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Riding the Zamboni – March 2; Ducks get OT penalty shot victory, Chicago wins sixth in a row

Anaheim 2 – Detroit 1 (F/OT)

A tightly officiated game was decided in the rarest of ways as Bobby Ryan’s overtime penalty shot goal put the Ducks over the Red Wings. Ruslan Salei was busted for hauling Ryan down on a breakaway and the mistake cost his team the game. Some may debate how legit of a trip it was, but Salei’s error helped keep the Ducks in the running out west. Detroit will kick themselves for going 1-9 on the power play in this game. Pavel Datsyuk’s 20th goal of the season was the Wings sole offense while Jason Blake tied the game up early in the third with his 12th goal. Dan Ellis was stellar in goal stopping 28 shots for the win. Jimmy Howard stopped 26 in the loss.

New Jersey 2 – Tampa Bay 1

The Devils continue to lurk in the East as they try to comeback from an epic hole in the standings to make the playoffs and it’s Ilya Kovalchuk that’s helping lead the charge. Kovalchuk’s 22nd goal of the year midway through the third period put the Devils ahead 2-1 where Martin Brodeur would hold down the fort making just 15 saves on the game to earn the win. The Lightning jumped ahead in the first on Dominic Moore’s power play goal, his 11th of the year, but Henrik Tallinder tied it up in the second with his fourth goal of the year. The win puts New Jersey nine points behind Carolina for the eighth spot in the East. The problem for them is that the teams between them and Carolina also are winning as well. The next seven games for New Jersey look very advantageous for them to keep rolling along though. Buckle up.

Toronto 3 – Pittsburgh 2 (F/OT)

NY Islanders 4 – Minnesota 1

It was a game the Wild sorely needed and they came out as flat as it gets. Blake Comeau scored twice for the Islanders, the second of which came 41 seconds into the second period chasing Wild starter Niklas Backstrom from the game after making it 3-0. Jose Theodore would relieve him and give up one more goal to Andrew MacDonald to make it 4-0. All in all the Islanders peppered Wild goalies with 41 shots on the night to earn the win. John Madden’s 10th goal of the year midway through the third period spoiled the shutout chance for Al Montoya who finished with 33 saves and the win for New York.

Chicago 6 – Calgary 4

Make it six in a row for Chicago as they once again rode Jonathan Toews coattails to victory. Toews scored two goals while Michal Frolik had a goal and two assists to lead the Hawks to victory. Rene Bourque tried to keep Calgary in it scoring two goals of his own, but the Blackhawks were able to rise to fourth in the Western Conference with the win. Just two weeks ago, Chicago was sitting outside of the playoffs and now they’re in a position to have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago was able to chase Miikka Kiprusoff from the game on the heels of him pitching two straight shutouts against St. Louis. With how things are going in the West this year, these two could be destined for a first round match-up in the playoffs.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.