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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    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.

    Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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    Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

    The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

    Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

    With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

    They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.