Riding the Zamboni – Friday, January 14th

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Vancouver 4 – Washington 2

In what some were calling a potential Stanley Cup finals showdown, the Canucks showed the Caps what they’re all about. Daniel Sedin scored two goals while Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler each had a goal and an assist to lead the Canucks to victory. Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots in the win. For Washington, they were still without Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin was held without a point. Matt Hendricks and Marcus Johansson scored for Washington who continue their recent struggles dropping their third in a row. Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 shots in the loss.

Philadelphia 5 – Atlanta 2

The Flyers rebounded nicely after a brutal loss against Boston last night pouring five goals on Ondrej Pavelec and the Thrashers. Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky got back on the winning side stopping 27 shots. Pavelec had a tough night dealing with the Flyers in the third period as they scored three goals late (including an empty netter) to ice the game. Pavelec made 31 saves in the loss. Daniel Briere scored his 24th goal of the season for Philly. Flyer fans are still wondering if his All-Star invitation got lost in the mail.

New Jersey 5 – Tampa Bay 2

Right when we get all excited about the Lightning and Dwayne Roloson they go and lose to the basement dwelling Devils in ugly fashion. Roloson started but didn’t finish the game after giving up four goals in the first period. Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice for New Jersey giving him 12 on the season. Brian Rolston and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils who won their first road game since November 3rd snapping a streak of 11 straight road losses. At least Tampa Bay got a goal and an assist each from Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis with St. Louis’ goal being of the highlight variety. Still, a frustrating outcome for Tampa Bay in that they could’ve put some distance between themselves and their Southeast Division foes who lost tonight.

Columbus 3 – Detroit 2 (F/SO)

It was a heart-warming win for the Blue Jackets as their home win over Detroit was able to snap a string of five losses in a row and was able to make money for charity. Blue Jackets fans put up over $5000 for their “Money on the Board” fundraiser and with the win, the Jackets team is matching their output to give money to the Blue Jackets Foundation. The Jackets got the win in the shootout after Antoine Vermette was able to beat Joey MacDonald. MacDonald got into the game because Jimmy Howard left in the first period with a bruised knee.

It was a rough game for Detroit as they found out after it was over that Tomas Holmstrom broke his hand and will be out indefinitely. Detroit will have to bounce back fast as they’ll play the Jackets again tomorrow night.  Grant Clitsome and Jakub Voracek scored for Columbus while Drew Miller and Jiri Hudler scored for Detroit. Steve Mason stopped 26 shots in the win.

Colorado 4 – Minnesota 1

With the Wild having health issues with their goalies, Anton Khudobin was called up and tasked with the job of having to stop one of the league’s top offenses. After two periods, it was clear that wouldn’t happen as the Avalanche jumped out to a 3-0 lead and the Wild left the ice to a chorus of boos. The Avalanche got stellar goaltending out of Craig Anderson for the first time in a long time as Anderson stopped 32 shots in the win. Khudobin, on the other hand, stopped just 14 shots and gave up an embarrassing goal in the second period to Tomas Fleischmann on an innocent dump in.

The game was marred by an ugly incident involving Ryan O’Reilly as he lost an edge and crashed head first into the boards. He was taken from the ice on a stretcher and taken to the hospital for observation. Good news for him, however, as he flew home with the team to Denver.

Calgary 3 – Ottawa 2

Don’t let the score fool you, this game wasn’t exactly close. The Flames got two goals from David Moss and a third goal from Ales Kotalik to ice the Senators in the second period. Henrik Karlsson made it stand up with 33 saves on the night. The Senators made it close in the third with goals from Nick Foligno and Milan Michalek, but Michalek’s goal came with under a minute to go and the Senators already skating uphill to get back in it.

For Ottawa it’s an especially poor effort coming off their win over the Islanders to snap their losing streak. It’s apparently a poor enough effort to get the Ottawa Sun to call for coach Cory Clouston to be fired for starting Brian Elliott tonight instead of 19 year-old rookie Robin Lehner.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.