Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa,  Patrick Kane

Marian Hossa scores OT winner as Blackhawks earn big win against Red Wings

Marian Hossa was all over the ice, but one must wonder if he was kicking himself after possibly releasing a slap shot too soon when he found himself alone against Joey MacDonald earlier in tonight’s game. The talented two-way Chicago Blackhawks forward made no mistake about it during his team’s overtime 4-on-3 power play, though, as he roofed a puck over the Detroit Red Wings goalie to earn his team a crucial two points.

Chicago 3, Detroit 2 (OT)

Just about every major element of this Chicago team came to play Monday. Hossa put seven shots on goal and also provided an assist to complete a great all-around night. Jonathan Toews was all over the place as he scored a goal and created plenty of opportunities. Patrick Kane provided two assists and also put seven shots on goal in this game while Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook (one goal) also made big plays for their team.

Corey Crawford was sturdy for the Blackhawks, earning his 30th win of the season by stopping 33 out of 35 shots. You cannot place the blame on stand-in goalie MacDonald, though, as he was outstanding in making 38 out of 41 saves in a losing effort. The fact that MacDonald is putting up outstanding individual numbers (92.8 save percentage coming into tonight’s game) makes his 5-4-3 record very misleading.

The Red Wings’ efforts might be overshadowed by the turmoil brewed by the first controversial hit by Todd Bertuzzi in ages, but they made the Blackhawks sweat in a game that was much bigger for Chicago. Nicklas Lidstrom became the first 40-year old defenseman to cross the 60-point barrier with a goal while Henrik Zetterberg earned Detroit a charity point with a power-play marker. Brian Rafalski also had two helpers.

What this win means for Chicago:

This win places Chicago in seventh place with 90 points in 75 games played, although the Anaheim Ducks could regain that spot if they beat the Colorado Avalanche tonight (the Avs have an early 2-0 lead in Monday’s only other game). Even if they don’t hold onto the seventh spot tonight, Chicago has a game in hand on Anaheim, as the Ducks enter Monday’s game with 89 points in 75 games played.

Before they get preoccupied with seeding, the Blackhawks must retain a spot in the top eight. They now have a three-point lead over the ninth-place Calgary Flames (87 points in 77 GP) and a four-point cushion against the more-dangerous 10th-ranked Dallas Stars (86 points in 74 GP). Chicago currently holds some tie-breaker advantages against the Flames and Stars, so they likely will only need to worry about standings points against both teams.

The silver lining for the Red Wings:

The Red Wings aren’t happy to lose to their division rivals, especially since they would play against Chicago if the playoffs began right now. That being said, the charity point they earned gives them a one-point edge over the San Jose Sharks for the West’s second seed. Both teams have six games left, so time will tell as far which team will be ranked second.

This was a heated and fast-paced game, but the Blackhawks cannot bask in the glow of the victory since they play the Northeast Division-leading Bruins in Boston tomorrow. They also must prepare for two more doses of Detroit, as they finish their season with a home-and-home series against the Red Wings.

For more analysis of a tough end of the season for the defending Stanley Cup champions from Chicago, click here.

Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.