the Flames offer sheet for Ryan O’Reilly, and the latest on Rick DiPietro.


Blackhawks celebrate yet another win.

Blackhawks celebrate yet another win.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/STLTODAY.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks extended their season-opening streak without a regulation loss to 17-0-3 by blanking the St. Louis Blues 3-0. Blackhawks backup Ray Emery stepped in after Corey Crawford was forced from the game after the first period with an upper body injury to earn the shutout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even in adversity, the Blackhawks have been finding a way to keep their streak going. It’s one of the top stories of this shortened season so far.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM/PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: The Hurricanes first line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty led the way for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

DETROIT NEWS/ SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves backstopping the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 shootout win over the floundering San Jose Sharks, who ended February with a record of 2-6-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were reportedly scouts from  St Louis, Philly, Rangers, Isles, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Phoenix and Boston (2) taking in that game. Hat tip to GJ Berg for that note.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/TAMPA BAY TIMES: The return of injured regulars Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto helped lift the New York Rangers to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

BUFFALO NEWS/MIAMI HERALD: The Buffalo Sabres won their second straight game for new coach Ron Rolston, downing the Florida Panthers 4-3 in a shootout

STARTRIBUNE.COM/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Minnesota Wild took a 3-0 lead and eventually held on for a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Wild goalie winger Dany Heatley scored twice and Niklas Backstrom made 25 saves for the win.

DENVER POST: Adrian Dater believes the Colorado Avalanche matching the Calgary Flames two-year, $10 million offer sheet creates more problems for the club than it resolves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest one is O’Reilly will earn a whopping $6.5 million for next season. Yes, the Avs have plenty of cap space, even with the salary cap dropping for next season, but it throws off their payroll plans in a big way.

It could also have a significant impact upon the Avs efforts to re-sign RFAs like Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog after next season. After all, if the Avs believe O’Reilly is worth an average annual salary of $5 million, surely Duchene and Landeskog are worth that much. The Avalanche will have to face contract negotiations with the O’Reilly camp again in the summer of 2014, when it will cost them just over $6.5 million to qualify his rights as an RFA. Oh, and they can’t trade him until one calendar year from the day they matched the offer sheet.

Early reaction I’ve read and heard around the league suggests the Avs won’t waste time to trade O’Reilly after February 28, 2014. Of course, a lot can happen in a year and there could be a reconciliation between O’Reilly and Avs management, but I have my doubts about that.

NEWSDAY: Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro spoke yesterday about how it felt to be demoted, as well as how he’s coped with the plethora of injuries and the criticism from Islanders fans he’s faced in recent years. He even suggested he considered suicide but quickly walked back those remarks, claiming he was only joking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When you read DiPietro’s initial comments about driving his car into a tree or off a bridge, then read his retraction that he was joking, it makes him sound like a callow person. Watching the interview and hearing his comments in context, his comments don’t sound as bad as they appear in print. As to his remarks that he felt like the Islanders stabbed him in the heart when they demoted him, DiPietro didn’t backtrack from those, and by the sound of things, Islanders management weren’t impressed. I don’t think it matters to DiPietro, as I believe he knows this is his last season with the Isles, and will be an amnesty buyout this summer.

WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals yesterday claimed forward Aaron Volpatti off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.