Riding the Zamboni – Tuesday, December 28th

For a rundown of Crosby pushing his scoring streak to 25 games and the Penguins pounding the Thrashers 6-3, click here. We also discussed the Blues’ 3-1 defeat of the Blackhawks and Chicago’s far bigger loss in the form of Jonathan Toews’ injury in this post.

Now let’s take a look at the night’s seven other contests.

Washington 3, Montreal 0

The Penguins might be the hotter team going into the Winter Classic, but Washington is starting to heat up a bit themselves after recovering from that awful 12-game losing streak. I guess it’s a good thing that 24/7 was a month-long project instead of a one-shot operation, right?

Semyon Varlamov starred in this one, with a 25-save shutout, while Mike Green, Jay Beagle and Alex Ovechkin scored their goals.

Carolina 4, Toronto 3

I’ve said this a couple times already, but if any team outside of the East’s top eight could creep back into playoff contention, it might be the Hurricanes. They somewhat resemble the Blue Jackets in that their young goalie (Cam Ward, 43 saves) and Eric Staal (two goals) occasionally come through to carry them to victory.

(For the record, I would take Ward/Staal over Rick Nash and Steve Mason, mainly because of the disparity in net.)

Boston 4, Tampa Bay 3

Steven Stamkos is the reason Tampa Bay won quite a few games this season, but his boarding penalty late in tonight’s game cost them a point or two. (To be fair, Stamkos helped them stay in the game in the first place, with a goal and an assist tonight.) The ageless wonder Mark Recchi scored a power play game-winner with 20 seconds left to beat the Lightning in a competitive contest.

Dallas 4, Nashville 2

Two facets of the Stars’ team powered Dallas to first place in the Pacific at this point: their great Brad Richards-Loui Eriksson-James Neal first line and the surprisingly healthy Kari Lehtonen and his unexpectedly healthy backup Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft made 44 shots in this one while Dallas came back from an early 2-1 deficit in the third to win yet again.

Buffalo 4, Edmonton 2

Ryan Miller made 29 saves and Mike Weber had a great two goal, one assist game to help Buffalo have a much better day than yesterday. Emerson Etem took back his mean comments about the city (kind of) and they won against the Oilers after losing to Calgary on Monday. They’ll take it.

Anaheim 3, Phoenix 1

The Ducks were ruthless with Ilya Bryzgalov in his first game since December 15th, scoring three goals on nine shots in the third period. Meanwhile Jonas Hiller stole the spotlight with a 31-save performance. Nothing will come easily for anyone in this division, it seems.

Vancouver 6, Philadelphia 2

Earlier today, I wrote that Ryan Kesler would fit right in as a center in Philadelphia in some alternate hockey universe. He looked awfully good as a Canuck tonight, scoring two goals and one assist as Vancouver absolutely dominated Philly. Henrik Sedin earned three assists and Roberto Luongo made 35 saves to dominate this game between two possible Cup contenders.

The Rocket’s slowest assist: Maurice Richard gets point 72 years later

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MONTREAL (AP) Montreal Canadiens great Maurice “Rocket” Richard is getting an assist added to his career totals.

Six years of poring over scoresheets and summaries of games between 1917 and 1987 by an NHL statistics team has found and fixed more than 6,000 bits of information that were overlooked or miscounted in the league’s early eras.

Among the finds was an assist on Toe Blake’s goal at 10:15 of the second period of the Canadiens’ 6-5 loss to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 4, 1945, during a time when the Punch Line of Richard, Blake and Elmer Lach was dominant.

The scoresheet that night, scratched out in handwriting, correctly had Richard with the lone assist. But when it was transcribed into the league’s official ledger, it was mistakenly given to Emile Bouchard.

The restored assist gives Richard 422 in an 18-year career that ended in 1960, and his points total climbs to 966. For the 1945-46 season, one year after he made history as the first to score 50 goals in a season, he now has 27 goals and 22 assists. The new totals are already entered in Richard’s stats on NHL.com.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t a goal, because Richard’s then-record career total of 544 has become an iconic number. A big deal is often made when an NHL star scores his 544th, such as when Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin did it at Montreal on Jan. 10.

In the early 1960s, Richard owned a bar called the 544/9 Tavern, a reference to his goals total and retired jersey number.

Since 1999, the league awards the Richard Trophy to the season’s leading goal-scorer.

Finding little gems of information like the Richard assist was one product of a massive undertaking to update and modernize the league database, which is to be re-launched this week.

NHL head statistician Benny Ercolani said fact-checking alone, such as adding one more game played to Ron Stackhouse’s total, took 2 1/2 years.

“Six thousand little corrections isn’t that high when you consider how many games were entered,” he said. “It sounds like a big number, but it’s from 1917-18 to 1986-87.”

Sometimes power-play or short-handed goals weren’t registered as such. Rules changes added to the muddle. In the league’s earliest days, minor penalties lasted 3 minutes instead of 2. There were years when up to four assists were awarded on a goal.

“In the old days, they didn’t keep descriptions of penalties – now that’s in there,” Ercolani said.

He said the new website statistics will allow users to find full information from the league’s entire 100-year history, and access them in new ways.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “There’s a lot of other stuff coming.

“Now that we’ve got the data, we can do a lot with it.”

Kraft Hockeyville: Blues beat Penguins in tune-up for season-opener

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Much like Sunday night, the St. Louis Blues will visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a game in Pennsylvania on Oct. 4. With that in mind, the more heated moments from tonight’s Kraft Hockeyville preseason match might be fresh on the minds of both teams when the games start to count.

In this case, the Blues carried the play from a variety of perspectives, including the final score of 4-1.

The Penguins got the first goal when Jake Guentzel finished a nice one-timer sequence set by Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, yet St. Louis was able to leverage its possession advantages to goals that beat Matt Murray up high.

The first one came from a familiar face in Vladimir Tarasenko, who aims for a Maurice Richard Trophy in 2017-18.

The game-winner was from 19-year-old Jordan Kyrou:

Paul Stastny then iced the game with a 3-1 empty-netter with a little less than 30 seconds remaining. Dmitrij Jaskin then made it 4-1 with a nice, patient score with Murray sprawling on the ice.

Carter Hutton deserves credit for a sharp win, but the final score didn’t do Murray’s alert evening justice, as the Blues fired 45 shots on him. This was probably the save of the contest:

While the Blues and Penguins wanted to be alert in this one, the stuff they might remember came down to rougher moments. Things started to escalate when Crosby mixed it up with Alex Pietrangelo.

As a preseason contest, some of this will likely be forgotten by veteran Penguins and Blues, but the people of Cranberry, Pa. and Belle Vernon, Pa. won’t soon forget the Kraft Hockeyville experience.

WATCH LIVE: Kraft Hockeyville featuring Penguins vs. Blues

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are set to host the St. Louis Blues to celebrate the latest edition of Kraft Hockeyville USA, with the game beginning at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Find out more about Kraft Hockeyville winner Belle Vernon, Pa. in the video above this post’s headline (and also in this post). The game itself is taking place at UPMC Lemieux Sports complex in Cranberry, Pa.

NHL.com captures some of the spectacle, as about 2,000 fans showed up and players signed autographs during what sounded like a very fun event.

Speaking of very fun, all signs point to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being among those players suiting up for the game itself.

Predators marvel at Fiala’s ‘beautiful’ work in preseason win

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Confession: It was difficult to shake the memory of Kevin Fiala‘s frightening injury from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you need a reminder of the scary moment that ended what seemed like a breakthrough run, the video can be seen above this headline.

Another confession: personally, there’s been some concern about how well Fiala can bounce back, at least early on. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the young forward is his blazing speed; what if that’s been taken away from him?

Now, scoring two goals in the Nashville Predators’ 5-3 preseason win against the Columbus Blue Jackets doesn’t mean Fiala will avoid missing a beat in 2017-18.

Forgive Predators fans for getting excited, anyway, especially with goals like these.

Wow.

Filip Forsberg got borderline-romantic about what Fiala did on Sunday, and again, can you really blame him?

Again, the true tests for both Fiala and the Predators begin in October. Still, it’s better to look impressive at this time of the year instead of to go in slow (or injured, as the unlucky St. Louis Blues seem to be doing).