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.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.