Riding the Zamboni – Friday, January 21st

Here are recaps of Friday’s 7:30 pm ET games. We’ll take a look at the Dallas Stars-Calgary Flames contest later on.

Montreal 7, Ottawa 1

Talk about two teams going in completely different directions. The Habs are only one point behind the Bruins for the Northeast Division lead as they’ve spun off a 7-1-2 run in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Senators are now win-less in five games, with a 1-7-2 mark in their last 10.

The stark contrast between these two clubs was highlighted on Friday night, as the Canadiens scored the last five goals after a respectably competitive 2-1 first period. Alex Kovalev returned after missing six games with a knee injury but obviously didn’t help Ottawa much.

Tomas Plekanec scored two goals while Andrei Kostitsyn and Max Pacioretty scored a goal and an assist each. Carey Price stopped 33 out of 34 shots while the Habs power play was an efficient 2 for 3 in the game.

NY Islanders 5, Buffalo 2

While these wins might be considering “consolation prizes” at this point for the draft lottery bound Islanders, the young team certainly could use a confidence boost after years of losing and losing often. They’re far from a playoff team right now, but they’ve been a bit frisky as of late.

The Islanders scored the game’s first four goals before Nathan Gerbe provided two tallies in only five seconds for the Sabres. It wasn’t enough to help Buffalo earn a last minute comeback, though, as Michael Grabner iced the game with an empty-netter. Kevin Poulin stopped 26 out of 28 shots for the Isles.

Tampa Bay 2, Florida 1 (SO)

You have to wonder how a team with a negative goal differential will fair in the playoffs, but the Lightning are scrapping their way to valuable wins. They’re now on a three game winning streak, all thanks to shootout wins against the Panthers, Thrashers and Blue Jackets.

It sounds like Dominic Moore’s shootout goal was a bit controversial in this game, but the Lightning won the “skills competition” based on that tally all the same.

In a rare night of good goaltending by someone not named Dwayne Roloson, the Lightning received stellar netminding via Dan Ellis. He stopped 29 out of 30 shots and was perfect in the shootout. Tomas Vokoun wasn’t as busy, but he stopped 19 out of 20 and only allowed that debatable Moore goal in the shootout.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.