Roberto Luongo, Dave Bolland

Riding the Zamboni – Friday, December 3rd

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Vancouver 3 – Chicago 0

The folks on TSN are calling it a “statement game” for Roberto Luongo after stopping 32 shots in shutting out his personal nemeses from Chicago. Fact is, Luongo finally did his job against them and did it very well. Vancouver outplayed the Hawks throughout and got goals from Tanner Glass, Christian Ehrhoff, and Henrik Sedin to make it all work for them.

The Canucks frustrated Chicago captain Jonathan Toews by putting Ryan Kesler on him. Kesler, a Selke finalist last year, draped himself on Toews and tracked him all over the ice whenever possible and it resulted in Toews not getting many good chances. Vancouver needed the win for their collective psyche more than anything else as they got their heads handed to them by Chicago the last two years in the playoffs and 7-1 already this year.

NY Rangers 2 – NY Islanders 0

In what was perhaps the ugliest game of the night, the Rangers continued to make the Islanders lives miserable. This time around, Henrik Lundqvist gets the shutout and only had to stop 17 shots to do it. Marc Staal and Brian Boyle provided the offense and for Boyle it was his 11th goal of the year. For the Isles, it’s a brutal setback after getting stung the night before in an offensive shootout just to come back the next night and not put one home. Such is life this year for the Isles.

Carolina 2 – Colorado 1 (F/OT)

Perhaps the most fun game of the night, the Hurricanes’ youth served all tonight as Jeff Skinner had Carolina’s first goal and Brandon Sutter’s overtime goal won it for the Canes. Rookie Kevin Shattenkirk extended his point streak to eight games assisting on Milan Hejduk’s goal. Cam Ward was sensational stopping 34 shots in the win.

Buffalo 5 – Columbus 0

The Sabres had about a week off since their last game and it showed that whatever issues they were having before were solved for a night. Ryan Miller got his first shutout of the year stopping just 19 shots. Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis each had a goal and two assists for the Sabres meanwhile Drew Stafford scored his first goal since returning from injury.

Columbus’ Jared Boll will be getting a call from the NHL for an elbowing major he earned late in the game for a hit on Steve Montador. Boll connected with Montador in the head while also leaving his feet to deliver the hit. Boll was kicked out of the game. That wasn’t the only physicality in this one as Columbus managed to get beat up in the fights as well. Just look at what Patrick Kaleta did to Derek Dorsett in their third period fight.

Calgary 3 – Minnesota 2 (F/SO)

A couple of struggling teams duked it out in Minnesota and of course it had to be settled in the shootout. For the Wild that means bad news as Niklas Backstrom’s record in the shootout is abysmal. Rene Bourque scored the shootout winner. During the real part of the game, Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored his first goal since March 2009 and Martin Havlat had a goal you very well might see as our goal of the night. Mark Giordano and Alex Tanguay scored for Calgary. Rookie Henrik Karlsson earned the win for Calgary making just 20 stops. Backstrom made 30 saves for Minnesota.

Detroit 4 – Anaheim 0

The Ducks have been a tough team to play at The Pond this year, but Detroit handled them with ease tonight. Johan Franzen, Dan Cleary,  Tomas Holmstrom, and Valtteri Filppula scored the goals for the Wings while Jimmy Howard was brilliant in goal stopping 41 shots for the shutout victory. Downside for Anaheim is that they’re now 0-2 when wearing their third jerseys. Calling for a jinx there might be unfair as those losses have come against Chicago and Detroit. Those teams are pretty good. Jonas Hiller stopped 25 shots in a losing effort.

Ducks give Bruins first loss under Cassidy, putting … Islanders in wild card

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Korbinian Holzer #5 of the Anaheim Ducks pushes David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins during the second period of a game at Honda Center on February 22, 2017 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Wednesday was a night of futility in the Eastern Conference wild card races, so it make sense that a team that didn’t even play ended up grabbing the second spot.

To recap:

  • The Florida Panthers began the night in the second wild card spot. However, they were knocked down the totem pole when they lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The Boston Bruins inherited the second wild card spot from Florida, but the Anaheim Ducks just gave them their first loss under Bruce Cassidy. With that defeat coming in regulation, it meant that the Bruins’ stay in the East’s top eight lasted mere hours.
  • So, congrats to the New York Islanders, who enjoyed the rare tiebreaker treat of climbing into playoff position even though they didn’t even play on Wednesday.

