Can we put an end to the talk about running up the score?

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You would think that in professional hockey the talk about whether or not your opponent is running up the score or not would be non-existent. Such wasn’t the case when the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1 back on November 20th. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was upset about the way the Blackhawks did things while they were up big late in the game and accused them of trying to run the score up. Keep in mind here, these are professional hockey players and not less-than talented six and seven year-olds.

Fast forward to last night’s game and again Vigneault was asked for his thoughts on things regarding that game. Vigneault stated once again that he felt the Hawks were trying to run the game up on them and pulled no punches in doing so.

“I think it’s every team’s right to do what they want,” he said. “Obviously, we weren’t very good. Five-on-three you sent Kane and Toews on the ice. They have every right to do that. They did it. And that’s it.”

Vigneault was told that Quenneville said that was just the next line up and Boynton and Stalberg do not normally play on the power play.

“C’mon, be serious here, let’s go,” Vigneault shot back. “Toews and Kane, it’s 6-0 going into the third. What do you think? Let’s be serious.”

Sigh.

Last night saw the Canucks get an ounce of revenge on the Blackhawks winning 3-0 in Chicago. In a show that turnabout is fair play, leave it up to the Chicago writers to pose the question about whether or not the Canucks were being out of line with how they were doing things up 3-0 late in the game. Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago asks out loud if Vigneault was doing the same thing he’s accusing Joel Quenneville of doing.

With the Canucks leading 3-0, Jack Skille was called for a high-sticking penalty with 3:16 left in the game. Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice when the penalty was called. They had already had skated a 0:26 shift but stayed on for the power play. Joining them were the top two scoring defensemen for Vancouver, Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Elder, along with Ryan Kesler, who is second on the team with 10 goals.

They played with the man-advantage for nearly a minute, then a second offensive-minded unit took the ice. It wasn’t until the penalty expired that Vigneault sent some fourth-liners on the ice — Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen for example — to finish the game.

Is 3-0 with 3:16 left in the game enough of a lead to call off the dogs, especially when the leading team is about to begin a two-minute power play? It seems it would be, which means Vigneault was either rubbing it in, or simply a hypocrite.

Or it’s very possible we’re all making way too much out of this entire situation. Instead of getting worked up about who’s doing what and whether or not someone’s winning with class let’s just look at it a different way. These guys are professionals. They’re not middle school-aged or college kids where you keep such things in the back of your mind if a game is out of control. They’re pros, they bounce back, they get over things almost immediately.

Having Vigneault complain about having the score run up on him is hilariously bad because if your team is getting beaten that badly at this level, the highest level of hockey in the world, it’s either because the team was badly prepared or everyone conspired to play their worst game of the season on the same night. Having a writer snipe back to pose the question in return is just making a joke of the whole matter which, really, we approve of even though a 3-0 lead can be a bit dangerous in the modern NHL.

All in all here though, everyone should try to be a bit more professional and perhaps just cut out the whining completely.

The Buzzer: Bergeron’s at it again, Nash’s resurgence continues

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Players of the Night:

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins: Bergeron did it again. The perennial Selke contender showed off his scoring prowess (again), scoring his second hat trick in 12 days. He now has nine goals and five assists in his past eight games. The Bruins have run up a 15-game point streak (11-0-4).

Rick Nash, New York Rangers: Nash scored twice for the second consecutive game in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Nash now has four goals in this past two games after putting up a goose egg in his previous 12.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: MacKinnon’s successes this season have been well documented, and he kept that narrative going with two more goals — his 21st and 22nd — and an assist in the Avs 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Highlights of the Night:

Bergeron’s hat trick came after some trickery by Brad Marchand:

A Double Dustin:

Robin Lehner made this dandy of a save. Unfortunately, he allowed a goal moments later. Still, this save.

Bonehead play of the Night:

Dustin Brown strikes again. This time in the wrong category. Someone’s getting suspended.

Factoids of the Night:

MISC:

Scores:

Devils 4, Capitals 3 (OT)

Bruins 5, Islanders 2

Blue Jackets 2, Stars 1 (SO)

Rangers 4, Sabres 3

Blues 4, Senators 1

Golden Knights 4, Lightning 1

Flyers 3, Maple Leafs 2 (OT)

Predators 3, Coyotes 2 (SO)

Avalanche 5, Sharks 3

Penguins 3, Kings 1


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Hornqvist, DeSmith help lift the Penguins past the Kings 3-1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins annual jaunt up the west coast didn’t start according to plan on Wednesday.

The Pens dropped a 5-3 decision to the Anaheim Ducks and had to quickly rest and recover for a date with the Los Angeles Kings 24 hours later.

The odds weren’t favoring them, but the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions pulled one out of their hats in a 3-1 win in the City of Angels on Thursday, handing the Kings their fifth straight loss.

The Penguins handed Casey DeSmith his first NHL start and the New Hampshire native stepped up in the absence of Matt Murray, who missed his first game after the passing of his father on Tuesday.

DeSmith filled in admirably making 28 saves in his first NHL win, and he got some timely goal support, including two markers from Patric Hornqvist.

Hornqvist alleviated some of the first-start jitters on DeSmith as he opened the scoring 43 seconds into the first period.

The lead lasted until the 14:10 mark of the second period when Adrian Kempe made a slick deke on DeSmith to tie the game 1-1.

Evgeni Malkin broke the deadlock with another early period goal for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh went on the offensive off the opening faceoff, and after a point shot was blocked in front, Malkin grabbed the rebound in the slot and fired his 21st home on a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick.

Malkin finished the game with a goal and an assist.

Hornqvist added some insurance just after the midway point of the third, making it 3-1 on the power play with his second of the night.

Meanwhile, Dustin Brown was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct after boarding Justin Schultz in the third period.

Schultz had to leave the game and did not return.

Schultz said he was fine after the game and that he did not suffer a concussion on the play.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck-

Rick Nash scores twice as Rangers edge Sabres 4-3

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Prior to Tuesday’s win, New York Rangers forward Rick Nash had gone 12 games without a goal.

They had lost three straight and the man they needed to start scoring again simply couldn’t.

But on Tuesday in a 5-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Nash found his stride.

And on Thursday night he notched two more in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on NBCSN.

Nash opened the scoring for the Rangers 1:24 into the game, taking advantage of a defensive mishap by Jake McCabe, who couldn’t handle a puck as the last man back and allowed Nash in on a breakaway.

The Sabres would respond by periods’ end, starting their first of three comebacks on the night.

Kyle Okposo brought the game to level terms with 1:19 remaining in the first period, completing a tic-tac-toe play on the power play.

The Sabres came into the game with the 31st ranking on the man-advantage, but managed to score twice with it in Thursday’s game.

The Rangers regained the lead through J.T. Miller in the second period.

New York just went through a power play without registering a shot on goal, but Miller was able to grab the puck at the right circle moments after the Sabres’ penalty had expired and rifled a wrist shot bar down behind Lehner at 8:26.

The Sabres engineered their second comeback of the game, tying it 2-2 the game later in the period from an unlikely source.

Justin Falk had gone 101 games without putting a puck in the back of the net. Not since March 6, 2015 had Falk seen his name in that category on the scoresheet.

But he shed that monkey off his back on a point shot low along the ice that beat Lundqvist through the five-hole with 2:50 remaining in the frame.

Nash scored his second at the 6:49 mark of the third period, following by Buffalo’s third successful comeback attempt at 14:59 when Rasmus Ristolainen’s shot found its way through a crowd and behind Lundqvist for a 3-3 tie.

Pavel Buchnevich scored the winner 1:03 later, finishing off a nice feed from Mika Zibanejad for his 12th and the Rangers second straight win.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Los Angeles Kings

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PROJECTED LINES

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Rangers; Penguins vs. Kings]

Los Angeles Kings

Adrian KempeAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Tanner PearsonTrevor LewisTyler Toffoli

Alex IafalloNick ShoreMarian Gaborik

Kyle Clifford — Michael Amadio — Jonny Brodzinski

Derek ForbortDrew Doughty

Jake MuzzinAlec Martinez

Kevin Gravel — Christian Folin

Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick