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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.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.