Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, November 6th

A loaded night in the NHL means there’s a lot of ice to cover around the league. Here’s how things broke down across the league tonight.

St. Louis 2 – Boston 1 (F/SO)

A great game in Boston that saw Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask have a tremendous goaltender battle. Halak made 33 saves while Rask made 34 as the game was, unfortunately, decided in the shootout where Brad Boyes’ third round goal was the decider. Vladimir Sobotka scored his first of the year against his former team, while Gregory Campbell also scored his first of the year and first in a Bruins uniform.

Buffalo 3 – Toronto 2 (F/SO)

It may have been won in a shootout, but it’s a win nonetheless for the Sabres who desperately needed to break their losing streak. The Sabres overcame a 2-0 hole getting goals from Jochen Hecht and Derek Roy to tie the game up while Tyler Ennis’ goal in the shootout sealed the deal. Jhonas Enroth stood tall in the shootout to earn his first NHL win. The bright spot for Toronto was seeing Mikhail Grabovski score his first goal of the year while Jean-Sebastian Giguere stopped 29 shots.

Ottawa 3 – Montreal 2

Consider the Sens reinvigorated for the time being, and tonight they’ve got former Canadien Alex Kovalev to thank for it. Kovalev had two goals against his former team to lead the way for Ottawa. Carey Price played passably well in goal for Montreal with 28 saves while getting goals from Jaroslav Spacek and Brian Gionta.

Philadelphia 2 – NY Islanders 1

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win for the Flyers who got goals from Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl in the win. Sergei Bobrovsky was the real story for Philly as he stood on his head all night long stopping 31 shots and allowing only one goal to Matt Moulson to spoil his bid at a shutout.

Carolina 3 – Florida 2

It’s Eric Staal’s world right now and we’re all just living in it. Staal had two goals for the Hurricanes as they held off the Panthers in victory. Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist as well to pace the Canes. Michal Frolik and Darcy Hordichuk had the goals for Florida. Yes, that Darcy Hordichuk. Cam Ward had a light night in victory, stopping 18 shots in the win.

Chicago 5 – Atlanta 4 (F/SO)

The 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks reunion party concluded by having both teams play a little bit longer just for the hell of it and throwing a shootout on top of things. Viktor Stalberg scored the winner in the shootout, all while Ondrej Pavelec was the hard luck loser stopping 36 shots in the loss. Marty Turco did all right for himself stopping 33 shots. Jonathan Toews had two goals and two assists while Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist for Chicago. Three former Blackhawks got points on the night for Atlanta with Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Ben Eager each getting assists.

Minnesota 3 – Columbus 2

The bloom came off Jackets goalie Mathieu Garon’s rose a bit tonight after seeing his shutout streak broken and taking a loss in the process. Brent Burns had two goals, while Cal Clutterbuck and his amazing mustache scored the game winner. Jose Theodore stole the spotlight away in goal as he made 35 saves for Minnesota, helping show that no matter who the Wild throw in goal, scoring against them will prove to be tough. Garon finished the night with 21 saves in the loss. Rick Nash and Kyle Wilson had the goals for the Jackets.

Colorado 5 – Dallas 0

You could call it a bad night for Dallas. Occasional scratch and former Hobey Baker winner Kevin Porter had two goals for Colorado while Peter Budaj stopped 31 shots in getting his first shutout of the season. Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft had a busy night as he stopped 40 shots despite losing by five goals. The Stars might want to work on tightening up the defense a little. Milan Hejduk, Pascal Dupuis, and Brandon Yip had the other goals for the Avs. Dupuis finished the game with three points.

Pittsburgh 4 – Phoenix 3 (F/SO)

The Penguins started things off badly, giving up two early goals and getting down 2-0 leading to Marc-Andre Fleury being pulled from the game in favor of Brent Johnson. Johnson provided them the stability tonight to get back in the game as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz had goals. Rookie Mark Letestu scored the game-winner in the shootout for the Pens. Radim Vrbata, Wojtek Wolski, and Eric Belanger scored for Phoenix while Ilya Bryzgalov made 33 saves in the loss.

Los Angeles 4 – Nashville 1

It turned out to be a special 1,000th game for Ryan Smyth as he had a goal to celebrate the milestone. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown each had a goal and an assist while Justin Williams had two assists. Rookie Jonathan Bernier had his bid at a shutout spoiled with just under three minutes to play as Shane O’Brien scored his first as a Predator. Bernier finished the game with 25 saves. Pekka Rinne stopped just 18 shots before being pulled in favor of Anders Lindback who stopped all nine shots he saw.

Vancouver 6 – Detroit 4

The Canucks are on fire winning their sixth straight game and taking advantage of a tired Detroit team. Vancouver’s third line did the damage tonight with Manny Malhotra getting two goals and an assist for Vancouver while Jannik Hansen also added a goal while Alex Edler had a goal and an assist. Detroit got two goals from Niklas Kronwall in the loss. Neither Roberto Luongo nor Jimmy Howard looked at all impressive in goal tonight in what amounted to be an exciting up-and-down game.

San Jose 5 – Tampa Bay 2

Patrick Marleau did his job to help make up for not having Joe Thornton in the lineup scoring two goals while Dany Heatley and Logan Couture each had a goal and an assist. Dan Boyle finished with two assists, meanwhile Antero Niittymaki stood tall making 33 saves in the win. Despite the number of goals allowed, Mike Smith played strong for Tampa Bay stopping 34 shots. Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist while Vincent Lecavalier had two assists for the Lightning.

Talbot torments Ducks as Oilers take 2-0 series lead

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Those who vehemently argued for Cam Talbot being a Vezina finalist likely felt vindicated tonight (even if postseason results don’t factor into the voting).

In Game 1, Leon Draisaitl stole the show. Talbot was the standout of Game 2, snubbing a steady Ducks threat as Edmonton won 2-1 on Friday.

And, just like that, the Oilers are up 2-0 in their second-round series against the Anaheim Ducks. Better yet for this young group: the venue shifts to what’s likely to be a rowdy scene in Edmonton for Games 3 and 4.

The tone was set when Andrej Sekera scored just 65 seconds into the contest. That said, the Oilers could have sulked when a would-be 2-0 goal was called off (and they had to kill a penalty). Instead, they just kept battling, even after Jakob Silfverberg ended Talbot’s shutout bit with a laser beam on the power play.

Speaking of the power play, the Oilers managed to match the Ducks (1-for-4 each on the PP), even as Talbot faced 12 shots on goal during Anaheim’s power-play opportunities.

Talbot ultimately made 39 of 40 stops, and while the Ducks kept Connor McDavid from scoring, number 97 sure looked speedy and dangerous at times in Game 2.

Anaheim came into the second round with home-ice advantage through the West side of the playoffs, seemingly enjoying a golden opportunity when other conference powers fell. Instead, it’s looking like the Oilers might just have a chance to prove that they’re big-time contenders, too.

Game 3 airs on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream.

Latest goalie interference mess: Oilers get penalty, not goal

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Ah, goalie interference. Does the fun ever start?

Arguably the most irritating facet of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs reared its pesky head once again on Friday, as the Edmonton Oilers saw a would-be 2-0 goal disallowed in the first period of Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks.

The goal wasn’t just disallowed, either, as Mark Letestu was given a minor penalty.

One would imagine that there are opinions for or against the goal (and penalty counting); there are also many who are just getting a little worn out by the uncertainty surrounding such calls. Tomas Holmstrom is nodding his head so hard right now, everyone.

Here’s one unhappy take:

Moments after this post went up, the Oilers made it 2-0 for real this time. Check out the game here.

Math may help build Vegas Knights, but biggest aim is not being boring

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Unlike Pierre Dorion, it sounds like Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee would rather listen to analytics-minded people rather than … you know, hit them.

As McPhee readies for the expansion draft, he told The Star’s Kevin McGran in Q&A that they’ll at least be factored into decisions.

I’ve been really fascinated by how revealing that data can be. You have these kids speaking a different language. But I’m convinced it has a really important place in this game. You have to pay attention to it, and you have to use it.

Naturally, the real question with McPhee and other executives comes down to how much they will lean on analytics. Some teams seem to pick and choose when to listen to such voices, ending up with an odd mix of moves that please and unnerve the “fancy stats” community.

Owner Bill Foley gave a good idea of how much they’ll lean on stats vs. more traditional approaches in an interview with the Vegas Hockey Hotline back in February, which was transcribed by The Hockey Writers’ Keith Scheessele.

“Analytics is not going to drive how we draft,” Foley said. “Analytics are going to supplement what the scouts are seeing. We’re going to rely on the scouts and what they recommend.”

(Foley also spoke of rating players in 10 different categories, which started to make one think about how old sports video games could only quantify skills in so many ways. Anyway …)

So, it sounds like McPhee & Co. will take a modern approach – a mixture of the old and the new – rather than going full-on bold and revolutionary like, say, the Cleveland Browns or Golden State Warriors.

Considering the mystery of roster quality one faces with the Vegas Knights, it honestly might be most important that McPhee is repeatedly stating that he doesn’t aim to put together a boring hockey team.

Hey, if it takes a while to be good, at least the Vegas Knights might fit with their environment and put on a show.

Tarasenko’s two goals help Blues tie series with Predators

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One of the (many) remarkable things about the St. Louis Blues dispatching the Minnesota Wild was that they didn’t need a ton of production from Vladimir Tarasenko. He didn’t score a goal until the clinching game of that series.

The Blues needed more from him tonight, and he responded with two huge goals to help St. Louis win 3-2 in Game 2, tying the second-round series at 1-1.

Tarasenko scored the opening goal on that major power-play opportunity from the Vernon Fiddler knee on Colton Parayko, while Joel Edmundson wisely got out of the way to let Tarasenko nab the game-winner.

That ended up being the decisive factor as the Nashville Predators finally lost their first game of the postseason.

St. Louis must be breathing a sigh of relief for a number of reasons. The series shifts to Nashville for Games 3 and 4, so going down 2-0 might have been lethal.

Even beyond that, the Blues had some breaks go their way that likely won’t repeat to the same degree in future contests. The Predators didn’t receive a single power-play opportunity while St. Louis spent significant chunks of the contest on the man advantage, going 1-for-5 (but again, that includes a major).

The Blues also won despite what must have been a frustrating start. They only managed a 1-1 tie after the first 20 minutes despite holding Nashville to a mere three shots on goal.

The Predators also managed leads of 1-0 and 2-1, yet the Blues kept fighting to get back in this series. Game 3 will air on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App (Click here for the livestream link).

* – That said, he made a lot of commotion to set up Edmundson’s overtime game-winner from Game 1. That connection continued on Friday, as you likely noticed.