Tuukka Rask

Early Ride on the Zamboni – Tuesday, March 8th

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Tonight is a busy one in the NHL, with nine games and 18 teams in action. To try to keep you up to date, we have summaries of the earlier games in this post. We’ll keep you informed of the two latest games later on.

Philadelphia 4, Edmonton 1

After being embarrassed by the Rangers during the NBC Game of the Week, the Flyers took their rage out on the lowly Oilers in this one. Philly raced to a 3-0 lead by the second period, as Jeff Carter scored two goals and Daniel Briere had a goal and an assist. This win maintains their two-point lead against the Penguins for the Atlantic Division title.

NY Islanders 4, Toronto 3 (OT)

Earlier this season, this would have been a game between two irrelevant teams. Now it’s a match between two semi-relevant squads who almost certainly won’t cross the finish line in the East’s top eight. Either way, the Isles like winning for a change, as Blake Comeau won it for the Long Island bunch in OT.

Ottawa 2, New Jersey 1

Speaking of teams who might regret their winning ways, the Senators are riding the increased net competence provided by Craig Anderson (no shock) to a nice run. Erik Condra (no, not the super sweet video game Contra) scored two goals to give the Devils a rare regulation loss. Anderson set aside 31 out of 32 shots for the win.

Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 1

After going 92 games without a goal, Zbynek Michalek finally found the net for the Penguins. (To be fair, some of those games came with Phoenix.) James Neal and Mark Letestu also found the twine for the hard-working Pens, who remain two points behind Philly while the Sabres are now only one point ahead of the ninth-place Hurricanes with zero games in hand.

Montreal 4, Boston 1

The Canadiens earned their scoreboard-based revenge on the Bruins in a game that will be overshadowed by Zdeno Chara’s controversial hit on Max Pacioretty. Lars Eller scored the game’s first two goals while Carey Price made 30 saves to lead the Habs to their fifth straight win. They remain three points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast.

Florida 3, Chicago 2

Somewhere (probably in a luxury suite/box), Dale Tallon must have been smiling. His new team beat his former team as Tomas Vokoun stopped 37 shots to help the Panthers best the Blackhawks. The Panthers charged out to a 3-0 lead and then held on to win.

Minnesota 5, Colorado 2

The Wild pulled themselves to within one point of the West’s top eight with this win. After moving into a 2-2 tie heading into the third period, John Madden scored the game winner while Jared Spurgeon added an insurance tally. Kyle Brodziak also notched an empty-netter as the team came up big in the final frame of a game they needed to win.

Forsberg’s hat trick, own-goal highlights Predators’ wild OT loss to Flames

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If you want to summarize the kind of night the Nashville Predators experienced, you could do worse than to draw parallels to Filip Forsberg‘s experiences.

The highs were quite high, you see. Forsberg & Co. carved away at the Calgary Flames’ 4-1 lead as his hat trick (see above) eventually gave the Predators a fleeting 5-4 edge.

We all should have seen more drama coming … and it did. Forsberg ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time in overtime; the Flames’ 6-5 overtime winner ended up going off of his foot. Ouch.

Mark Giordano ended up being credited with that goal. The game was just a barn-burner.

While it was an up-and-down night for both the Flames and Predators, Pekka Rinne‘s evening was pretty much uniformly dismal.

Rinne was pulled early in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots, making way for Juuse Saros (who actually ended up gtting tagged with the loss).

The Flames can breathe a sigh of relief after winning the game despite coughing up a big lead, improving to 64 points and strengthening their grip on the second wild card spot. That “charity point” comes in handy for Nashville, leaving the Predators with 59 points and a game in hand on the Flames.

Matthews, Leafs get last laugh in OT vs. Laine and the Jets

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Hockey fans tend to get their radars up about over-hyping things, particularly promising rookies.

Is it hasty, then, to wonder if there’s something to a rivalry between Auston Matthews (and the Maple Leafs) vs. Patrik Laine (plus the Jets)? If nothing else, the two have come up big in two very exciting games.

Back in October, Laine generated a hat trick as the Jets beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. This time around, it was another 5-4 overtime decision … only Matthews and the Maple Leafs took this round.

This isn’t to take anything away from Laine’s performance, mind you. He scored two goals on Tuesday, becoming the rare modern rookie to muster 30 goals. He reminded hockey fans that he only needs the smallest window to make you pay with his deadly, world-class shot.

But Matthews wouldn’t be denied, either, and fittingly did so in a quieter fashion. (Virtually everyone seems a little quieter when Laine’s around, it seems.)

The Maple Leafs’ outstanding rookie managed three assists in this game, giving him 52 points in 59 games. He also has six points in a three-game run and eight in his past five.

Laine? He now has 54 points in 55 games, extending is own point streak to five games (seven goals, three assists).

In other words, it’s really close … just like the games when these two budding stars (and their young, promising teammates) meet.

You might even be tempted to believe the hype.

Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

ST PAUL, MN - MAY 6: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Zach Parise #11 and Jason Pominville #29 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

Central Division title chase

1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

Also, tonight marked a nice milestone for Joel Quenneville:

Price didn’t just play for Habs; he made the difference vs. Rangers

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It’s one thing for Carey Price to shake off that Paul Byron shot in warm-ups. And, honestly, that bump from Shea Weber during the game. But to play like, well, Carey Price? That would be something else.

Well, you probably saw this one coming … but Price had some absolutely great moments against the New York Rangers in an eventual 3-2 shootout win.

He was the main difference-maker, although it must be said that there’s some comic relief in Byron scoring the shootout-winner.

Price vs. Rick Nash felt like a subplot of the overall story.

On one occasion, Price made a resounding stop on a Nash breakaway:

It was quite the night for the aging power forward, however, as he nailed his other opportunity.

Some might be a little sad that Nash vs. Price didn’t go against each other in the shootout, but hey, maybe the two teams could save that for next time?

The Canadiens needed this win more than the Rangers. The Ottawa Senators actually briefly went ahead for first place in the Atlantic Division, but now Montreal has 72 points to Ottawa’s 70 … while the Sens hold two games in hand.

Similar tweets might end up being relevant, however. Though betting against Price is also a dicey proposition.