Riding the Zamboni – January 22nd; Kings get back at Coyotes, Sharks continue streaking

San Jose 4 – Minnesota 3

Don’t look now but the Sharks have won four straight. Devin Setoguchi scored twice while rookie Logan Couture continues to get it done adding a goal of his own. Antti Niemi played strong in goal saving 23 shots. The hard-luck guy of the night was Wild starter Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom made 38 saves in a losing effort as the Sharks outskated and outhustled the Wild all night long. The win keeps the Sharks in line with the Blackhawks and Ducks in the race for the final two playoff spots in the West and also puts some space between themselves and Minnesota in that race. Things are a bit tight in the West.

Los Angeles 4 – Phoenix 3

After the mayhem that erupted after these two met earlier this week with Kings GM Dean Lombardi losing his cool, the Kings got out to a 3-0 lead early and ended the first period up 3-1. In the second period they’d give it back when Martin Hanzal scored and Lee Stempniak added his second goal of the game. Jarret Stoll would get the eventual game-winner in the third on an acrobatic goal, one that he needed about as bad as the Kings did. The win snaps a three game slide for the Kings and gets them caught up a little bit with the rest of the division as they finally crack the 50 point barrier.

Calgary 4 – Vancouver 3 (F/SO)

For what turned out to be a really exciting game will only be known for how it was decided in the shootout. Alex Tanguay appeared to be stopped by Roberto Luongo on his attempt but Luongo slid almost fully across the goal line while making the save. The official ruled it no-goal on the ice, but the call went to replay. On the video, there was no way to see the puck underneath the pads nor where it was located and it was assumed that the puck had crossed the line. The call was changed to a goal and the Flames skated away as winners. While the call was correct and logical, it’s stunning to see logic factor into a replay decision. Alex Edler potted two goals for the Canucks while Tim Jackman had a goal and an assist for Calgary.

NY Rangers 3 – Atlanta 2 (F/SO)

A gutsy comeback victory for the Rangers in Atlanta as Mats Zuccarello continued his shootout mastery scoring the winner in the skills competition. Zuccarello is now 3-for-3 in shootout attempts this year and has become a valuable weapon there with guys like Alex Frolov and Erik Christensen out with injuries. Brian Boyle scored his 17th goal of the year for New York and it was a clutch one tying the game at two with just over five minutes to play. Ondrej Pavelec played strong for Atlanta in the loss stopping 29 shots. Henrik Lundqvist was a bit less busy stopping 20 shots and all three he saw in the shootout.

Pittsburgh 3 – Carolina 2

Pittsburgh held on to get an important win over the Canes despite Carolina coming on strong in the third period. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots in the win while Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu, and Pascal Dupuis all had goals. Carolina got back into the game with under five minutes to play after getting goals from Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal but couldn’t punch home the equalizer. The Pens have had a bad habit of letting teams back into the game in the third period this season but they were able to bend and not break in this one.

Columbus 5 – St. Louis 2

In a battle between teams having a hard time of late in the Central Division, the Jackets were able to roll to victory in St. Louis thanks to virtually everyone. 13 different Columbus skaters registered a point in the victory including six different goal scorers. Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard each had two assists while Steve Mason had a quiet night stopping 19 shots in the win. The win tied Columbus with St. Louis in the Central with 51 points and was their second straight victory. Baby steps for the Blue Jackets as they look to regain the winning form they had earlier this season.

Anaheim 3 – Montreal 2 (F/SO)

Washington 4 – Toronto 1

Boston 6 – Colorado 2

It was Brad Marchand’s coming out party for the Bruins. The rookie forward had four points with two goals and two assists to help lead Boston to the blowout victory. Somehow, those four points weren’t enough to get Marchand the number one star of the game. Tough crowd. Those honors went to the ageless Mark Recchi who had a goal and two assists. Tim Thomas was strong once again in goal stopping 32 shots while Avs starter Craig Anderson was miserable getting pulled after giving up four goals through two periods and stopping 24. The story of the game might end up being the loss of Marc Savard as he was knocked out of the game in the second period after taking a hit from Matt Hunwick and hitting his head against the glass.

Recaps from this afternoon: New Jersey beats Philly while Chicago takes out Detroit

Math may help build Vegas Knights, but biggest aim is not being boring

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Unlike Pierre Dorion, it sounds like Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee would rather listen to analytics-minded people rather than … you know, hit them.

As McPhee readies for the expansion draft, he told The Star’s Kevin McGran in Q&A that they’ll at least be factored into decisions.

I’ve been really fascinated by how revealing that data can be. You have these kids speaking a different language. But I’m convinced it has a really important place in this game. You have to pay attention to it, and you have to use it.

Naturally, the real question with McPhee and other executives comes down to how much they will lean on analytics. Some teams seem to pick and choose when to listen to such voices, ending up with an odd mix of moves that please and unnerve the “fancy stats” community.

Owner Bill Foley gave a good idea of how much they’ll lean on stats vs. more traditional approaches in an interview with the Vegas Hockey Hotline back in February, which was transcribed by The Hockey Writers’ Keith Scheessele.

“Analytics is not going to drive how we draft,” Foley said. “Analytics are going to supplement what the scouts are seeing. We’re going to rely on the scouts and what they recommend.”

(Foley also spoke of rating players in 10 different categories, which started to make one think about how old sports video games could only quantify skills in so many ways. Anyway …)

So, it sounds like McPhee & Co. will take a modern approach – a mixture of the old and the new – rather than going full-on bold and revolutionary like, say, the Cleveland Browns or Golden State Warriors.

Considering the mystery of roster quality one faces with the Vegas Knights, it honestly might be most important that McPhee is repeatedly stating that he doesn’t aim to put together a boring hockey team.

Hey, if it takes a while to be good, at least the Vegas Knights might fit with their environment and put on a show.

Tarasenko’s two goals help Blues tie series with Predators

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One of the (many) remarkable things about the St. Louis Blues dispatching the Minnesota Wild was that they didn’t need a ton of production from Vladimir Tarasenko. He didn’t score a goal until the clinching game of that series.

The Blues needed more from him tonight, and he responded with two huge goals to help St. Louis win 3-2 in Game 2, tying the second-round series at 1-1.

Tarasenko scored the opening goal on that major power-play opportunity from the Vernon Fiddler knee on Colton Parayko, while Joel Edmundson wisely got out of the way to let Tarasenko nab the game-winner.

That ended up being the decisive factor as the Nashville Predators finally lost their first game of the postseason.

St. Louis must be breathing a sigh of relief for a number of reasons. The series shifts to Nashville for Games 3 and 4, so going down 2-0 might have been lethal.

Even beyond that, the Blues had some breaks go their way that likely won’t repeat to the same degree in future contests. The Predators didn’t receive a single power-play opportunity while St. Louis spent significant chunks of the contest on the man advantage, going 1-for-5 (but again, that includes a major).

The Blues also won despite what must have been a frustrating start. They only managed a 1-1 tie after the first 20 minutes despite holding Nashville to a mere three shots on goal.

The Predators also managed leads of 1-0 and 2-1, yet the Blues kept fighting to get back in this series. Game 3 will air on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App (Click here for the livestream link).

* – That said, he made a lot of commotion to set up Edmundson’s overtime game-winner from Game 1. That connection continued on Friday, as you likely noticed.

WATCH LIVE: Game 2 for Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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P.K. Subban certainly made his presence felt to begin the Predators’ series vs. the Blues. Leon Draisaitl stole the spotlight in helping the Oilers beat the Ducks in their Game 1. Who will step up in Game 2 of each series? We’ll find out soon.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Preds lead 1-0)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 1.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks (Oilers lead 1-0)

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Edmonton’s 5-3 win in Game 1.

Hagelin might be available for Penguins in Game 2

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WASHINGTON (AP) Carl Hagelin could be bringing his trademark speed back to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Hagelin will be a game-time decision to return for Game 2 against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night after being out since March 10 with a lower-body injury. The lightning-quick wing took part in a full-contact practice Friday and has progressed far enough in his recovery to be an option to play.

“He brings that element of speed, his ability to stretch the ice, his pursuit game, forces turnovers all the time and we can create a lot of offense off of it,” Sullivan said. “He’s a good penalty killer, he’s a solid two-way player, so we can use him in a number of different capacities, but I think his speed certainly helps us play the type of game that we want to play and we’re a more competitive team when he’s in the lineup.”

Hagelin called it a “step in the right direction” but said it’s difficult to determine if he’ll feel good enough to play.

“You always want to play,” the 28-year-old Swede said. “It’s always hard to say, but out there today it felt good. It felt like I was moving, and I’m excited, that’s for sure.”

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven second-round series 1-0. The Penguins are a much stronger team with the return of veteran wing Chris Kunitz and Hagelin, whose speed could make it even more difficult on the Capitals.

“He can put teams back on their heels,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “He doesn’t need a lot of room to make a play. … He can help in a lot of different areas.”

If Hagelin is cleared to return, Sullivan says it will be a difficult decision who comes out. Depth is one of the Penguins’ strengths, so it’s incredible that former first-line wing Conor Sheary could be the odd-man out after being demoted to the third line and struggling in some areas.

“We know Conor has a much better game, and that’s what we’re trying to help him get to,” Sullivan said. “The last couple I don’t think have been his best, but certainly he’s a guy that’s played a lot of really good hockey for this team.”

So has Hagelin, who was part of the famed “HBK” line along with Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel during Pittsburgh’s 2016 Stanley Cup run. He had 16 points in 24 games last season.

“Haggy’s a great two-way player,” Kessel said. “He’s a fast player out there. He brings speed, and he’s a smart player out there. Whenever you get a guy like that back it’s big for your team.”

It’s especially big if Hagelin can get his wheels back right away. Being out of the lineup for six weeks makes that a challenge but one he’s eager to undertake.

“Speed should be there,” Hagelin said. “You don’t know that till you’re in the game. “That’s what’s fun about hockey. You go out there and usually you feel like you pick it up right where you left off.”

More AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey