Todd Bertuzzi, Pekka Rinne

Around the rink – February 9; Habs visit Boston, Preds and Wings clash

7:00 p.m.

Montreal @ Boston

These Original Six teams renew an age old rivalry and this time the Habs have a chance to get even with the Bruins for first in the Northeast Division with a win in regulation. The Bruins are slumping a bit of late and the Habs have been playing strong meaning that this game will be about as feisty as every other one involving these two. For the Canadiens, serving notice to Boston that they’ve got company in a race for the division title could be the sort of motivation they both need to play their best hockey. How the Bruins cope mentally with the loss of Marc Savard for the season will be important.

San Jose @ Columbus

The Sharks are on fire going 8-0-1 in their last nine games and going up a motivated Columbus team coming off a big win for them over a depleted Penguins squad. For the Jackets, it was their third win in a row and while their streak isn’t as impressive as San Jose’s, they’re playing good hockey of late. How the goaltending holds up in this game will be the real test as both teams are on the back end of back-to-back games.

7:30 p.m.

Nashville @ Detroit

An important battle in the race for supremacy in the Central Division. Detroit is hoping to keep Nashville at bay while the Predators would like to do what they did over the weekend in shutting out the Wings. One difference in this one should be that the Wings won’t have Joey MacDonald in goal this time around and Jimmy Howard will get a chance to play as strong as he did on Monday against the Rangers. Meanwhile, the Predators are looking to forget about being shutout by the Oilers 4-0 on Monday night. Detroit holds a seven point lead on Nashville for now. A Wings win would be a tough psychological blow to the Predators as they’ve been playing hard of late.

8:00 p.m.

Colorado @ Minnesota

And so they meet again. Last week saw the Wild edge the Avalanche 4-3 and the Wild will be hoping that home ice is good to them. These two teams have split their four games so far this season. The Wild have won six of their last eight games and have jumped three points ahead of the Avs in the standings. The Avs have lost six of their last seven games and are in the middle of a four game road swing. A win would give them a lift as they head to Nashville and Columbus after this game.

8:30 p.m.

Phoenix @ Dallas

It the Stars aren’t careful they’ll find their lead in the Pacific Division has totally disappeared after this game. The Coyotes are just two points behind Dallas in the division and the Stars are spiraling out of control of late losing five of their last six games. Phoenix has won their last two games heading into this one and the difference between these two of late is goaltending. Ilya Bryzgalov earned shutouts in their last two games while the combination of Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft has been poor.

9:30 p.m.

Ottawa @ Calgary

The Flames hope to keep the good times rolling against Ottawa. The Senators are hoping the Flames from the start of the season show up for this one as they look to snap their 10-game losing streak. With the Flames playing tough hockey of late that makes for a tall order for the Sens. With both Brian Elliott and Robin Lehner unable to make the stops they need to win, expect Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla to shine.

Chicago @ Edmonton

With the Blackhawks being frustrated and slipping back in the West, you’d think that facing the worst team in the conference would be the way to go. You’d be wrong though as the Oilers have done well against the Hawks this year going 2-1-0 with them. Luckily for Chicago this is the last time they’ll have to see the Oilers. The Oilers will be hoping that Devan Dubnyk stays hot after shutting out Nashville on Monday. If the Blackhawks can’t put their inner squabbles behind them against the West’s worst team, perhaps things in the Windy City aren’t as peachy when defending a title.

10:00 p.m.

Anaheim @ Vancouver

The Canucks roll through the West has been something else to watch. Their ability to play top-level hockey and not showing the mental breakdowns of the past has been impressive. They take a six game win streak into tonight’s game with Anaheim which sees the Ducks come in winners of three of their last four games. Curtis McElhinney will have to do his part to hold off the Canucks and if he wanted to show Ducks management why he should stick around instead of bringing in Ray Emery, stuffing Vancouver on their ice would do the trick.

Lonnie Cameron, hockey-tough linesman, shakes off puck to head (Video)

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Talking about hockey toughness is pretty much a trope at this point, yet there are still moments that impress even the cynical among us.

Linesman Lonnie Cameron accomplished that for many on Tuesday, as he returned to the Nashville Predators – Vancouver Canucks game despite taking a puck to the head in a scary moment.

Judging by the Twitter feed of Brooks Bratten from the Predators’ website, Cameron missed mere minutes of time.

So, yeah, it seems like Cameron qualifies as “hockey tough.”

As far as the game itself went, the Canucks beat the Predators 1-0 thanks to Henrik Sedin‘s goal (his 999th point) and Ryan Miller‘s 30-save shutout.

Is this more than just a slump for Henrik Lundqvist?

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People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.

Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”

Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:

Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.

Is this time different?

Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.

Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.

While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.

Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.

He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percenate in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).

Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.

In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:

Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?

The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.

Supporting cast rallies Blackhawks in win against Avalanche

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For much of the season, the Colorado Avalanche’s biggest names have let them down while many believe that the Chicago Blackhawks are getting it done despite a mediocre supporting cast.

On Tuesday, the script was essentially flipped. The Avs’ stars were productive, yet so were lesser-known Chicago forwards like Tanner Kero and Vinne Hinostroza.

The most important narrative stayed the same, however, as the Blackhawks found a way to get by the Avalanche in a 6-4 decision.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but the Avs put together one of their best stretches of this lousy season. Blake Comeau tied it up, Matt Nieto scored his first goal with Colorado and then Matt Duchene answered Chicago’s only goal of the second period (by Kero) to give the Avalanche a 4-3 edge.

The Avalanche doubled Chicago’s shots on goal in the second period, generating an 8-4 edge. It felt like a rare moment where Colorado’s talent actually flexed its collective muscles.

Then the Blackhawks turned it on in the third, generating a 12-5 shot edge of their own and finding a way to win.

Hinostroza ended up making the biggest difference, scoring the tying and game-winning goals before Kero iced it with an empty-netter thanks to an unselfish pass by Jonathan Toews.

(It’s not to say that Chicago’s big names outright slept through this game, either. Toews got that assist and Marian Hossa made a bunch of plays to help make life easier for Hinostroza and Kero.)

This wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks are doing enough to get points night after night. On some nights, that’s the real difference between a contender like Chicago and a languishing squad like Colorado.

Blue Jackets move back to first in Metro, NHL after beating Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7:  Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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After stumbling for a bit, Tuesday was a reassuring night for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus moved back to the top of the Metropolitan Division (and thus, the NHL) because they now match the Washington Capitals’ 64 points but have more wins (30 to 29) and hold a game in hand.

Also comforting for Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the Blue Jackets net, allowing one goal on 25 shots.

They were probably also happy to see Brandon Dubinsky enjoy a strong night (two goals) and Boone Jenner collect an assist and this absolute beauty of a goal:

The Hurricanes actually did hold a 1-0 lead in this game, but it lasted all of 11 seconds, as that Jenner goal erased that advantage.

The Blue Jackets face the Senators in Columbus on Thursday and then host the Hurricanes once again on Saturday. They follow that up with five straight road games and six of seven away from home beginning on Jan. 22. Columbus will pass another big test if they can stick with the Capitals and the rest of the NHL’s best through that stretch.