Riding the Zamboni – March 11; Isles stun Bruins, Devils win again, Ducks roll

New Jersey 3 – Atlanta 2 (F/OT)

Another typically tight game and another win for the Devils. Travis Zajac scored twice including the game-winner in overtime while Ilya Kovalchuk added another goal to help the Devils stay hot. All three Devils goals came on the power play as the Thrashers PK could not get it done tonight. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves to get the win. Dustin Byfuglien scored his 20th goal of the year for Atlanta while Ondrej Pavelec stopped 27 shots in the loss. While the Devils win was good for them and keeps them eight back of the Rangers and Sabres for eighth in the East, giving up the loser point to Atlanta in overtime won’t help them in their hopes of vaulting up the standings.

NY Islanders 4 – Boston 2

The Bruins started off nicely building a 2-0 lead and seemed poised to cruise to victory. Matt Moulson’s goal with two seconds left in the second period to make it 2-1 changed all that as the Isles came storming out in the third with goals from Michael Grabner and Jack Hillen to take a 3-2 lead. P.A. Parenteau would be awarded a goal in the closing seconds as he was hauled down while breaking towards the empty net to provide the final tally of the game. Al Montoya was solid stopping 26 shots in the win. Nathan Horton scored his 20th for Boston while Zdeno Chara scored his 12th. Tim Thomas was obscenely busy in the loss stopping 38 shots.

Detroit 2 – Edmonton 1 (F/OT)

It appeared that the Oilers were set to head to a 1-0 win in Detroit on Ryan Jones’ goal as the seemingly disinterested Wings were going to fall by the wayside. As can happen sometimes in Detroit, the Wings rallied late as Nick Lidstrom’s shot bounced off Andrew Cogliano’s skate and past Devan Dubnyk to tie the game with 25 seconds left in regulation. In overtime, Pavel Datsyuk did what he does best, dangling and avoiding Liam Reddox and sniping a shot past Dubnyk to win it. Dubnyk stopped 42 shots in the loss for Edmonton while Jimmy Howard stopped 26 in the win for the Wings.

Washington 2 – Carolina 1

Ottawa 2 – Tampa Bay 1

A frustrating loss for the Lightning as former temporary member of the Lightning Curtis McElhinney stopped 34 shots to lead Ottawa to victory. Jason Spezza and Bobby Butler scored for the Senators as they continue to sink their efforts of landing the top pick in the draft with some outstanding and scrappy play of late. Martin St. Louis had Tampa’s lone goal while Dwayne Roloson stopped just 20 shots in the loss. Tampa Bay is now four points behind Washington in the race for the Southeast Division crown.

Anaheim 6 – Colorado 2

Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists while Teemu Selanne and Luca Sbisa each had two assists to help the Ducks win their fifth game in their last six. Dan Ellis stopped 24 shots in the win. For Colorado, the loss is their 17th in their last 18 games. Colorado who at one point this year was leading the Northwest Division now sits 37 points behind front-running Vancouver thanks to their horrible play in 2011. The Avalanche’s attempts to squeeze their way into the #1 pick are improving by the day.

Los Angeles 4 – Columbus 2

While Jonathan Toews is getting plenty of headlines, L.A.’s Anze Kopitar is doing some work lately of his own and tonight he added to it scoring a hat trick for the Kings as they kept life miserable of late for the Jackets. Steve Mason had another rough night in goal as Mason stopped just 18 shots in the loss. Jonathan Bernier was the opposite of Mason in stopping 32 shots. Derick Brassard and Scottie Upshall scored for Columbus.

Dallas 4 – Minnesota 0

Is this the end of the road for the Wild? Kari Lehtonen managed to get his first shutout as a Dallas Star and had to stop just 14 shots to earn it. Jamie Benn scored a goal making it six straight games he’s had a goal in. He’s got 19 goals on the year now in what’s turning out to be a breakout season for him. For the Wild, it’s two straight games they’ve been shutout in now and they’ve only totaled 33 shots in those two games. With a road trip to San Jose and Vancouver up next for the Wild and sitting four points out of  a playoff spot in the tightly contested West, we think we can hear the Fat Lady warming up off stage for Minnesota.

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

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When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

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.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

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BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

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Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

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.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson