Early ride on the Zamboni – Saturday, February 19th

Edmonton 5, Atlanta 3

If the game was only 41 minutes long, the Atlanta Thrashers would have taken their 3-1 victory with a huge smile on their faces. But hockey is 60 minutes and by the time the game was over the Thrashers were left wondering what the heck happened. Four penalties in the 3rd period, a natural hat trick from #1 overall pick Taylor Hall, and the Thrashers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The win was the 3rd straight for the Oilers as they continue to play better in recent games. Hey, even on nights when they don’t win, at least they’re entertaining. On the other hand, the Thrashers’ loss sees them drop to the .500 mark at 25-25-10. Not the best stretch of play for a team trying to find a new owner.

NY Islanders 3, Los Angeles 0

Former King Matt Moulson announced his presence with authority potting 2 goals en route to the Islanders’ 3-0 win on Long Island. Al Montoya looked like he was worth more than a 6th round pick as he earned his second career shutout with 35 saves. From Moulson and Montoya to Frans Nielson and Michael Grabner, the Islanders were in control of the game from the opening faceoff. They must have learned their lesson from their disastrous first period against the Bruins on Thursday night.

The Kings are now 8-1-3 in their last 12 games—this being their first loss in regulation 9 games into their longest road-trip in franchise history. They wrap-up the road trip against the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday.

New Jersey 4, Carolina 1

This was the third time the Canes and Devils faced off against one another in the last 12 days. And for the third time, it was the Devils skating away with the victory. But before you get down on the Canes, keep in mind the Devils are now 15-1-2 in their last 18 games, including their current 7 game winning streak.

If you want a reason to hammer the Hurricanes, look no further than the 1st period. Carolina came out flat in their 2nd game of a back-to-back, completely mailed in the first 20 minutes of the game, and were behind 3-0 before they knew what happened.

Patrick Elias had 3 assists, +3 rating for the night, and his 800th career point. Danius Zubrus had 2 goals and Ilya Kovalchuk extended his scoring streak to 10 games. Not bad for a team left for dead 2 months ago.

Florida 3, Tampa Bay 2 (SO)

Mike Santorelli poked in a rebound on the power play with 3:00 left and forced the game into overtime. Oh, but he wasn’t done yet. After a scoreless OT, Santorelli scored the only goal in the shootout to deliver the 3-2 win to the Panthers. It’s Mike Santorelli’s world, we’re just living in it.

Lightning are now 5-3-2 on their current homestand. The 5 wins are good, but for a team competing with the best of the best in the East, they were hoping for more on this season-long homestand. But look at the bright side, at least Steven Stamkos made it through the game without serious injury.

Ottawa 1 , Toronto 0 (SO)

It looks like the Craig Anderson era is off to a flying start. If he can manage to make 47 save shutouts against the Maple Leafs a regular occurence, they’ll be building him a statue outside Scotiabank Place in no time. 65 minutes of play and a shootout and the Maple Leafs are still trying to see a puck enter the net. Things weren’t much better for the Sens, but a shutout game-winner from Jason Spezza has a way of easing the pain.

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    The Buzzer: Night of the goalies

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    Players of the Night:

    Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning needed Vasilevskiy to play like the NHL All-Star that he is and that’s exactly what he gave them, stopping 40 shots to help the Lightning to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The win was important for Tampa, who regained the top spot in the NHL standings and ended a three-game slide in the process. Vasilevskiy’s league-leading seventh shutout of the season ties a franchise record.

    Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings: Mrazek fielded 37 shots from the New Jersey Devils on Monday night and handled each and every one of them for his second shutout in as many starts.

    Nick Cousins, Arizona Coyotes: Cousins got the ball rolling for the Desert Dogs in the first period, giving them a 1-0 lead. After the Islanders tied the game in the third, Cousins put the final stamp on the game with a goal 2:21 into overtime to give Arizona their second straight win.

    Comeback of the Night:

    Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild: Zucker got drilled in the head with a slap shot in the first period and had to be helped off the ice. Miraculously, Zucker returned a short time later and went on to score the game-winning goal at the 4:59 mark of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie in the Wild’s 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators.

    Highlights of the Night:

    Granlund and Dumba:

    Mrazek made plenty of saves on Monday and perhaps none better than this one (Brian Boyle‘s reaction is priceless):

    Ottawa Senators fans will like this, even if the end result wasn’t great:

    Auston Matthews had the celebration of the night:

    Factoids of the Night:

    Scores:

    Avalanche 4, Maple Leafs 2

    Red Wings 3, Devils 0

    Wild 3, Senators 1

    Lightning 2, Blackhawks 0

    Sabres 2, Flames 1 (OT)

    Coyotes 3, Islanders 2 (OT)


    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

    Lightning end three-game skid with 2-0 win over Blackhawks

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    Jon Cooper called declared that his team was “out of sync” prior to Monday night’s game in Chicago.

    It’s three words that haven’t been used at all this season to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning who, up until Sunday, was known as the best team in the NHL.

    The Lightning came into Monday night nursing a three-game losing streak, another foreign concept for a team saw four of its players elected to the NHL’s All-Star Game this coming weekend.

    But just as quickly as they dropped out of the top spot in the NHL — the Vegas Golden Knights assumed that throne for 24 hours after a win on Sunday night — the Lightning snatched it back in a 2-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Monday.

    For a team that perhaps forgot how to play with one another, they looked comfortable in each other’s company against the Blackhawks.

    The game was tight for the most part, and it took the Blackhawks being caught napping shorthanded to break a 0-0 deadlock late in the second period as Chris Kunitz took advantage of a defensive mishap. 

    Jake Dotchin’s wrister sailed wide, but Kunitz was allowed to waltz behind the net, pick up the loose puck and put it behind Jeff Glass, nearly untouched through the whole process.

    The NHL’s top goalie once again lived up to the distinction as Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside all 40 shots that came his way.

    The Blackhawks put up 10 or more shots in each of the game’s three periods, including 17 in the second frame. But the All-Star netminder played and exceptional game, including stopping 10 out of 10 on the power play to keep Chicago 0-for-6 on the power play.

    Yanni Gourde sealed the game late in the third with a blast to make it 2-0.

    It’s a win Tampa needed, especially after finding out they’ll miss forward Ondrej Palat indefinitely.

    The struggles continued for the Blackhawks, meanwhile.

    Chicago has now been shutout twice in their past three games and is on a three-game skid with a 4-5-1 record in their past 10.

    The Lightning could afford their losing streak. They’ve earned an opportunity to slide a little bit.

    For the Blackhawks, another loss means another chance missed trying to survive in a deeply competitive Central Division.

    The Blackhawks are hanging by a thread and time is running out quickly.


    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

    The Colorado Avalanche’s win streak hits double digits

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    The streak is now in double digits.

    The Colorado Avalanche won their 10th straight game on Monday night, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.

    Yes, that’s 10 wins by the team that ended last season with an NHL-worst 48 points.

    Hockey is wonderful, isn’t it?

    The Avalanche have been pretty darn good during that streak, outscoring opponents 41-16 during that span. Scoring four goals per game on average will win you more than it won’t.

    And the Avs have had success on the back end. Jonathan Bernier has been completely lights out during the streak. He is on a streak of his own with nine straight wins, becoming the third netminder in franchise history to win nine in a row after Stephane Fiset (9) and Patrick Roy (11).

    Colorado’s streak is also an NHL-best this season and it’s the second longest streak in Avs history (they won 12 straight during the 1998-99 season).

    The Avs are sitting on 57 points, good for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.


    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

    Jason Zucker takes a puck to the head (video)

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    How in the world did he get up?

    Too many players have been getting drilled in the head lately by slap shots. It’s an ugly site to behold whenever it happens

    Somehow, however, Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild was able to pop right back up and head directly to the dressing room. No passing GO on this one.

    The puck hit him so squarely in the helmet that it ricocheted back toward the Thomas Chabot, who uncorked the shot in the first place.

    Even more insane is that Zucker was able to return to the game.

    Talk about hard-headed.