Early Ride on the Zamboni – Monday, February 7th

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Here are summaries of tonight’s first three games. Expect recaps for the second half of games later on.

Toronto 5, Atlanta 4

At this pace, the Thrashers might become an obvious “seller” during the upcoming trade deadline. It seems like the team needs to make some kind of swap to bring in some new blood, as Toronto handed Atlanta their fourth consecutive loss. The Thrashers have only won two games in the last month.

It was a high-scoring affair between the two squads, as the Leafs and Thrashers have combined for 30 goals in their three contests.

The Thrashers actually took 2-0 lead into the first intermission before being outscored 5-2 in the last two periods. Dustin Byfuglien ended his scoring slump with a power-play goal while Phil Kessel remained stuck in his slump, but their teams produced different results.

Detroit 3, NY Rangers 2

It didn’t take long for Pavel Datsyuk to make an impact in his first appearance with the Red Wings after missing 19 games. Detroit had gone two games without scoring a single goal before Dastyuk scored on his own rebound in the second period. He added an assist for a successful return to action as the Red Wings squeezed out a tough win against the rugged Rangers.

Jimmy Howard has been struggling quite a bit lately (as Mike Milbury noted), but he stopped 45 out of 47 shots in this game. Martin Biron was solid in his second straight start, making 32 saves, but he wasn’t able to earn the win.

Edmonton 4, Nashville 0

The Predators have now lost five of their last six games, with their only win coming against the Red Wings (of all teams). Nashville remains in fourth place in the West, but they are rapidly falling back into the conference’s sizable bubble. While the Oilers don’t have as much to play for, it must have been a relief for them to end their four-game losing streak.

The Predators weren’t exactly sleep-walking to start this game, though, as they out-shot Edmonton 13-1 through the game’s first 10 minutes. Devan Dubnyk stood strong to earn a 37-save shutout, the first of his NHL career. Pekka Rinne didn’t have such a good night on the other end of the ice, as he was pulled late in the game after allowing four goals on only 20 shots.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?