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Riding the Zamboni – Tuesday, March 22

Nashville 3, Edmonton 1

The most impressive part of this game was the Predators did what they were supposed to do: win. Coming off an impressive win against the rival-Red Wings, a game against the NHL’s worst had the potential to be a letdown game. Points are at a premium this time of year and Nashville made sure they didn’t waste the opportunity to pick up the valuable two points. The Preds current four-game winning streak has vaulted the team into a tie for 5th place in the Western Conference with six of their last eight games at Bridgestone Arena. If Pekka Rinne and David Legwand can play like they did against the Oilers, they’ll be able to beat anybody.

Toronto 3, Minnesota 0

The Minnesota Wild are now 0-6-1 in their last 7 and at no point during the game against the Maple Leafs did they look like a team that was going to break through with a win. Michael Russo breaks down exactly how bad it’s been for the Wild as of late:

“Over this 7-game winless streak overall, the Wild’s been outscored 12-2 in the first period, has been outscored 32-9, has trailed by at least three goals in five games, has led for an embarrassing 12:39 of 424:26 and has given up the first goal in every game.”

On the other side of the spectrum, James Reimer continues to capture the imagination of Leafs Nation with his third shutout of the season. The 10th place Leafs are now 14-6-5 since the All-Star break and playing some of their best hockey in two years. They may be a long shot to make the playoffs this year, but the team is starting to show signs they may be competitive next season.

Colorado 5, Columbus 4 (SO)

Who cares if both teams are out of the playoff hunt? Whenever a team scores to take the lead with 3 minutes left and the opponent ties it up on the power play with 3.3 seconds left in the game, it’s an entertaining game. When the contest is settled in a shootout, then yes, the fans that showed up definitely got their money’s worth. Matt Duchene scored a pair of goals in the 3rd period for the home team, but it was Daniel Winnik’s goal with time running out that was the show stopper.

The Blue Jackets did their part to make the game entertaining as well. RJ Umberger and Derek MacKenzie both scored short-handed goals to give Columbus the lead. After blowing the lead in regulation, they threw everything but the kitchen sink at Avs goaltender Brian Elliott, but were unable to put any pucks past him. In the shootout, it was only more of the same.

Phoenix 2, St. Louis 1

In a game where just about every Western Conference fan was rooting for the St. Louis Blues, the Coyotes came from behind to win their 40th game of the season. The Coyotes started off slowly and were even booed by the home crowd in Glendale, but Ilya Bryzgalov was able to keep them in the game. The win pulled Phoenix to within a single point of the division lead (although the Sharks have two games in hand) and further solidified a playoff spot. They’ve ridden their recent 7-2-1 streak to 91 points for the year, which is currently good enough for 4th place in the tight Western Conference. The Coyotes didn’t play a great game, but the only thing that matters at this time of year is the win. They escaped with two points.

Sharks grind out win, make life difficult for Kings

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If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings meet again, it will be in the playoffs. If they do so, the Sharks will hold quite a bit of a recent edge.

They defeated them in the first round of the 2016 playoffs and won the 2016-17 season series with the Kings after beating L.A. in a tight 3-2 affair on Wednesday.

During a week where leads have been flimsy and goals came in flurries, this one started off pretty hot. The Sharks generated a 2-1 lead in the first period, and then the two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Joe Pavelski‘s goal ultimately standing as the game-winner.

The Sharks won after a scoreless third period, keeping them in a position to take back first place in the Pacific Division:

1. Ducks – 59 points in 47 games
2. Oilers – 57 in 47
3. Sharks – 56 in 45

San Jose has an opportunity to make up that ground with its games in hand. The Kings, on the other hand, see their margin of error for a wild card spot dwindling:

Second wild card spot: Kings, 48 points in 45 games

Canucks – 48 in 46
Predators – 47 in 44
Stars – 46 in 46
Jets – 46 in 48

The Sharks made life easier for themselves while making it tougher for the Kings. If that’s the end of their interactions for 2016-17, Sharks fans should be quite happy.

Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

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Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.

Pavelec makes highlight reel save, gets win in return to Jets’ net

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28:  Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets dives across to make a first period save against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Jets 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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With an expiring contract, Ondrej Pavelec’s time with the Winnipeg Jets is nearing an end. Plenty of Jets fans would say, mercifully.

Still, he did return to the Winnipeg Jets net on Wednesday for his first NHL appearance since April 9, 2016, to mostly successful results. The Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3, for one thing.

Beyond that, it probably felt like a typical Pavelec start for many Jets fans, though some would contest that it would also need to involve a loss.

There were those regrettable moments, like giving up a goal right away:

Even his critics would probably agree that Pavelec does have a knack for making breathtaking saves:

It’s unclear how many more times we’ll see Pavelec play for the Jets (or an NHL team in general). His performance – if given more chances – in the near future may determine that answer.

If nothing else, his 2016-17 debut felt pretty fitting.

Connor McDavid hits the 100-point mark, scores OT-winner (or did he?)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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PHT brings you the hard-hitting math, as you know, so here’s the latest burst: Connor McDavid is more than a point-per-game player.

You see, he scored the 100th point of his promising NHL career, and he did so in just his 92nd career game on Wednesday. Let us remind you that he’s just 20 years old (and he turned 20 on Jan. 13). Yeah.

Point 100 came on via an assist on a Zack Kassian goal as the Edmonton Oilers went up 1-0 against the Florida Panthers.

Here’s the clip:

Update: There’s debate regarding whether McDavid’s overtime-winner should have counted or not, but either way, it’s impressive that he generated a goal and an assist after hitting the 100-point mark. So it’s now 102 points in 92 games.

Here’s that contested goal: