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Riding the Zamboni – Wednesday November 17th (early edition)

Let’s take a look at nine of today’s 12 games, shall we?

Pittsburgh 3, Vancouver 1

Sidney Crosby scored his 13th goal, the Penguins’ sellout streak hit the three-million person mark and Pittsburgh might just have something going all of a sudden.

Washington 4, Buffalo 2

Well, the Sabres’ run of overtime games had to end sometime, right? Most people wouldn’t have been surprised if they found out that one of the league’s hottest goalies played in this game, but few would have expected that we’d be talking about Michal Neuvirth, not Ryan Miller.

Boston 3, NY Rangers 2

Tim Thomas helped the Bruins earn the win in this one, stopping 34 out of 36 shots while his team managed to score three goals on Henrik Lundqvist despite only sending 20 shots his way.

Tampa Bay 4, NY Islanders 2

The Islanders put together a valiant effort, but their record without fired coach Scott Gordon is 0-1 after losing to the Lightning tonight. Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists while Steve Stamkos scored yet another goal and added an assist as well. The Islanders have now gone 11 games without a win.

Carolina 7, Ottawa 1

Eric Staal scored three goals and two assists … so naturally he wasn’t in my fantasy hockey lineup tonight. (D’oh!) It seems like the Hurricanes are trading blowouts; one night they get dismantled, the next night they dominate. The Senators might be in the cold phase of their typical hit-or-miss cycle.

Florida 2, Atlanta 1

It’s about time that Tomas Vokoun dominated a game again. The soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent stopped 38 out of 39 shots to help the Panthers beat their division mates from Atlanta.

Detroit 7, St. Louis 3

This game will be remembered for two things: Jaroslav Halak deflecting the puck into his own net and the Red Wings crushing the Blues in the third period, making a 3-3 game end 7-3.

Minnesota 2, Anaheim 1 (OT)

The Ducks aren’t flopping spectacularly on the road anymore. Now they’re just losing hard fought games away from home, as they lost another 2-1 game tonight. At least they earned a point out of it, but red-hot goalie Niklas Backstrom and forward Antti Miettinen made sure the Wild won this one.

Colorado 4, San Jose 3 (OT)

Colorado still gives San Jose some trouble, it seems. The Avalanche won this one thanks to a pretty overtime game-winner by Kevin Porter, as both the Avs and Wild gained some ground on the Northwest Division-leading Canucks tonight. San Jose squandered a 3-1 lead to lose, but like Anaheim, they can at least bring home a charity point for their efforts.

Even the Flames’ struggling power play capitalized against the Blackhawks’ struggling penalty kill

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The Calgary Flames had the league’s worst power play at just four per cent coming into Monday’s game against Chicago.

Yeah. Awful.

The Blackhawks had the league’s worst penalty kill at just 42.9 per cent, which is also awful, although their issues go deeper than that aspect.

So, of course special teams played an important role in this game. Despite their previous struggles with the advantage, the Flames scored twice on the power play, on goals from Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, taking their turn capitalizing on Chicago’s early-season difficulties short handed.

The Flames finished two-for-five on the power play, giving them three power play goals in 30 opportunities so far. They jumped all the way to 27th in the league in that category (!!) at 10 per cent. The Blackhawks have given up 14 power play goals against on 26 chances.

“We’ve got to get that out of our game,” Jonathan Toews told CSN Chicago. “As I’ve been saying, the penalty kill usually translates from our effort 5-on-5 and if we’re not starting games well, then we’re getting behind. Obviously [we’re] giving up power plays to begin with and we’re not killing the penalty kills that we’re on. Unfortunate to get behind again tonight.”

This is not the company you’d expect the Blackhawks to be keeping.

The Blackhawks did come back to force overtime, but they ultimately lost 3-2 in the shootout.

Former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in the deciding breakaway contest, giving Calgary the win.

While the Flames power play came alive for this game, the play of goalie Brian Elliott was significant.

He, too, had struggled mightily with three losses in three starts, and a .839 save percentage, prompting his former teammate Jake Allen to say Flames fans shouldn’t be worried about Elliott despite his dreadful start.

Against Chicago, Elliott made 31 saves on 33 shots and then made five saves in the seven-round shootout.

The Habs took a chance signing Radulov and (so far) they’ve been rewarded

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 20:  Alexander Radulov #47 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at the Bell Centre on October 20, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens took a chance on Alexander Radulov.

The cost? One year at $5.75 million, which is a significant investment for a 30-year-old player with plenty of talent but past off-ice discipline issues. So far, Radulov has been a welcomed addition to a Habs lineup that needed a skilled forward capable of putting up good numbers and taking a top-six role.

The success — or lack of — for the Habs will always focus around the play and health of goalie Carey Price.

But Radulov is off to a nice start to the season, which should provide some optimism for Canadiens fans after a disappointing 2015-16 season and the tumultuous summer that followed.

He entered Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with two points in five games, but had solid puck possession numbers. Against the Flyers, he was once again a central figure for the Habs on the attack.

And the production followed.

He had a three-point night, setting up Shea Weber‘s goal in the second period — Weber’s slap shot busted the stick of Brayden Schenn and still had enough to get by goalie Steve Mason — and Brendan Gallagher for the eventual winner late in the third period.

Radulov then secured the win with an empty-net goal, giving him five points in six games. The Habs, following their 3-1 win over the Flyers, remain the only team in the league without a regulation loss.

Radulov entered the season as a potential X-factor for the Habs.

General manager Marc Bergevin received plenty of criticism for trading P.K. Subban. But so far, the returns from signing Radulov have been promising for the Habs.

Video: Shea Weber scores with blistering slap shot that destroyed Schenn’s stick


In case you didn’t know by now, here is more evidence that Shea Weber possesses a devastating slap shot.

The Montreal Canadiens defenseman on Monday scored his second goal of the season, once again deploying his shot from the blue line. This time, he ripped a shot that busted the stick of Brayden Schenn, who was trying to get into the shooting lane, and still had enough behind it to beat Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason.

That gave the Habs the lead.

The Flyers responded later on in the second period on Jakub Voracek‘s third goal of the season.

Christian Ehrhoff signs with Kolner Haie in Germany

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Christian Ehrhoff #10 of Team Europe looks on against Team Canada during the second period during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Christian Ehrhoff is finally under contract for this season, but not in the NHL.

Ehrhoff, 34, signed with Kolner Haie in Germany, the team announced via Twitter on Monday.

Most recently, Ehrhoff was with the Boston Bruins on a professional tryout (PTO) prior to the beginning of the season, but he opted not to sign with that club, instead deciding to return home to Germany.

Ehrhoff also suited up for Team Europe at this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.

In 789 NHL games, the puck-moving defenseman scored 74 goals and 339 points. His most productive seasons came with the Vancouver Canucks, as he helped that team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.