Detroit 5, Chicago 4: Huet's collapse fuels Red Wings victory

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Huet2.jpgForget about my thoughts on whether the Red Wings may be entering a
time of diminishing returns as their stars get older; I still think the
hypothesis is relevant, just not applicable on this day.

No,
today we witnessed the other story of the day come to fruition. A strong
performance by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period was wasted
when Cristobal Huet turned into a sieve — once again — in net as a 2-0
lead instantly dissolved a 4-2 deficit in the space of six minutes and
fifteen seconds in the second period.

Now was it all on Huet? Not
necessarily. Chicago appeared to cruise into the second period with a
two-goal lead and the Red Wings were much more engaged coming out form
the second intermission. Add in some questionable defense and even worse
goaltending and you have a disaster of a period.

Yet of course,
the story of the game will surround the play of Cristobal Huet. The team
decided that they would stake their postseason success on the tandem of
Antti Niemi and Huet, and today was the prime example of the mistake
they made. There’s no way after a performance like today that either the
team or the fans can honestly feel certain that having a stellar
defensive corps alone can cover up for questionable goaltending.

Huet
actually started off the game playing well, stopping all nine shots he
faced in the first period. But with the Red Wings on the power
play, he either lost track of the puck or didn’t feel the need to
transition like he should have, and left the right side of the net wide
open for Brian Rafalski’s goal.

It was downhill from there.

So
where do the Blackhawks from here? Huet has allowed nine goals in his
past three games — not entirely bad but when you consider he has just a
.804 save percentage in those three games you realize how much he’s
struggled since the Hawks made the decision to ride with him for the
remainder of the season.

It’s obvious that Chicago will need to
turn to Antti Niemi now and perhaps for the playoffs as well. Can they
go with a tandem this late in the season? It’s generally not something
you’d expect a Stanley Cup contender to do, and they’ll need to make a
decision in one direction or the other.

It’s obvious that Huet is
not the answer, and this was not just one bad game. If the Chicago
Blackhawks plan on playing for a Stanley Cup championship in June,
they’ll have to do it in spite of their goaltending. The biggest blunder
of the trade deadline? We shall see in about six weeks or so when the
playoffs begin.

Video: all 9 of this afternoon’s goals.

 

Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again

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If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”

There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.

Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.

One team climbing, the other stumbling

With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.

During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.

Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.

Canadiens are facing some turbulence (and mostly passing the test)

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 6: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues checks Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Scottrade Center on December 6, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.

Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.

For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:

Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:

Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.

Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.

Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.

Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.

* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”

From the Blues’ side:

Ristolainen, Kane, O’Reilly push Sabres past McDavid and the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Matt Moulson #26, Sam Reinhart #23, Kyle Okposo #21 and Ryan OÕReilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.

In particular, high-scoring defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.

Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:

Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.

Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.

It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.

You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.

Video: Brent Seabrook shaken up after awkward fall

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It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.

As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.

At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.

Martinook was not penalized.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.

The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.