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.

Here’s what deal between women’s team, USA hockey is reportedly worth

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It’s great news that the U.S. women’s national team and USA Hockey came together on a deal for the upcoming world championships.

Still, all we really know is that the contract lasts four years, as the two sides decided to keep the dollar figures between each other.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell laid out a lot of the possible numbers on his Twitter feed, giving us an idea of what reportedly sealed the deal.

First things first, Campbell reports that the deal is worth $3.7-$4 million overall.

That’s quite the impressive number on face value, but what does it mean for players over a four-year contract?

Campbell reports that earnings will range between $850K and $950K, depending upon how they perform in the tournament:

They’ll also receive the same travel and other miscellaneous amenities as the men’s team, but what about years that are more about training than competition?

Interesting stuff. Definitely check out Campbell’s feed for additional details.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.

Milestones: Matthews, Nylander break Leafs rookie records; Chara hits 600

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Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.

With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.

That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:

Switching gears, let’s go from new to (relatively) old: Zdeno Chara collected the 600th point of his outstanding career with an assist:

Yes, it’s true that most people think of his imposing size and all-world defensive instincts in praising Chara, but he’s been a respectable point producer, too.

U.S. women end boycott, will represent USA Hockey at worlds

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The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.

The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)

“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

The U.S. women’s national team is scheduled to face Canada on Friday.

Here’s a screen cap of the press release for your convenience: