Ride on the Zamboni – Thursday, November 4th

Philadelphia 4 – NY Rangers 1

No matter how many times the brawlers for each team managed to fight each other, none of that could inspire the Rangers to actually try to score goals in this one. The Flyers, on the other hand, took full advantage of the Rangers uninspired play and took advantage of the Rangers inability to stick up for themselves. Mike Richards, Blair Betts, and Nikolay Zherdev scored three straight second period goals after Brandon Dubinsky lead off the scoring in the game for New York to give the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t give up. Chris Pronger scored an salt-in-the-wound goal in the third to provide the final decision. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 20 shots in the win on an easy night for him.

What’s got the Rangers upset after the game is the lack of a penalty on Flyers agitator Dan Carcillo who caught Ruslan Fedotenko with a head shot. Both Fedotenko and head coach John Tortorella were livid after the game that no call was made on the play. Expect the NHL to take a look at what happened and perhaps hand down punishment anyhow.

Columbus 3 – Atlanta 0

Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason might have to get comfortable with the bench. Mathieu Garon stopped all 25 shots he faced in earning his second shutout of the year and extending his shutout streak to 133:54. Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger each scored their fifth goals of the year, meanwhile Jakub Voracek got his first of the season as the Jackets pounded Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 41 shots on goal. What helped the Blue Jackets feel more like they were at home? Just 8,461 in attendance in Atlanta tonight for the game. OK so maybe Atlanta has a bit of a problem there too.

Ottawa 4 – NY Islanders 1

After getting iffy goaltending and a tough start to the season from both goalie Brian Elliott and center Jason Spezza, they both showed up in a big way for the Senators in a 4-1. Elliott stopped 28 shots, including two stellar shorthanded breakaway stops while Spezza factored into all four Sens goals, getting  a goal and three assists in the win. Matt Moulson prevented Elliott from getting a shutout, scoring a power play goal. Dwayne Roloson, who had been playing well for the Isles, looked bad tonight stopping 23 shots in the loss. The loss marked the sixth straight for the Islanders who are quickly running into problems with a defense that just can’t keep up with teams.

St. Louis 2 – San Jose 0

Jaroslav Halak’s great season continues as Halak stopped 25 shots in earning his third shutout of the season, tying him with Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for the league lead. Fellow former Canadien Matt D’Agostini as well as David Perron scored for St. Louis and for Perron it made for sweet revenge after being the victim of a blindside hit by Sharks captain Joe Thornton. Thornton was kicked out of the game for an illegal check to the head in the second period. Later on in the second, Perron would score on a backhanded rebound past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Niemi stopped 27 shots in the loss. Meanwhile, the Sharks have been shutout in two straight games. The Wild shut them out on Tuesday night in Minnesota.

If you’re interested in such things, with wins by both St. Louis and Columbus tonight, those two teams now sit atop the Central Division

Vancouver 3 – Colorado 1

The Canucks big guns came out to play tonight as Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin scored goals while Raffi Torres added his seventh goal of the year in giving the Canucks a win against their divisional rivals. Cory Schneider got the start over Roberto Luongo tonight and played solid stopping 33 shots in the win. David Van Der Gulik scored his first NHL goal to spoil the shutout for Schneider who has been lights out when getting spot starts for Luongo. If nothing else, that’s exactly what the Canucks want to get out of their backup goalie and Schneider has been stellar in his role.

Los Angeles 1 – Tampa Bay 0

For two teams that rarely play each other, the Lightning and Kings sure do have some great dislike for each other. In what proved to be an overly physical and occasionally dirty game, the Kings came away with a Jon Quick 24-save shutout and a Justin Williams goal to secure the win. As for the dirty stuff, the game saw Tampa’s Mattias Ohlund take a five-minute major for boarding Kings captain Dustin Brown.

Later in the game, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty went out of his way to hit Tampa’s Steve Downie from behind in open ice. Doughty got a two-minute minor for the hit, but Downie would try to get him back shortly after that attempting to make a leaping hit on Doughty in the corner but missing. Downie then went after Doughty to try and fight him, but Willie Mitchell intercepted him and did the deed. Downie was given a ten-minute misconduct after blowing a gasket after the fight yelling at anyone in stripes he could find. And he wonders why it’s tough to warm up to him.

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.