Riding the Zamboni – Thursday, February 23rd

Buffalo 4, Atlanta 1

In a battle between a team with a new owner vs. a team looking for an owner, it was Buffalo who came out victorious. The Terry Pegula era started just about as well as Sabres fans dreamed as the home team skated away with the 4-1 win. Two goals by Paul Gaustad and Jason Pominville 30 seconds apart was all Buffalo really needed. The loss was the Thrashers’ fourth in a row and dropped them to 10th in the Eastern Conference; Atlanta only has 6 wins in their last 26 games.

Ottawa 5, Florida 1

The Sens had lost 10 straight at home going into the game—but those were games without Craig Anderson. Another stellar performance and a scoring explosion Sens fans haven’t seen in a while lead to an absolute route. Bobby Butler potted a couple and the defense was a solid as it’s been in about a month.

Worse than just the loss in the standings, newly acquired forward Jack Skille went down with a high-ankle sprain and is expected to be out of the line-up for an extended period of time. When it rains, it pours.

When we look back at this game in a month or two, it will probably be in terms of draft positioning. But for a night, all is right in Ottawa. Since the Sens have won two straight, can we call it a streak?

San Jose 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)

There was a lengthy 20 minute delay before the 2nd period started as they couldn’t get the lights to turn back on at the CONSOL Energy Center; but not even a power problem could slow down the surging Sharks. After their 3-2 OT victory in Pittsburgh, they have now won 5 straight and are 14-2-1 in their last 17 games.

It was the first game in a Penguins uniform for James Neal and Matt Niskanen. After Logan Couture missed a shot at an empty net, Tyler Kennedy put in a rebound with 50 seconds left to force OT. It looked like there could be a storybook ending—until Patrick Marleau banged home a rebound with 5 seconds left in the overtime period.

Tampa Bay 8, Phoenix 3

With all due respect to the Sharks and Pens, this was the night’s marquee match-up. The key word in that sentence is “was” (as in past tense). The Lightning blew the doors open early as they dropped a 5 spot on the Coyotes before the 1st period was over. Maybe it was the back-up goaltender in net and maybe it was the back-to-back games against the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, but the game never was in doubt. Teddy Purcell kicked off the scoring 2 minutes into the game en route to a hat trick. Vinny Lecavalier had 4 assists and 5 points. Hey, if a team is going to blow an 8-game winning streak, at least they did it in style.

Edmonton 5, Colorado 1

We knew it would be tough for the Avs to bring the same kind of intensity after an emotional, come-from-behind victory against the Blues. Back-to-backs are tough, but even tougher when the teams just made a blockbuster trade and there are storylines all over the place. Yes, the Oilers may be playing better lately, but losing 5-1 at home is not the sign of a team that came ready to play. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Tom Gilbert all had multi-point games as the Oilers scored early and often.

We should have expected a high scoring game when the two worst defensive teams in the league (in terms of GA/G) took the ice. At least one team followed through.

Los Angeles 3, Anaheim 2

Going into the game, the Ducks had given up 7, 5, and 9 goals in their last three games. On the other hand, the Kings were shutout in their last game against the Islanders—so something had to give. Split the difference and the Kings scored three goals en route to their victory to cap off their franchise-long road trip (in which they finished 6-1-3). The win for the Kings was fueled by a game-winning goal from one of the most unlikely sources: shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell. On the other hand, the Ducks lost for the fourth straight game and fell out of a playoff spot for the first time in two months. They gave a great effort with both Saku Koivu and Ryan Getzlaf out for the game—but at this point in the season, they need wins. Thankfully for Ducks fans, both players should be back for their next game.

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    Ducks’ Perry being evaluated at hospital for lower body injury

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    The injury woes for the Anaheim Ducks continued on Monday night.

    On the same night they got Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg back in the lineup, they lost forward Corey Perry to some sort of a lower body injury.

    Perry exited the game after playing just 3:49 in the first period.

    After the game Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said that Perry is being evaluated at a local hospital for the injury and that there was no other update at this time.

    According to Ducks beat writer Eric Stephens of the OC Register Perry did not suffer a skate cut.

    In 31 games this season Perry has scored six goals to go with 16 assists for the Ducks. The Ducks have been absolutely crushed by injuries this season, a development that has no doubt played a major role in their slow start.

    The Ducks were 3-2 winners on Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The Buzzer: Bernier shines for Avs, Rangers waste Pavelec’s great night

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    Player Of The Night: Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche

    After losing six out of their past seven games the Colorado Avalanche finally got back into the win column on Saturday night by crushing the Florida Panthers. They followed up that performance by marching into Pittsburgh and stealing two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 2-1 win that was highlighted by a stellar showing from starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

    Bernier was the Avalanche’s best player on Monday night, turning aside 39 of the 40 shots he faced.

    It was not until the final 11 seconds, when the Avalanche were already holding a two-goal lead, that he finally surrendered a goal.

    It was probably Bernier’s best performance of the season and just the fifth time in 12 starts that he managed a save percentage higher than .900 in a game.

    Wasted Effort Of The Night: The New York Rangers

    Maybe “wasted” is too strong of a word considering the Rangers did get a point out of the night in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars, but let’s be honest be here. They did not even deserve that.

    The Rangers were thoroughly dominated by the Stars and only managed to get the game to overtime thanks to a stellar performance from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

    Pavelec stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced and almost single handedly got the Rangers to overtime.

    After the game Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had this to say about the game: “There are two positives, Pavs played unreal and because of his performance we were able to get a point. Other than that….we weren’t good.”

    That was it.

    Ducks Get Some Help Back In The Lineup

    The Anaheim Ducks got some much needed help back in their lineup on Monday night when Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg both returned to the lineup.

    Silfverberg made an immediate impact after missing the past five games. He scored his sixth goal of the season in the Ducks’ 3-2 win.

    Getzlaf did not factor into the scoring, but having him back in the lineup was still a huge lift for the Ducks. He played 20 minutes in the win.

    Highlight Of The Night

    The Winnipeg Jets have an outstanding offense. It was on display here with some nifty tic-tac-toe passing to take the lead against the Vancouver Canucks.

    Factoid Of The Night

    Brock Boeser scored another goal for the Canucks in their loss to the Winnipeg Jets. He is having a tremendous rookie season.

    Scores

    New York Islanders 3, Washington Capitals 1

    Dallas Stars 2, New York Rangers 1

    Colorado Avalanche 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1

    Florida Panthers 2, Detroit Red Wings 1

    Winnipeg Jets 5, Vancouver Canucks 1

    Anaheim Ducks 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    The Panthers and Red Wings had a fight night (Videos)

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    The Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings seemed to be in a fighting mood on Monday night, dropping the gloves three times in the first two periods of their game in the Motor City.

    Things started early in the first period when Red Wings tough-guy Luke Witkowski, playing in his first game back since serving a 10-game suspension, dropped the gloves with Michael Haley of the Panthers.

    Have a look…

    The two would square off once again in the second period.

    Not long after the Witkowski-Haley rematch, Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Red Wings forward Luke Glendenning took part in a rather vicious fight that left Glendenning bloodied on his way to the penalty box.

    Given Ekblad’s history of concussions the Panthers can’t exactly be thrilled to see him taking part in a fight like that.

    Ekblad is not much of a fighter, with Monday’s fight being just the third of his NHL career. It is, oddly enough, his second fight of the season with the first one also coming against the Red Wings.

    Back in October he fought Justin Abdelkader.

    Big centers back: Getzlaf in for Ducks, Panthers regain Barkov

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    The Anaheim Ducks would probably qualify as unlucky so far in 2017-18 even beyond an extremely unfortunate bounce of a puck fracturing Ryan Getzlaf‘s cheekbone.

    That loss was especially severe with Ryan Kesler already recovering, as Getzlaf missed 19 games, last appearing in a contest on that painful night of Oct. 29. The Ducks get quite the treat, then, as both Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are slated to return as they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Check out how much better everything fits together with the returns of Getzlaf and Silfverberg, not to mention the recent addition of Adam Henrique (line combos via the Ducks website):

    Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry
    Cogliano-Henrique-Silfverberg
    Blandisi-Vermette-Kase
    Wagner-Grant-Shaw

    The Ducks are still without Kesler, and Patrick Eaves is fighting a serious physical battle that puts hockey on the backburner, so there’s still some mystery to how the Ducks might look if they can get anywhere near full-strength this season.

    As is, they look a whole lot better going into Monday’s game, something the Florida Panthers could relate to.

    While Anaheim’s dealt with bad luck, you could chalk up Florida’s troubles to a mix of unforced errors (jettisoning depth, particularly to Vegas) and tough breaks of their own (Roberto Luongo‘s injury issues). Either way, management will look infinitely smarter when Aleksander Barkov is in the lineup than when he’s not, so the Panthers must be happy to welcome him back tonight.

    Interestingly, Left Wing Lock lists Barkov along with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, rather than Denis Malgin taking Bjugstad’s spot (Malgin received looks, at least, once Evgenii Dadonov suffered an injury).

    That would be quite the top-heavy approach for Florida, even if Malgin can mesh well with Vincent Trocheck.

    While the Panthers have floundered at times, the Ducks seemed like they were finally starting to crater under the pressure of all those injury losses, as Anaheim only boasts two wins (2-4-4) in its last 10 games.

    It’s true that the return of Barkov and Getzlaf would be important in just about any context for their teams, but each team likely feels especially relieved on Monday, as they can use all the help they can get.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.