Riding the Zamboni – Tuesday, December 7th

Anaheim 3 – Edmonton 2 (F/SO)

A wild, up and down game wrapped up the night but provided enough excitement to leave an impression. Anaheim got ahead nicely up  2-0 early in the third but in the final ten minutes Edmonton roared back to life thanks to goals from Ryan Jones and Dustin Penner. Overtime saw the Ducks get plenty of chances to end it there, but it’s the shootout where things got decided. Eventually. It took 10 rounds but Cam Fowler’s shootout goal ended the game and gave the Ducks the win snapping the Oilers four-game win streak. The Oilers also got a dose of bad news when Shawn Horcoff went down in the first period with a knee injury. He’ll miss the next eight weeks of action.

Boston 3 – Buffalo 2 (F/OT)

A gutsy back and forth game that the Bruins can thank Buffalo for setting up for them. In the third period with the Sabres up 2-1 thanks to Thomas Vanek’s odd-angled goal, Buffalo was trapped in their own end. Rookie defenseman Mike Weber gathered the puck behind his own net and rather than sending it around the board he tried to pass it out in front of his own net. Boston’s Nathan Horton was there to intercept the puck and rip a shot past Ryan Miller to tie the game.

In overtime, rookie Luke Adam was busted for a high-sticking double-minor after catching Marc Savard in the face. There, Dennis Seidenberg would rip a shot from out high that glanced off of Mark Recchi’s shoulder and into and out of the net for the game-winning goal. The goal was initially waived off by the official but instant replay confirmed that the puck was in the net. Recchi’s placement is the source of consternation for Miller as he felt he was interfered with on the play. Recchi was standing in the crease and right on top of Miller but considering the official didn’t see the puck get buried up high in the net, we’ll have to assume he also missed where Recchi was standing.

Montreal 4 – Ottawa 1

Another game without P.K. Subban for Montreal and another win for the Habs. This time, the defense to take note of was Ottawa’s in that they were bad getting blown past by Montreal forwards all game long, especially in the third. With the teams tied 1-1 going into the final period, Jeff Halpern, Brian Gionta, and Roman Hamrlik all had goals and made the Ottawa defense look bad in scoring them. Pascal Leclaire was left to take the beating for the most part stopping 30 shots. Brian Elliott came on in relief when Leclaire had a skate issue and ended up getting beaten by Hamrlik for his trouble. Carey Price continued to be stellar and stopped 27 shots in the win.

Florida 4 – Colorado 3 (F/OT)

Some nights you can just sense a loss is on the way, and that was the case for the Avs against the Panthers. They’d grab a lead and couldn’t hang on to it and ultimately it was Stephen Weiss who fired the daggers to put them away. Weiss’ two goals included the overtime winner. David Booth had a goal and an assist as well for the winners. John-Michael Liles had a goal and an assist for the Avs and Matt Duchene had his 9th goal of the year as well.

Calgary 4 – Tampa Bay 2

Stamkos! Iginla! Well, at least one of those guys got on the score sheet as Iginla scored his 12th goal of the year. Rene Bourque also scored his 12th in leading the Flames to victory. Steve Stamkos, meanwhile, was held pointless as he deals with a minor slump. It’s very possible the Lightning had their will taken away from them early on when Cory Sarich and Tom Kostopolous got the Flames out to a 2-0 in the first. For Sarich, the goal was his first of the year while Kostopolous’ marker was his second.

Lightning goalie Dan Ellis was underwhelming stopping just 15 shots in the loss. Johan Harju scored his first NHL goal for Tampa Bay while Ryan Malone added his eighth goal of the year. If the Lightning don’t start getting better goaltending, they’ll end up also-rans in the race for the playoffs.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.