(The Philadelphia Flyers were out of reach here, but they didn’t do themselves any favors in losing to the Washington Capitals.)

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were kept off the board as Jonathan Bernier won one for the Ducks, who stay right behind the Edmonton Oilers in a battle for second in the Pacific.

Despite Pastrnak’s -3 rating in this one, Marchand probably had the toughest night thanks to Bernier and Josh Manson:

This one hurts, but it’s also a reminder that there will probably be plenty of twists and turns in the races for the lower spots in the East and Atlantic Division. With that in mind, the Bruins have to shake it off and get ready to face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Kuznetsov, bad breaks baffle Flyers in loss to Capitals

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Here’s what went right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday: the Florida Panthers lost. Yep, that’s about it.

Otherwise, it was a pretty lousy time, as the Washington Capitals beat them at home 4-1 tonight.

Washington’s big names came to play here, highlighted by Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring two goals. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed one-goal, one-assist nights while Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin both grabbed two assists.

The Capitals won their first game after a bye week (following two losses), improving their Metropolitan Division lead to five points and Presidents’ Trophy edge over Minnesota to three.

The Flyers fail to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race, staying at 63 standings points in 60 games played. The Panthers are tied with the Islanders and Bruins at 66 points, though Boston can change the picture ever so slightly against Anaheim (still in action) tonight.

The bottom line, again, is that the Flyers failed in a chance to get a little closer to that logjam for the last East spot.

Of course, plenty of Flyers fans will grumble about missed opportunities and iffy calls. Mike Milbury broke down the early setbacks that made life that much tougher for Philly:

Philly couldn’t overcome the Capitals and that bad luck, making their playoff hopes a little dimmer as the trade deadline approaches.

Oilers win on rare Russell goal, Panthers fall out of second wild card spot

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The Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers might end up being costly if Andrej Sekera misses significant time.

But, hey, at least it was a win.

The two rising squads engaged in a back-and-forth game, with the Oilers winning in regulation. Maybe fittingly with Edmonton leaking defensemen lately: Kris Russell was the guy to score the game-winner, set up by Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed and a nice pass by Leon Draisaitl.

It was Russell’s first goal in more than a year.

The Oilers will remain in the second spot in the Pacific at the end of the night whether the Anaheim Ducks beat the Boston Bruins or not. Interestingly, this puts them in a reasonable position to catch the Sharks for first place in the division, too.

1. Sharks – 77 points in 60 games
2. Oilers – 74 points in 61 games
3. Ducks – 72 points in 61 games (in progress vs. Boston)

The Oilers likely had some fans out East tonight, as this loss pushes Florida down the wild card rankings. They’re actually out of the second spot thanks to tiebreakers.

Second wild card spot: Bruins – 66 points in 59 games, 30 wins and 28 ROW (in progress)

Islanders – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 27 ROW
Panthers – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 25 ROW

The Isles would move into the second spot if Boston loses in regulation, underscoring just how congested this situation is. But either way, the Panthers won’t be in the East’s top eight at the end of the night.

With Gibson out, Ducks recall interesting goalie: Enroth

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Jhonas Enroth #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Considering how much the Anaheim Ducks lean on John Gibson, it’s troubling that he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that such a situation prompted the team to recall Jhonas Enroth, who will back up Jonathan Bernier during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

With the way Bernier’s been playing at times, it’s not impossible that Enroth could play as soon as tonight. But if he doesn’t you have to wonder if the Ducks might feel compelled to throw a start his way in the next week.

The trade deadline is coming, and while the goalie market is really cold, some of that slow movement likely comes from how cap-unfriendly netminders like Ben Bishop might be.

But what about Enroth? His cap hit is $750K this season, and while he thoroughly unimpressed Mike Babcock with rapid speed in Toronto, he was fantastic as a backup in Los Angeles last season and has been outstanding lately for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

All things considered, it’s almost a little surprising the Ducks aren’t throwing him right into the deep end tonight. If you’re a team with poor backup goaltending like the Edmonton Oilers or any number of other teams,* why wouldn’t you give the Ducks a call?

Maybe they need to see him in action in the NHL before doing so, making this an intriguing scenario to follow.

And, hey, maybe the Ducks themselves might decide that he’s a better option behind Gibson than Bernier. Stranger things have happened.

* – The Leafs might qualify, honestly … but again, Babs doesn’t seem to be an Enroth fan.