Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four

Nathan Horton returns to the ice for first time since Cup final concussion

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It’s been 112 days since Nathan Horton lay motionless on the TD Garden ice during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final. Since then the Bruins came roaring back to win their first Cup in 39 years, the Stanley Cup has toured the globe with the B’s, and Horton has slowly but surely recovered from his severe concussion. Sunday night’s preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens provided Horton his first opportunity to get back on the ice and find out exactly where his recovery stood. If his game against the Habs is any indication, Horton will be just fine when the Bruins open up their season against the Flyers on October 6.

Nathan Horton admitted there were butterflies flowing before the Bruins “home” game in Halifax:

“I was a little nervous coming in, just from what happened. I was just trying not to think too much — just work hard and do the little things. I didn’t feel too bad, to tell you the truth. It felt a little bit different being on the ice, but it felt OK.”

Maybe he should feel nervous more often. Horton posted two assists in the third period and looked good overall as the Bruins laid the hammer on the Canadiens to the tune of 7-3. Putting up points in one thing—but showing that he could withstand the physical part of the game was just as important as any goals or assists. Joe Haggerty from CSN New England shared his thoughts as Horton took the ice for the first time since the brutal hit that ended his season in the Cup Finals last year:

“Good first test run for Nathan Horton tonight. Got a few bumps and bruises, but didn’t seem hesitant or jumpy with the puck at all. Horton also looked very good with Seguin skating on the line with him both in practice and in tonight’s game.”

To say Horton’s line with Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron looked good all night would be an incredible understatement. Then again, when a team drops a touchdown and wins by four goals, it’s safe to say that just about the entire team looked good. Still, it was an important first step for a guy who the Bruins will depend upon this season for scoring and physical play this season. For an organization that is still coming to grips with Marc Savard’s questionable future, any positive news on the concussion front should be greeted with cheers of optimism.

Remember, this isn’t that will be satisfied with another playoff appearance or a series win. If the Bruins want to repeat their success from the 2010-11 season, they’ll need all of their horses playing at the top of the game. Horton’s first game back showed that he’s well on his way to making a quick and relatively speedy recovery.

For anyone who saw the hit he took last June, his return is encouraging news in the aftermath of a very scary incident. Here’s to hoping we see more players recover and return from their concussions in the near future.

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: