Nashville Predators goalie Rinne blocks shot from Vancouver Canucks Sedin during their NHL hockey game in Vancouver

Riding the Zamboni – Thursday, March 3

Edmonton 4, Columbus 2

The Edmonton Oilers might not be a very good team in the standings, but they sure can be fun to watch. When they’re on their game, they show tons of potential for the future and play an exciting brand of hockey. Lead by Taylor Hall’s Gordie Howe hat trick, the Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead, chased Jackets’ goaltender Steve Mason, and held on for the win. They may be reduced to the spoiler role—but they’re playing it well. Unfortunately, they may be doing it without Hall pending the results of his MRI on Friday.

The Blue Jackets came into Edmonton needing points if they wanted to keep pace in the playoff hunt. Inexplicitly, they came out flat and never really deserved to win a game they could have used. Jackets coach Scott Arniel summed it up best:

“We didn’t come to compete. We didn’t win many one-on-one battles, our power-play (0-of-5) stunk. We did a lot of ugly things tonight, really out of character of what we’ve been doing the last month and a half.”

Nashville 3, Vancouver 0

The two best defenses in the Western Conference got together and through 40 minutes no one could score a goal. But in the 3rd period, the Predators broke loose, scored three unanswered, and beat the best team in the league in their own barn. Blake Geoffrion scored his 2nd career goal two minutes into the final period which proved to be enough. Patrick Hornqvist had a sweet goal and an empty netter sealed the deal. The game had the look and feel of a playoff game with the two teams playing such a tight brand of hockey. No doubt it’s a good sign for fans in Nashville that the Preds were able to go into a hostile environment and play their style of game.

San Jose 3, Detroit 1

Wasn’t it only a few months ago that people were wondering what was wrong with the San Jose Sharks? Those complaints seem like a distant memory nowadays. With their exciting win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Sharks have now won eight straight and are leading the hotly contested Pacific Division. Over the stretch, the Sharks are only giving up 1.63 goals per game. Of course, when Dany Heatley scores a pair of goals and Patrick Marleau has a goal and an assist, it’s a little easier to win a few.

Detroit finished their 3-games-in-4-nights California stretch with a 1-1-1 record. Joey MacDonald gave his team a chance to win, but the Wings simply couldn’t score enough to earn the win. There’s a reason why back-to-backs are so difficult for NHL teams.

Los Angeles 1, Phoenix 0

The Kings and Coyotes gave fans at Staples Center a taste of what playoff hockey will look like next month. Both teams had to fight for every inch of ice until the Kings were able to take advantage of a power play to score the only goal of the game. If you like low-scoring games that are heavily influenced by special teams, then this was right up your alley.

With the win, Los Angeles is 12-2-3 in their last 17 games. Jonathan Bernier earned his 2nd shutout of the year. They started the game in 8th place; one Jarret Stoll goal later and the Kings are in 5th place. If they lost, they would have been in 9th. Needless to say, the Dustin Penner era is off to a pretty good start.

Who says the playoffs don’t start until April?

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    Video: Kings, Kopitar exploit Edler’s gaffe for OT win vs. Canucks

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    Alexander Edler probably feels some serious shame right now.

    The Vancouver Canucks defenseman is getting some heat for a bad blunder on what became the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime game-winning goal by Anze Kopitar.

    You can see the decisive goal in the video above, which meant a 2-1 overtime victory for the Kings over the Canucks.

    Just a (safe for work) sampling of the reactions toward Edler:

    Again, those are the more … sanitized reactions.

    Jacob Markstrom didn’t get the win despite keeping Vancouver in the game. The big Swede made 38 out of 40 saves, yet that last goal will burn.

    For Los Angeles, it’s another reminder that this team sure is scrappy.

    Let’s be honest: it’s better to go late into a game with a lead against the Kings, but a small margin makes for some serious discomfort.

    Malkin, Kessel dominate as Pens stump Sharks

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    Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.

    Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?

    Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see below.

    Malkin scored a goal and two assists while Phil Kessel found the net twice in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

    Malkin now has a four-game goal streak going (five goals, three assists). He also has 13 points in his past seven games.

    Marc-Andre Fleury deserves plenty of credit, too, as he stopped 33 out of 34 shots and continues to quietly generate some of the best work of his sometimes-polarizing career.

    This was a nice way for the Penguins to begin a four-game Western road trip, although they’ll need to wait a while to try to keep it going; their next game comes in Los Angeles on Saturday.

    Of course: Ryan Suter wins it for Wild vs. ‘Hawks after those wild quotes

    NBCSN screen

    You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”

    Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.

    Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.

    Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?

    As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).

    Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.

    Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.

    It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.

    Hey look: Flyers reel off three straight wins for first time in 2015-16

    Sean Couturier
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    When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.

    The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.

    Joy abounded.

    Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.

    Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.

    If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.