Devin Setoguchi

Setoguchi’s hat trick puts Detroit on brink of elimination; Sharks win 4-3 in overtime

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It’s cliché to say that it’s not a series until the home team loses a game. Tonight, the home standing Red Wings lost to the Sharks 4-3 in overtime and it might just be the game that puts a virtual end to the series as the Sharks now lead the best of seven series 3-0.

The hero of tonight’s game was very nearly the goat for San Jose. Devin Setoguchi finished tonight’s game with a hat trick including the game-winning goal in overtime. What nearly made him fall out of favor with Sharks fans was a penalty he took earlier in overtime for holding. While the Wings threatened on the man advantage, they wouldn’t score a goal.

Instead, play turned the other way and it started with an exhausted Joe Thornton spinning and wheeling a pass to Setoguchi who was fresh off the bench and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Howard and into the net to end the game. The win is the third one-goal win over the Red Wings this series and the fifth overtime victory of the playoffs for the Sharks. They’re now 5-0 in overtime games. So much for not being a clutch team.

The Red Wings found themselves getting into familiar jams. Their penalty kill was once again not good as the Sharks scored twice on the power play, including getting the first goal of the game on the man advantage. The Wings having to start off from behind is tough but Nicklas Lidstrom would get a power play goal of his own late in the first period to tie it.

From there, the Wings would twice gain the lead only to give it back eventually as a Patrick Eaves goal in the second at 13:59 was quickly followed by Setoguchi’s second power play goal of the game 50 seconds later. Pavel Datsyuk would score a power play goal later in the second still to give Detroit a 3-2 lead but that too wouldn’t hold up.

In the third period the Wings would hang on to that lead until Dan Boyle scored with just over four minutes to play to force overtime. There, Antti Niemi again played huge finishing the game with 38 saves and keeping the Wings out of the net. Jimmy Howard’s 34 save performance was solid but just not good enough yet again when Setoguchi ended the game at 9:21 of overtime.

At this point in the series, it just makes sense to say that the Sharks are flat out better than Detroit. A 3-0 series lead certainly dictates that thought, but coming up big in overtime and getting such tremendous play from the likes of Setoguchi and Joe Thornton (three assists tonight) both offensively and defensively is making life easier on the Sharks. Who knew that having your big stars stepping up and playing big all together would work out.

For Detroit, they’re not playing terribly. Their PK could obviously use improvement, as could their discipline in taking penalties. The rest of their game is solid though, they just have not been as good as the Sharks have been.

Lonnie Cameron, hockey-tough linesman, shakes off puck to head (Video)

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Talking about hockey toughness is pretty much a trope at this point, yet there are still moments that impress even the cynical among us.

Linesman Lonnie Cameron accomplished that for many on Tuesday, as he returned to the Nashville Predators – Vancouver Canucks game despite taking a puck to the head in a scary moment.

Judging by the Twitter feed of Brooks Bratten from the Predators’ website, Cameron missed mere minutes of time.

So, yeah, it seems like Cameron qualifies as “hockey tough.”

As far as the game itself went, the Canucks beat the Predators 1-0 thanks to Henrik Sedin‘s goal (his 999th point) and Ryan Miller‘s 30-save shutout.

Is this more than just a slump for Henrik Lundqvist?

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People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.

Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.

“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”

Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:

Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.

Is this time different?

Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.

Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.

While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.

Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.

He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percentage in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).

Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.

In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:

Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?

The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.

Supporting cast rallies Blackhawks in win against Avalanche

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For much of the season, the Colorado Avalanche’s biggest names have let them down while many believe that the Chicago Blackhawks are getting it done despite a mediocre supporting cast.

On Tuesday, the script was essentially flipped. The Avs’ stars were productive, yet so were lesser-known Chicago forwards like Tanner Kero and Vinne Hinostroza.

The most important narrative stayed the same, however, as the Blackhawks found a way to get by the Avalanche in a 6-4 decision.

The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but the Avs put together one of their best stretches of this lousy season. Blake Comeau tied it up, Matt Nieto scored his first goal with Colorado and then Matt Duchene answered Chicago’s only goal of the second period (by Kero) to give the Avalanche a 4-3 edge.

The Avalanche doubled Chicago’s shots on goal in the second period, generating an 8-4 edge. It felt like a rare moment where Colorado’s talent actually flexed its collective muscles.

Then the Blackhawks turned it on in the third, generating a 12-5 shot edge of their own and finding a way to win.

Hinostroza ended up making the biggest difference, scoring the tying and game-winning goals before Kero iced it with an empty-netter thanks to an unselfish pass by Jonathan Toews.

(It’s not to say that Chicago’s big names outright slept through this game, either. Toews got that assist and Marian Hossa made a bunch of plays to help make life easier for Hinostroza and Kero.)

This wasn’t always pretty, but the Blackhawks are doing enough to get points night after night. On some nights, that’s the real difference between a contender like Chicago and a languishing squad like Colorado.

Blue Jackets move back to first in Metro, NHL after beating Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 7:  Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the New York Rangers on January 7, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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After stumbling for a bit, Tuesday was a reassuring night for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

With a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus moved back to the top of the Metropolitan Division (and thus, the NHL) because they now match the Washington Capitals’ 64 points but have more wins (30 to 29) and hold a game in hand.

Also comforting for Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the Blue Jackets net, allowing one goal on 25 shots.

They were probably also happy to see Brandon Dubinsky enjoy a strong night (two goals) and Boone Jenner collect an assist and this absolute beauty of a goal:

The Hurricanes actually did hold a 1-0 lead in this game, but it lasted all of 11 seconds, as that Jenner goal erased that advantage.

The Blue Jackets face the Senators in Columbus on Thursday and then host the Hurricanes once again on Saturday. They follow that up with five straight road games and six of seven away from home beginning on Jan. 22. Columbus will pass another big test if they can stick with the Capitals and the rest of the NHL’s best through that stretch.