Tomas Plekanec backs up big words with OT winner


“Tomas who? Jagr?” [Jose] Theodore said, referring to five-time scoring champion Jaromir Jagr, Plekanec’s Olympic teammate with the Czech Republic. “Oh, Plekanec, okay. I thought you meant Jagr.” (from the Washington Post)

Journalism professors discourage you from using “quote leads” but being that I’m writing this in my underwear, I think that I’ve broken most of the rules anyway.

Tomas Plekanec lives by one rule, it seems, though: “If you’re going to talk the talk, walk the walk.” The soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent put his money where his mouth is, scoring a beautiful overtime game winning goal thanks in part to some loose defense by the Washington Capitals. You may remember that Plekanec talked some trash about Jose Theodore (at least in relation to Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak), so I obviously said that the player better produce. And, obviously, he did … big time.

As much credit as Plekanec deserves, the gold star belongs to the goalie he pumped up, Halak. The restricted-free-agent-to-be took his first steps toward a huge payday by making 45 saves to help Montreal upset Washington 3-2 in overtime.

People are going to slam the Capitals for the loss, but it’s only one game and the Habs really put together a scrappy effort. Sure, Mike Green had some low moments, but he also blocked 8 shots. Obviously going down 1-0 isn’t good, but Capitals fans can be heartened by the fact that their supporting cast nearly won them the game despite the fact that the team’s stars struggled. For instance: both Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble put up 7 shots and role players came up with plenty of chances. 

So, yes, the Capitals can do better, but it’s not all bad news. Again, it’s just one game. One very surprising game, but still, it’s just 1-0. 

More on Alex Ovechkin and the Canadiens-Capitals series tomorrow …

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    Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

    Jack Eichel
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    The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

    You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

    That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

    Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

    Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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    Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

    While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

    In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

    The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?

    Hellebuyck debuts with victory as Jets best Wild

    Connor Hellebuyck
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and assist, Connor Hellebuyck made 14 saves to win his NHL debut and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled left winger Zach Parise‘s return from a knee injury by beating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Friday.

    Mathieu Perreault added his second goal in two games and Nikolaj Ehlers‘ goal late in the third put the game away.

    The Jets won on the road for the first time in their last seven tries and for just the third time in their last 11 games.

    Ryan Carter scored for Minnesota, finally getting a shot past Hellebuyck that made it 2-1 midway through the third period.

    Hellebuyck was college hockey’s top goalie in 2013-14 and the goaltender on the U.S. team that won a bronze medal in the 2015 world championships.

    Minnesota finished with a season-low 15 shots, which was also a season low in shots allowed for the Jets.

    Wild fans at the Xcel Energy Center let out a roar when it was announced before the game that Parise would start, but not even his return could spark Minnesota.

    After Jason Zucker was whistled for an elbowing penalty behind the net, Perreault took a pass from Byfuglien and zipped it past Devan Dubnyk to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with 3:34 left in the second period.

    Byfuglien made it 2-0 early in the third when his odd-angle shot hit Dubnyk in the back of the skate and went in for his seventh goal.

    Carter’s goal bounced off of Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart and past Hellebuyck to give Minnesota some momentum.

    The rookie didn’t get rattled, however, stopping a big shot from Jason Pominville with 3:11 to play.

    Just 11 seconds later, Ehlers got loose on a breakaway and put the game away.

    Winnipeg’s defense came into the game ranked 29th in goals allowed, but had little problem preventing Minnesota from generating quality scoring chances.

    The Wild have just one win in their last six games. Parise was Minnesota’s leading scorer when he sprained a knee ligament on Nov. 5.

    NOTES: Wild F Justin Fontaine missed his 11th game with a sprained MCL, but has a chance to return for Saturday’s game against Dallas according to coach Mike Yeo. … The Wild went 4-3-1 without Parise. … Jets RW Blake Wheeler had an assist and now has points in 18 of 24 games.

    Blackhawks baffle Ducks with late magic; Kane’s streak at 18 games


    The Chicago Blackhawks may not be at peak-level right now, but they’re still a tough team to finish off.

    For most of Friday’s game, it seemed like the story would be about John Gibson possibly elbowing into the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 role, continuing that franchise carousel.

    Instead, it was about yet another tremendous comeback for Chicago, as the Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit. Artem Anisimov than scored the OT GWG.

    Stunning stuff … though definitely not unprecedented.

    With less than 30 seconds remaining, Patrick Kane grabbed an assist on Duncan Keith‘s 2-2 goal. Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, tying a record for America-born players.

    For the Ducks, it’s yet another gut punch, one that makes you wonder how they’d fare in another playoff series against Chicago (if they can even get there … a big if).

    Bruce Boudreau is bummed: