Chris Osgood

Around the rink – Sunday, December 19th

Questions lie ahead today in the NHL and, as always, the answers should be fascinating. Can the Capitals snap their eight game losing streak? Can Chris Osgood win his 400th game? Can the Avalanche score on Carey Price? Can the Kings pick up wins on back-to-back nights? All will be revealed. All times are Eastern.

5:00 pm

Dallas @ Detroit

Chris Osgood will get the start for Detroit in goal and get his shot at winning his 400th game. Getting to do it at home and out of earshot of taunts of opposing fans should help him out a little bit. The Stars roll into town on the back of a 2-1 win over Columbus last night that turned out to be a little controversial. Detroit’s looking to avoid losing two straight after being beaten soundly by Chicago on Friday.

7:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Chicago

The Kings head into Chicago coming off a blowout win over a tough Nashville team. Lately for L.A., they’ve either gotten stellar goaltending or they haven’t. They’ll be hoping the injury-riddled Blackhawks aren’t able to put it together to score goals today. With Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Viktor Stalberg still out the pressure is on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp to carry the load offensively. Doing that against a tough Kings team may be asking a lot out of them.

7:30 pm

Washington @ Ottawa

Well, you can’t say the Caps aren’t trying to snap their eight game losing streak. In last night’s third period against Boston, the Capitals outshot the Bruins in the third period by a 26-2 margin. The Caps lost the game 3-2, much in part thanks to Tim Thomas just doing his normal thing in goal. Today, they’ll go against a Senators team without Pascal Leclaire in goal so Brian Elliott gets the call. The Sens are coming off their barn burner 6-5 overtime loss to Colorado the other night. If they can’t tighten things up defensively, the slumping Caps offense might get breakout game they’ve been dying for.

8:00 pm

Montreal @ Colorado

The high-flying Avalanche offense lead by Matt Duchene taking on the stiff defense of the Canadiens lead by Carey Price. It’s the perfect duel of styles, but don’t mistake this Habs team for one that can’t score. Most interesting to note here is how Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne gets to square off against his former team. With the Avalanche, O’Byrne’s been a solid starter for them after not being able to crack the lineup in Montreal. The physical defenseman is likely to make sure he lets his former teammates know he’s out there. Colorado has won five in a row heading into tonight’s game.

As for the Habs, getting Carey Price back into that steady run of solid play would be a good thing. Over their last four games, the Habs have allowed 15 goals, with 12 of those being hung on Price. Montreal has won only one out of those last four. This is the first game of a seven game road trip for Montreal.

Flames’ Bennett, Tkachuk accused of slew-footing in loss to Leafs

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The Calgary Flames dropped an ugly 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, not exactly rebounding from an embarrassing 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

Things were ugly in a different way toward the end, especially if you ask Maple Leafs fans, as Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk may or may not be guilty of “slew-footing” late in the contest. In each case, they were whistled for roughing.

Bennett was guilty of the first incident on Connor Carrick:

Meanwhile, around the time of the final whistle, Tkachuk’s “roughing” of Martin Marincin drew quite a bit of ire. You can see for yourself in the video above the post’s headline.

More than a few people believe that Tkachuk will be on the Department of Player Safety’s radar thanks to this moment.

There’s no doubt that he’s been making waves as a pest – really, from his first game in the NHL – but some believe he went over the line this time. He’s second in the NHL with 92 penalty minutes, by the way.

Patrick Marleau’s magical third period secures Sharks win vs. Avalanche

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At 37 years old and nearing 500 career goals, there aren’t a ton of things Patrick Marleau has failed to accomplish.* Still, he did something he’s never done – and few players have managed to do – in the San Jose Sharks’ 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.

The amusing thing is that it was a mundane night for Marleau and the Sharks heading into the third period.

They carried a 2-1 lead against the Avs before Marleau’s magical period really kicked into gear. In less than eight minutes of game time, Marleau managed an out-of-left-field natural hat trick:

He didn’t stop there, either, as he also hit the four-goal mark for the first time in his career … and again, it was in the same period.

That’s his first four-goal game (and period, naturally). It’s been a long, long time since someone enjoyed a period like Marleau did:

Speaking of history, this massive night indeed places Marleau close to another impressive feat. He’s now at 497 career goals, three away from the elusive 500 mark.

To underscore how unexpected this outburst was, consider this: Marleau generated zero goals and one assist in his previous seven games.

As the Sharks enjoy an era fueled by the ascent of Brent Burns and the passing of the torch from the likes of Marleau and Joe Thornton to a group including Logan Couture and Martin Jones, it seems fitting that Marleau – a player receding from the team’s spotlight – totally stole the spotlight on Monday.

The Sharks probably won’t complain, either. He helped them seal their fifth consecutive win, putting San Jose in a strong position to regain the lead in the Pacific Division.

Pretty good stuff from a guy who rapidly faded from relevance after being stripped of the Sharks captaincy.

* – How dare you make Stanley Cup jokes on a happy occasion for Sharks fans?

Capitals assert their dominance once again, this time clobbering Hurricanes

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after assisting Justin Williams #14 on a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Verizon Center on January 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The Washington Capitals lead the league in standings points … and maybe in swagger. At least, it feels that way lately.

Monday presented their latest display of power as the Carolina Hurricanes had no answer for the Capitals machine. Washington clobbered Carolina by a score of 6-1, but at least the Hurricanes can take comfort in joining a rather large group of teams who’ve been humbled by Braden Holtby & Co.

This makes the Capitals 11-0-1 during a dominant run; they’ve scored at least a point in all but one game since Dec. 21.

Honestly, you can dice up their hot streak in a variety of ways, as Washington’s been outstanding since at least early December. Margin of victory might be the most jaw-dropping way to illustrate Washington’s dominant run:

Yep, that’s something else.

Dmitry Orlov was one of the standouts of this latest win, scoring two goals. His strong night and flashes of brilliance prompted Alex Ovechkin to … maybe go a little over the top.

Hey, when you’re on fire like the Capitals have been lately, it’s probably tough to make some pretty bold comparisons.

Things might be turning around for Lundqvist (not so much for the Kings)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13:  Marian Gaborik #12 of the Los Angeles Kings shakes hands with Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers after the Kings 3-2 double-overtime victory during Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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As you likely know, the 2017 NHL All-Star Game is coming to Los Angeles this weekend. If the Kings don’t get it together, that might be the biggest hockey event for some time, as they’re currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

Monday presented what felt like a story of one cold streak continuing to fade away while the other only seems to get icier.

The positive side: Henrik Lundqvist might just be working through that slump.

The New York Rangers beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday, and it wasn’t a walk in the park for Lundqvist. He made 36 out of 38 stops, giving him a personal three-game winning streak in which he’s allowed just four total goals.

Some of those stops were pretty impressive, too:

(He also shut down a Jeff Carter breakaway, which is obviously no easy task.)

While Lundqvist is getting it together, the Kings might just be a little worried after dropping their fourth straight loss.

They’re at 48 points in 47 games, leaving them three points behind the West’s two wild card teams and two behind the Canucks.

The Kings have experience fighting through challenges like these, but they’ve also fallen short of getting into the West’s top eight, and their schedule is awfully road-heavy:

Tuesday: at Devils
Thursday: at Hurricanes
Tuesday, Jan. 31: at Coyotes
Wednesday, Feb. 1: vs. Avalanche
Saturday, Feb. 4: at Flyers
Sunday, Feb. 5: at Capitals
Tuesday, Feb. 7: at Lightning
Thursday, Feb. 9: at Panthers

Some of those opponents are struggling and the All-Star break might allow for a breather, but that could still be a problematic stretch, especially if the Kings are in a fragile state.

Then again, if they look at Lundqvist’s upward trend, they can note that fortunes can change pretty quickly in 2016-17.