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.

The Buzzer: Special nights for Seguin, Boyle, Rinne

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Player of the Night: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars.

There some nice three-point nights on Friday, including nights involving Seguin’s opponents (Johnny Gaudreau scored one goal and two assists while Sean Monahan had 2G, 1A) and the guy who got picked ahead of Seguin many moons ago (Taylor Hall had a three-point night and a big hit).

While you might feel the urge to ding Seguin for getting an empty-netter to collect a hat trick, he already covered the cool points portion of this contest earlier in the game with a sweet lacrosse-style goals.

(I can’t get enough of those types of goals. Am I alone in that account?)

Seguin crossed the 200-goal mark tonight, by the way.

Highlight of the Night: Normally, I wouldn’t double-dip on a highlight, but it really cannot be overstated how cool it was that Brian Boyle finished this brilliant assist by Will Butcher on Hockey Fights Cancer night. (Also, the Seguin bit included his lacrosse goal anyway, so due diligence.)

He definitely was emotional on Friday, as his family participated in the ceremonial puck drop. Here’s hoping he can stay healthy enough to score many more going forward.

Streak-breaker: Jack Eichel helps the Sabres beat Connor McDavid and the Oilers. Buffalo had been on a seven-game skid.

This was the best goal from Buffalo’s 3-1 win, though:

Factoids:

On a night when the Stars honored great two-way Finnish forward Jere Lehtinen, Pekka Rinne moved all alone for first all-time among Finnish goalies for shutouts, edging his former backup Carter Hutton in the process:

It almost feels like the Vegas Golden Knights send a new (positive) record every night they play. (More on their win here.)

Bearded wonder Joe Thornton now has his sights set on Super Mario:

Injuries might obscure Nino Niederreiter‘s hot run, but it’s time to take notice if you haven’t already.

Scores

Bruins 4, Penguins 3
Jets 4, Ducks 1
Wild 3, Avalanche 2 (SO)
Islanders 5, Flyers 4
Capitals 3, Lightning 1
Golden Knights 5, Sharks 4 (OT)
Sabres 3, Oilers 1
Devils 3, Canucks 2
Rangers 2, Red Wings 1 (OT)
Blue Jackets 5, Senators 2
Maple Leafs 5, Hurricanes 4
Predators 2, Blues 0
Coyotes 3, Kings 2 (OT)
Stars 6, Flames 4

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.

Golden Knights pad Pacific lead, even with Burns’ first goal

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Coming into Friday’s game, what was stranger: Brent Burns having zero goals on the season despite 84 shots on goal in 20 games, or the Vegas Golden Knights leading the Pacific Division?

Both points ended up being relevant to the discussion, as Burns finally scored his first goal of 2017-18 to help the San Jose Sharks rally for a “loser point,” but the Golden Knights ultimately won 5-4 in OT.

With that, the Golden Knights won their fourth game in a row and now have 29 standings points, making for at least a slight cushion for the Pacific Division lead (the Kings are in action, but at 26 points, they’ll trail Vegas even if they manage a comeback win).

Vegas probably wasn’t happy to see a three-goal lead dissolve, yet the Golden Knights just keep plugging away. They enjoyed a strong output from three forwards with plenty to prove in James Neal (one goal, one assist), William Karlsson (two goals), and Jonathan Marchessault (one goal and two assists). Both Neal and Karlsson are at 12 goals on the season now.

The Golden Knights do have a bit to be concerned with, though, and that’s not limited to giving up the lead. Maxime Lagace “wasn’t feeling good” so he left the game for Malcolm Subban, while David Perron suffered an upper-body injury and did not return thanks to this questionable check:

Even in defeat, Burns has to feel relief with this goal:

Heck, even the Sharks seemed to wipe a little sweat off of their brows as the beastly blueliner finally scored.

(Eh, Burns might need a few more goals to get people to stop complaining about his fantasy value. Sorry, Sharks.)

Joe Thornton‘s two assists helped the Sharks secure a standings point, and now he sits alone at 12th all-time in assists, passing Joe Sakic.

The Golden Knights continue to be one of the most heartening stories in the NHL, but even in grabbing the extra point, they’re only five ahead of the Sharks. Fighting off regression won’t be easy for the Golden Knights, yet they have incentive to push for some sort of home-ice advantage, as they improved to an impressive 9-1-0 in Vegas so far in their inaugural season.

You never know how far a good run might take you, so don’t blame the Golden Knights for letting it ride.

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.

Video: Devils’ Butcher with some razzle dazzle to set up Boyle

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If you’re the type to get annoyed when college free agents soak up a lot of attention during the dog days of the hockey summer (Brandon Dubinsky is nodding), you were probably fed up with defenseman Will Butcher by the time he chose the New Jersey Devils as his destination.

Well, at least the 22-year-old blueliner is backing up the hype, especially when it comes to setting up goals.

Butcher’s 15th assist (and 17th point of the season) ranks as one of his best yet, as he totally baffled the Vancouver Canucks before setting up a Brian Boyle goal. You can watch that sweet helper in the video above this post’s headline.

Speaking of Devils rookies, it seems like Nico Hischier is OK after this Alex Edler hit, but the Devils might be wise to keep an eye on the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, as this looked a little worrisome:

Again, it seems like Hischier avoided injury, yet we shall see.

There was also this big hit by Taylor Hall on rising Canucks forward Brock Boeser:

The Devils ended up beating the Canucks 3-2 on Friday.

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.

Well, at least Flyers are getting ‘loser points’

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Love it or hate it, the loser point is a reality in the NHL, and the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the teams that really make things weird with what is now an 8-9-6 record in 2017-18.

8-9-6. Look at that. It almost makes your eyes hurt, right? Something just seems wrong about that.

No doubt about it, there are a lot of reasons to be frustrated if you’re a Flyers fan right now. Most obviously: they’ve now lost seven straight games after falling 5-4 in OT to the New York Islanders. Philly came into the third period with a 4-2 lead that they squandered, aside from getting a “loser point.” There’s at least some frustration with head coach Dave Hakstol:

Still, in this weird standings format, not all losing streaks are equal.

Bad: They dropped two straight games to the Islanders. Good-ish: At least both games went to overtime.

Bad: Yeah, teams that want to take the next step can’t afford many slumps like seven games without a win. Good-ish: They grabbed four points during this skid. They’re at least scrapping for points when they can, in general; while they only have two wins in their last 10 games, yet they’ve managed at least a standings point in all but three (2-3-5, ugh).

Bad: The Flyers are tied for last in the Metropolitan Division, and they’re really last since they’ve generated 22 points in 23 games while the Hurricanes have that many in 20 games played. Good-ish: While they have disadvantages that would force them to make a real run to do damage, you can’t rule out the Flyers in the wild card races.

Ultimately, this team remains … perplexing.

They have one foot in the current, with good stuff like the dominant Claude GirouxSean CouturierJakub Voracek line in mind, even if some of that makes moves like the Brayden Schenn trade sting a little extra. On the other hand, they’re trying to bring along a group of wet-behind-the-ears defensemen, and there’s a fear that that group will take long enough to hit its stride than some of those forwards will start to hit the wall of regression.

Ultimately, it might be crucial for GM Ron Hextall to figure out what to emphasize in the near future, particularly the trade deadline.

At the moment, the Flyers are essentially aiming for the best of both worlds: developing that young talent while hoping to be competitive. That’s a great have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too scenario, but sometimes teams really lower their ceilings by being too trigger-shy to commit one way or the other.

You’d think with a seven-game losing streak, that Philly would be downright-bad. Instead, they seem more stuck in the middle, and such a situation presents its own set of problems, or at least some head-scratching questions.

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.