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.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.