Riding the Zamboni – Saturday, January 8th

Philadelphia 2 – New Jersey 1

Brian Boucher did his job in holding off the woeful Devils. It was a game effort from the NHL’s worst team, but much like most of their other games it would turn out to be a loss in the end. James van Riemsdyk and Daniel Briere scored for Philly while Boucher saved 34 shots in the win. The two quick first period goals from Philly chased Johan Hedberg from the game and Martin Brodeur came off the bench to shut things down to the tune of 19 saves. The win was Philly’s third straight while the Devils dropped their fourth in row.

NY Islanders 4 – Colorado 3

John Tavares kept the Islanders from losing a heartbreaker by scoring his 14th goal of the season in overtime to give the Isles the win. Rookie Jeremy Colliton scored twice, his first two goals since 2005-2006, for the Islanders to help lead the way. The Isles had three power play goals on the night while Kevin Poulin earned his first NHL victory by stopping 34 shots. Milan Hejduk scored twice, including a goal with four seconds left to tie it up to lead the Avs. Enforcer David Koci also scored his first goal of the year to make sure that we all keep an eye out for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Tampa Bay 2 – Ottawa 1

Dwayne Roloson made up for his bad night against Pittsburgh in a big way tonight to hold off the spunky Sens. Roloson made 31 saves and the Lightning came back from a 1-0 hole in the third thanks to goals from Adam Hall and Martin St. Louis.

Minnesota 4 – Pittsburgh 0

Of course you predicted this outcome. Jose Theodore stops all 26 shots he faces en route to shutting out the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins. Martin Havlat scored his 10th goal of the year while Cal Clutterbuck scored his 13th to help lead the Wild to the win. Very quietly now the Wild are taking care of business coming off of wins over Boston and now Pittsburgh and winning four in a row. The Penguins, meanwhile, have lost four of their last five and fall behind the Flyers in the Atlantic Division.

Washington 3 – Florida 2

The Caps big guns came out to play as Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin each tallied goals en route to the win over a tough Florida squad. Winter Classic hero Eric Fehr continued his hot play of late scoring the Caps’ first goal of the night. Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 shots to earn the win. Florida’s most pleasant surprise this year, Mike Santorelli, scored his 11th goal of the year in the loss.

Montreal 3 – Boston 2 (F/OT)

The Bruins had a 2-0 lead in the third period. Key word: had. Goals by Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, with Gionta’s coming with under a minute to play, tied it up for the Habs. In overtime, it was Max Pacioretty putting home the game-winner before kicking off a post-game fracas with Zdeno Chara who took exception to Pacioretty’s presence on the ice. Whether it was frustration or not, the Bruins found a way to lose another tough game and fell into a first place tie in the Northeast Division with the rival Habs.

NY Rangers 2 – St. Louis 1

The Rangers offense was still somewhat absent, but they got enough with goals from Derek Stepan and Sean Avery to hold off the Blues. Martin Biron stopped 24 shots on the way to the win. The victory marks the Rangers’ third in a row and pulls them to within three points of Pittsburgh for second in the Atlantic Division.

Buffalo 2 – Phoenix 1 (F/OT)

Jason LaBarbera’s luck as an emergency starter ran out tonight as Drew Stafford’s overtime goal propelled Buffalo to their fourth win in five games. Ryan Miller stopped 33 shots on the way to the win while Jordan Leopold added a goal and an assist. Scottie Upshall scored his 12th goal of the season. LaBarbera stopped 30 shots in the tough loss.

Nashville 2 – San Jose 1

Pekka Rinne stood on his head in leading Nashville to victory. Rinne stopped 42 shots and allowed only a Logan Couture goal, his 19th of the season, on the way to a road trip sweep for the Predators. Sergei Kostitsyn’s third period goal was the game-winner early in the third period. The Predators close out their west coast swing going 3-0-0 and maintaining their five game win streak.

