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Riding the Zamboni – Sunday, January 2nd

Philadelphia 3 – Detroit 2

It had been 22 years since the Flyers last won in Detroit. The last time the Flyers won in Detroit, Ron Hextall was the main man in goal and Tim Kerr was an offensive force to be reckoned with back in November 1988. This time around it was Brian Boucher getting it done in goal while James van Riemsdyk, Dan Carcillo, and Scott Hartnell added the offense to beat Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings. The Wings mounted a threat in the third thanks to sitting Howard in favor of Chris Osgood and goals from Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg but couldn’t finish the job.

Atlanta 4 – Montreal 3 (F/OT)

Vancouver 2 – Colorado 1

Vancouver jumped to the top of the standings in the NHL by taking out a less-than edgy Colorado team. Alexandre Bolduc scored his first career goal and Mason Raymond added the eventual game-winner. Roberto Luongo held strong in goal stopping 31 shots. Paul Stastny scored late in the third to give the Avs some hope but it wouldn’t pan out.

Anaheim 2 – Chicago 1

A game without captains sees Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller steal the show. Hiller stopped 39 shots on his way to victory and kept the mostly punchless Ducks offense in position to win with just a couple of goals. Andreas Lilja scored his first goal while Corey Perry scored his 21st of the year.

Florida 3 – NY Rangers 0

It was just one of those nights for the Rangers and when you go up against Tomas Vokoun when he’s hot it makes for a long night. Vokoun stopped all 32 shots he saw in earning his fifth shutout of the season. David Booth, Chris Higgins, and Stephen Weiss each had a goal for Florida. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense has evaporated in Florida scoring just one goal against the Lightning and Panthers on this road trip.

Dallas 4 – St. Louis 2

The Stars used a big third period to take out the Blues. A three goal third period was kicked off by Brenden Morrow scoring his second goal of the game followed by Brad Richards and James Neal capping it off to give Dallas the win. Kari Lehtonen bounced back nicely stopping 28 shots in the win. Jaroslav Halak was a bit unlike himself stopping just 23 shots.

Nashville 4 – Columbus 1

Sometimes all it takes is the captain to step up and that’s what Shea Weber did tonight. Weber had a goal and two assists to lead the Predators to their second straight win. After going through such a slump before dropping five games in a row, back-to-back 4-1 wins is the kind of confidence boost the Preds needed, especially against a divisional foe.

Minnesota 6 – Phoenix 5 (F/OT)

A crazy, back and forth game ends with the Wild pulling out a rather improbable victory. Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored with 26 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. In overtime, Cam Barker would win it for Minnesota just 46 seconds into the extra session. Mikko Koivu topped the game with four assists while Andrew Brunette had two goals and an assist while Brent Burns had a goal and two assists. With each team having dueling meltdowns, it’s a gut-punch of a loss for Phoenix who stormed back into the game to tie it at 3-3 in the third and then lunged ahead 5-4 later in the period after trading goals with the Wild.

Lonnie Cameron, hockey-tough linesman, shakes off puck to head (Video)

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Talking about hockey toughness is pretty much a trope at this point, yet there are still moments that impress even the cynical among us.

Linesman Lonnie Cameron accomplished that for many on Tuesday, as he returned to the Nashville Predators – Vancouver Canucks game despite taking a puck to the head in a scary moment.

Judging by the Twitter feed of Brooks Bratten from the Predators’ website, Cameron missed mere minutes of time.

So, yeah, it seems like Cameron qualifies as “hockey tough.”

As far as the game itself went, the Canucks beat the Predators 1-0 thanks to Henrik Sedin‘s goal (his 999th point) and Ryan Miller‘s 30-save shutout.

Is this more than just a slump for Henrik Lundqvist?

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People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.

Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”

Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:

Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.

Is this time different?

Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.

Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.

While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.

Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.

He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percenate in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).

Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.

In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:

Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?

The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.

Supporting cast rallies Blackhawks in win against Avalanche

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For much of the season, the Colorado Avalanche’s biggest names have let them down while many believe that the Chicago Blackhawks are getting it done despite a mediocre supporting cast.

On Tuesday, the script was essentially flipped. The Avs’ stars were productive, yet so were lesser-known Chicago forwards like Tanner Kero and Vinne Hinostroza.

The most important narrative stayed the same, however, as the Blackhawks found a way to get by the Avalanche in a 6-4 decision.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but the Avs put together one of their best stretches of this lousy season. Blake Comeau tied it up, Matt Nieto scored his first goal with Colorado and then Matt Duchene answered Chicago’s only goal of the second period (by Kero) to give the Avalanche a 4-3 edge.

The Avalanche doubled Chicago’s shots on goal in the second period, generating an 8-4 edge. It felt like a rare moment where Colorado’s talent actually flexed its collective muscles.

Then the Blackhawks turned it on in the third, generating a 12-5 shot edge of their own and finding a way to win.

Hinostroza ended up making the biggest difference, scoring the tying and game-winning goals before Kero iced it with an empty-netter thanks to an unselfish pass by Jonathan Toews.

(It’s not to say that Chicago’s big names outright slept through this game, either. Toews got that assist and Marian Hossa made a bunch of plays to help make life easier for Hinostroza and Kero.)

This wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks are doing enough to get points night after night. On some nights, that’s the real difference between a contender like Chicago and a languishing squad like Colorado.

Blue Jackets move back to first in Metro, NHL after beating Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7:  Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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After stumbling for a bit, Tuesday was a reassuring night for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus moved back to the top of the Metropolitan Division (and thus, the NHL) because they now match the Washington Capitals’ 64 points but have more wins (30 to 29) and hold a game in hand.

Also comforting for Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the Blue Jackets net, allowing one goal on 25 shots.

They were probably also happy to see Brandon Dubinsky enjoy a strong night (two goals) and Boone Jenner collect an assist and this absolute beauty of a goal:

The Hurricanes actually did hold a 1-0 lead in this game, but it lasted all of 11 seconds, as that Jenner goal erased that advantage.

The Blue Jackets face the Senators in Columbus on Thursday and then host the Hurricanes once again on Saturday. They follow that up with five straight road games and six of seven away from home beginning on Jan. 22. Columbus will pass another big test if they can stick with the Capitals and the rest of the NHL’s best through that stretch.