Riding the Zamboni – Monday, January 10th

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Colorado 5 – Detroit 4

Colorado did their damage in the first period and never really looked back. The Avalanche scored four goals in the first, two from Matt Duchene, and chased Detroit starter Jimmy Howard from the game. In typical Avalanche fashion, the game was high scoring with Colorado holding a 4-2 lead after the first period.

Newly recalled Joey McDonald made his sudden appearance count though as he was able to hold the Avs to just one more goal through the rest of the game, but that one goal would be the game winner by David Jones on a 2-on-1 early in the second period to make it 5-2. The Wings made it interesting getting power play goals from Henrik Zetterberg in the second and Tomas Holmstrom in the third, but couldn’t knot it up. Peter Budaj made 26 saves in getting the win while McDonald stopped 15 of 16 shots. Howard was miserable saving just six out of ten shots he faced.

Boston 4 – Pittsburgh 2

What was a 2-0 lead for Pittsburgh vanished as the Penguins gave up four goals in the final 3:23 of the game to fall in insane fashion to Boston 4-2. Boston got power play goals from Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi, Recchi’s the game-winner, and others from Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell to make what was a great effort out of Marc-Andre Fleury into a gut-wrenching loss. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots in the win while Fleury saved 28 in the loss.

Phoenix 4 – St. Louis 3

A roller coaster game for Phoenix falls in their favor as they blew a 2-1 lead after the Blues scored 20 seconds apart early in the third with goals from Matt D’Agostini and Brad Winchester but bounced back big in the third. Kyle Turris led the charge tying the game with a goal and assisted five minutes later on Taylor Pyatt’s game-winner at 16:48. Jason LaBarbera got the start once again in net and held it together well stopping 33 shots in the win. Jaroslav Halak played well saving 29 shots while not getting great support from his teammates. The win is the Coyotes third in their last four games. For St. Louis, their up and down season rolls on on the downside as this was their fourth straight loss.

Toronto 3 – Los Angeles 2

The good news for L.A. is that they already broke their losing streak on Saturday night. The bad news is that they’ve now lost six of their last seven games and flat out got beat by the Leafs tonight. Nikolai Kulemin’s early third period goal snapped a 2-2 tie and James Reimer held strong in goal stopping 30 Kings shots. For the Leafs it’s an encouraging win considering that their lineup is very young and they’re getting help, finally, from Phil Kessel who had a goal in this game.It’s the Leafs third straight win, their longest streak since starting the season 4-0-0.

The Kings, meanwhile, have something wrong going on with them. Running into a hot goalie will happen now and again, but there’s something not quite working right in L.A.  GM Dean Lombardi might be in the position to shake things up a little bit to snap them out of it. A bit of defensive help could go a long way.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.