Riding the Zamboni – February 12; Tampa wins in OT, Vancouver rolls over Calgary

Tampa Bay 4 – Carolina 3 (F/OT)

Usually when a team blows a two-goal lead in the last minute of the game, they crash and burn horribly in the end. The Lightning were able to avoid such embarrassment tonight when Marc-Andre Bergeron scored his first of the year in overtime to win it for Tampa Bay. Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole scored in the final minute of regulation to tie the game up with Tampa Bay, but Bergeron’s goal finished them off. Sean Bergenheim had a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves for the win. Cam Ward made 37 saves in the loss while Eric Staal and Erik Cole each had a goal and an assist.

Vancouver 4 – Calgary 2

It’s tough when you play a great game and still lose. When you’re dealing with a team as good as Vancouver, these things will happen now and again. For Calgary it stinks as it’s their second loss in a row. After coming into this game winners of eight of their last ten, it might be a bit of a knock to the psyche to lose after playing well. The Canucks got two goals a piece from Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Burrows to lead the way. Tim Jackman and Curtis Glencross scored for Calgary. For Vancouver they extend their lead in the division to 16 points over Minnesota with the win and have an NHL-high 81 points.

Nashville 5 – Colorado 3

In Music City, USA it was a night of a pair of intriguing appearances. Newly acquired Mike Fisher made his Preds debut and earned an assist after being acquired from Ottawa. It also had former Predator and Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg on the ice yet again. Much like in his first game, Forsberg had trouble finding the scoresheet. Forsberg finished the game a -2 and played 17:32 on a line with Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk. Martin Erat led the way for Nashville with a goal and two assists while Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand each had a goal and an assist. Pekka Rinne’s night was quite as he only made 15 saves in the win while Peter Budaj was hung out to dry being forced to make 34 saves. The loss marks the seventh in a row for Colorado as they slip back to 14th in the Western Conference.

Montreal 3 – Toronto 0

An Original Six clash in Montreal goes sour for the Leafs as Carey Price earned his sixth shutout of the season stopping 27 shots to get the win. Brian Gionta scored his 21st goal of the season while Benoit Pouliot and David Desharnais also tallied for the Habs as they snapped a three-game losing skid and got to within a point of Northeast Division leading Boston. Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 36 shots in the loss for Toronto as they lost their second in a row.

Phoenix 3 – Chicago 2 (F/SO)

Phoenix, like Tampa Bay earlier in the evening, avoided disaster by grabbing victory in the shootout after blowing a 2-0 lead against the Blackhawks in Phoenix. Radim Vrbata proved to be the hero on the night as he scored a goal in regulation and had the shootout winner for Phoenix. Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves for the Coyotes in regulation and didn’t allow Chicago to score in the skills competition. The win gets the Coyotes back to within one point of Dallas for the Pacific Division lead. Chicago’s comeback effort thanks to goals from Dave Bolland and Duncan Keith fell short but got steady play from Corey Crawford after a shaky first period. It wasn’t meant to be and the Hawks weren’t able to keep pace with L.A. and Minnesota in the West race.

Minnesota 3 – St. Louis 1

A feisty affair in the back end of a home-and-home series between these two saw the Wild chase Jaroslav Halak in the second period after the Wild jumped ahead 3-0 thanks to goals from Cal Clutterbuck, Antti Miettinen, and Kyle Brodziak. Patrik Berglund’s late second period goal was all the Blues could muster as the Wild got 24 saves out of Niklas Backstrom to earn the win and leapfrog Calgary into the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.

Backstrom provides OT winner as Capitals take 3-2 series lead

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The Washington Capitals are on the verge of the second round.

Yes, the Capitals, who began the series with back-to-back losses in Game 1 and 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, are now on the brink of eliminating Ohio’s team after Nicklas Backstrom‘s deft deflection in overtime gave the Capitals their third straight win and a 3-2 series lead.

It was the fourth time in the series both clubs played to a tie in regulation. After Columbus won the first two in OT, Washington replied with a win in double-overtime in Game 3 before Backstrom ended Game 5 at the 11:53 mark of the first frame of free hockey.

Backstrom scored his first goal of the series to open the scoring for the Caps and assisted for the sixth time in the series on the go-ahead goal in the second period before Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it in third.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Braden Holtby had to be sharp, especially in the third period as, inexplicably, the Caps were outshot 16-1. At home. Holtby made 40 saves when it was all said and done.

Two-hundred feet away, Sergei Bobrovsky was up to the task, making some silly stops including a big one on Alex Ovechkin earlier in overtime and a bigger one in regulation time off the same man’s stick.

Game 6 of this series is slated for Monday in Columbus, with a start time still to be determined.

In his post-game comments, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said, twice, that his team will be back in the capital for Game 7.

The promise has been made.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Kucherov, Vasilevskiy shine as Lightning eliminate Devils in 5

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One’s up for the Hart as the NHL’s best player while the other is up for the Vezina as the league’s top goaltender. Both combined their talents to eliminate the New Jersey Devils with a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday.

Nikita Kucherov was once again on point for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Saturday’s matinee. Leading 1-0 in the third period, Kucherov scored a clutch goal — his fifth of the series — to put the Lightning from just inside the blue line to put the Bolts up two with seven minutes and change remaining.

It proved vital, Kucherov’s goal, as the Devils attempted a late comeback with Kyle Palmieri scored with three minutes remaining after Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra attacker 30 seconds earlier.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall in the final 180 seconds, stopping 26-of-27 to help usher the Lightning into the second round.

Tampa, the Atlantic Division winners in the regular season, will face the winner of the series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, who play later on Saturday in Game 5. The Bruins lead the series 3-1.

Kucherov was as immense for the Lightning as he was oppressive for the Devils, adding five assists to bring his series total to 10 points. His usual scoring touch was supplemented by his play in the physical department, including this bone-crushing hit on New Jersey defenseman Sami Vatanen.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

For the Devils, it was hard-fought series from a young team still trying to find its way in the playoffs.

The Devils abandoned goalie Keith Kinkaid after dropping the first two games. Cory Schneider, who hadn’t won a game in 2018 before Game 3, came in and provided the spark in goal, one that seemed to get the Devils going at the other end of the rink as well as they rolled to a 5-3 win.

But that well ran dry in Game 4 as the Devils produced just one goal in a 3-1 loss. Game 5 was much the same, production-wise, with the Devils only managing one goal.

Fellow Hart Trophy candidate Taylor Hall provided two goals and six points in the series after a 93-point regular season. Rookie Nico Hischier managed just a goal after scoring 20 in his rookie campaign.

For Vasilevskiy, after looking far more human in the second half of the season, finding his mojo again can only be mean bad things for future playoff opponents.

The young Russian finished with a .941 save percentage in the series.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blue Jackets’ Matt Calvert scores a most unusual breakaway goal (Video)

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We’ve all see some breakaways go horribly, horribly wrong in the past.

Patrik Stefan reigns supreme here. Devin Setoguchi didn’t fare too well on this one. And then there was this gaffe by Dennis Wideman once upon a time.

But sometimes one screws up, only to rebound quickly and turn a near-blunder into a nice-ish goal.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert did that today, in what’s already being called the best/worst breakaway attempt of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As you can see in the video above, Calvert gets a nice clean breakaway. As he attempts to first a wrist shot, he whiffs on the attempt but manages to corral the puck back, doing the whole spin-o-rama thing, and deposit the puck past Braden Holtby for his second goal of the game.

Sometimes it just all works out.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Lightning, Bruins try to move on to Round 2

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Game 5: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 p.m. ET (Lightning lead series 3-1)
NBC/NBCSN*
Call: Gord Miller, Joe Micheletti
Series preview
Stream

Game 5: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals, 3 p.m. ET (Series tied 2-2)
NBC/NBCSN*
Call: Chris Cuthbert, Ray Ferraro
Series preview
Stream

Game 5: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET (Bruins lead series 3-1)
NBC
Call: Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire
Series preview
Stream

*Regionalized coverage – Florida markets and WNBC in New York metro area will air NJ-TB on NBC and CBJ-WSH on NBCSN; all other markets will receive CBJ-WSH on NBC and NJ-TB on NBCSN

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]