Riding the Zamboni – Monday, December 13th

Colorado 7 – Chicago 5

When you see this score you’re thinking that Colorado blew them out. Not so fast. Chicago had a 5-4 lead in this game with just 8:17 to play in the third. Then in the final 2:24 of the period, the Avalanche scored three times including an empty net goal to ice the game. Wild, up and down, barn burner hockey baby. Marty Turco started the game for Chicago but was miserable stopping six out of ten shots he faced. Corey Crawford played great until those final minutes saving 17 shots. Even more miserable were defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook who each were -4 on the night.

For Colorado, it was Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and Tomas Fleischmann who led the way with three points each. Duchene had two goals and an assist while Stastny and Fleischmann each had a goal and two assists. The comeback for Colorado is the sort of thing that can pick a team up that was playing pretty iffy hockey through the evening. For Chicago, it’s the sort of loss that serves as a wake up call to a team that could stand to use it.

Los Angeles 5 – Detroit 0

We discussed this one at length earlier tonight. The highlights all center around Jonathan Quick’s 51-save shutout, including stopping 26 shots in the second period alone. Anze Kopitar had two goals while Drew Doughty had three assists to lead the offense for the Kings.

Atlanta 4 – Ottawa 3 (F/OT)

Jason Spezza went from hero to goat in a matter of minutes. His penalty shot goal in the third period knotted the game up at 3-3, but a brutal turnover in overtime turned into Bryan Little’s game-winning goal in the extra session, his second goal of the game. Dustin Byfuglien scored his 11th goal of the season, good for a new Thrashers team record for defensemen – a record broken in just 31 games. Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves to earn the win. Daniel Alfredsson snapped a 13-game goalless drought adding a second period for Ottawa.

Nashville 5 – NY Islanders 0

Same old, same old for the Islanders and an emphatic win for the Predators. Anders Lindback gets his second shutout of the season stopping all 28 shots he faced. Patric Hornqvist scored two goals while Sergei Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist and Cody Franson had two assists to pace the offense for Nashville. For New York, it’s their sixth loss in a row and 20th in their last 21 games. New head coach Jack Capuano is now 1-8-2 since taking over for Scott Gordon. The Islanders are on a pace to be one of the NHL’s all-time worst teams.

Calgary 3 – Columbus 2 (F/OT)

Jarome Iginla showed what he’s about tonight. Iginla scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to lead the Flames to the win. Calgary jumped out fast in this one scoring two of their first four shots of the game with Iginla and Brendan Morrison beating Steve Mason. Mason was pulled after Morrison’s goal and Mathieu Garon held strong until overtime stopping 20 shots. Miikka Kiprusoff held strong stopping 22 shots and only allowing goals to Antoine Vermette and Rick Nash. For Nash it’s his 17th goal of the season. Goat of the game? Fedor Tyutin who as a -3 for Columbus.

Dallas 3 – San Jose 2 (F/SO)

Another late night game that was spectacular to watch only to be spoiled by the lame shootout. Andrew Raycroft and Antti Niemi turned out to be the studs tonight for their teams. Raycroft stopped 31 shots for Dallas while Niemi stopped 29 for the Sharks. Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro had Dallas’ goals that counted while Brad Richards iced the game in the shootout. Derek Joslin and Ryane Clowe scored for San Jose. Should this race in the Pacific Division keep up all season, these two will play some fantastic games in the future.

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.