Detroit 2 – Vancouver 1 (F/SO)

Call it a statement game from the injury-laden Red Wings. Without Brad Stuart, Chris Osgood, and Dan Cleary the Wings were able to ride incredible goaltending from Jimmy Howard and a goal by Johan Franzen to get to the shootout. Jiri Hudler’s shootout goal was the only one of the skills competition part of the game and earned the Red Wings the victory. Daniel Sedin had Vancouver’s lone goal in regulation for Vancouver. For Detroit, the win is a big one and keeps them holding strong in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles 6 – Columbus 4

The Kings were able to snap their five game losing streak by jumping out to a 4-0 lead on the Jackets and fighting off a late surge by the Jackets to win 6-4. Jarret Stoll scored two goals while Jack Johnson added three assists to lead the Kings to victory. Justin Williams and Ryan Smyth each had a goal and an assist for the Kings while Jon Quick stopped 30 shots in the win. Rick Nash had two goals for Columbus in the loss while Mathieu Garon had30 saves.

Bruins will way to Game 7 win against Maple Leafs

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Once again, the Boston Bruins finished a Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, riding an overpowering third period. In the case of Wednesday’s game, the end result was a 7-4 win for the Bruins.

The 2018 edition featured some similarities to the Bruins’ 5-4 win back in 2013.

  • A Maple Leafs team headed for the summer shaking their heads and with some serious soul-searching to do.
  • The heartache that comes with the Leafs giving up leads. Toronto was up 1-0, 2-1, and 4-3. This wasn’t a collapse of the “It was 4-1” variety, but the Maple Leafs squandered multiple leads nonetheless.

  • The Bruins simply ran away with things in the third period. Boston went from being down 4-3 to winning 7-4. That domination included the Bruins keeping the Maple Leafs from registering a shot on goal through the first eight minutes of the final frame.

In the case of this latest Game 7, there were times when it seemed like the last shot on goal might be the winner.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Really, it was a nightmare game for both goalies. Frederik Andersen‘s Game 7 heartache is no longer limited to his time with the Anaheim Ducks, as he gave up six goals, including a few that are likely to haunt him during the off-season. The Lightning must be licking their chops at the prospect of exploiting what might be a fragile goalie in Tuukka Rask; the Bruins ended up on top in this one, yet Rask gave up four goals on 24 shots.

(Maybe a solid finish will help bolster his self-esteem? Rask stopped all eight Maple Leafs SOG in the third period after giving up those four goals on the first 18 shots he faced.)

If you want to summarize Game 7 in one video clip, Jake DeBrusk‘s second goal of the night (and eventual game-winner) could suffice. The Bruins simply demanded this win, showing off their skill and will while flabbergasting the overmatched Maple Leafs and a struggling Andersen:

Several players came up big on each side. DeBrusk scored those two goals and was quite the presence overall. Charlie McAvoy logged 26:43 of ice time with a +1 rating, while a blocked shot apparently didn’t really throw off Zdeno Chara, who managed a +2 rating and 28:38 TOI. Despite some warranted criticisms, David Krejci did manage to generate three assists, adding to a substantial playoff resume for his career. Patrick Marleau provided more than just a “veteran presence” for the Maple Leafs, scoring two goals during a zany first period.

Still, when it comes to the Maple Leafs, many will linger on those who fell short.

Andersen’s struggles were considerable, rounding out a remarkably hot-and-cold series overall. Auston Matthews failed to score a point despite firing four SOG, finishing the series with just a single goal and single assist. Jake Gardiner had an awful Game 7, suffering a -5 rating and absorbing some of the blame for multiple bad moments.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that Gardiner said “most” of the loss was on him and that the defenseman had tears in his eyes while asking questions.

“I didn’t show up,” Gardiner said.

The Bruins eliminated the Maple Leafs in an exhilarating fashion, carrying over an impressive regular season of puck-hogging play. They have plenty of room for improvement, something Jack Adams finalist Bruce Cassidy will surely emphasize as they turn their sights to a rested, versatile opponent in the Lightning.

If it’s anything like Bruins – Leafs, it should be thrilling … and maybe a goalie’s nightmare.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second round schedule, TV info

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The second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs is now set, thanks to the Boston Bruins winning Game 7 over the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-4. The Bruins will move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, while the Pittsburgh Penguins will meet the Washington Capitals to complete the Eastern Conference bracket. Out West, the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets will battle out of the Central Division and the Vegas Golden Knights take on the San Jose Sharks.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Here’s the full second round schedule, which kicks off with two games on Thursday night:

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Kapanen overwhelms Marchand, scores ridiculous goal

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To the chagrin of the coaches and goalies, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are keeping things hectic during the second period of Game 7.

Kasperi Kapanen seems like he’s perpetually battling for a permanent/more prominent spot with the Maple Leafs, but it’s not for a lack of trying or moxie. He’s been hitting posts on some near-misses lately, but saved some magic for tonight.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS DECISIVE GAME LIVE.

You can see that in a 4-3 goal that currently stands as the Maple Leafs’ lead. Kapanen overpowers Brad Marchand and then outwaits Tuukka Rask for an absolutely tremendous shorthanded goal.

(Check out that goal in the video above this post’s headline.)

Impressive, especially considering who that came against. At one point, the Maple Leafs had converted on both of their shots on goal early in the second period to go from being down 3-2 to up 4-3. As mentioned after that wild first period, you have to wonder about both goalies’ confidence, but that’s especially true of Rask right now.

To be fair, Kapanen’s showed a real knack for scoring big goals so far during his brief NHL career. As you may remember, he scored the game-winner in double overtime of Game 2 against the Washington Capitals during that tight series to start the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also helped them punch their ticket to the postseason in 2016-17 with his first NHL goal.

Then again, maybe this sort of goal is in the blood? Kasperi Kapanen’s shorthanded goal feels reminiscent of a great goal by his father Sami Kapanen:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins – Leafs Game 7 off to wild start, Reilly hit by puck

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You can forgive fans of the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs for hyperventilating right now, unless they’re merely staring blankly at their screens.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS DECISIVE GAME LIVE.

Game 7 accelerated to 100 mph seemingly in mere seconds on Wednesday:

  • After a Sean Kuraly penalty, Patrick Marleau deflected a puck past Tuukka Rask to give Toronto a stunning 1-0 lead off of a power-play goal just 2:05 into the contest.
  • A delay of game infraction gave the Bruins a chance to tie things up on the power play, and they did just that as David Krejci and David Pastrnak set up Jake DeBrusk. That happened 4:47 into the game.
  • Less than two minutes later, Patrick Marleau scored again, giving Toronto a 2-1 edge that wouldn’t last.
  • The two teams combined for four goals through less than half of the first period, as Danton Heinen showed why he should be playing with the 2-2 goal with 11:50 remaining in the opening frame.
  • The Bruins took their first lead (3-2) of Game 7 with less than a minute left in the first period thanks to a goal by Patrice Bergeron.

Those were just the goals, too, as there were some close calls, making you wonder about the confidence of Rask and Frederik Andersen:

The two teams are also accruing some bumps and bruises, which must be to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s liking.

In the most dramatic instance, Brad Marchand ducked a high Zdeno Chara shot, leaving an unsuspecting Morgan Rielly to take a puck to the face. It’s a scary moment, although the good news is that Rielly was able to return for the beginning of the second period.

Yikes.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Chara also seemed stung by a blocked shot during the first period, as he took a puck to his ankle/foot area. He didn’t appear to miss any time, and it would be tough to imagine him not fighting through it during a Game 7, yet you wonder if the hulking defenseman’s mobility might be hindered after that.

The Bruins and Leafs already put on a show through 20 minutes. We’ll see who’s left standing to face the Bolts, whether this game ends in regulation or hits sudden death in a Game 7.

*Gulp*

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.