Andrew Ladd, Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Phoenix beats Winnipeg in battle for Jet supremacy

Players and coaches will tell you that no game is more important than any other. Fans—well, “fan” is short for “fanatic.” There’s no doubt that fans on both sides of the equation wanted to win the Jets/Coyotes game in Phoenix on Saturday night. Plenty was made about the new Jets flying down to the desert for their first game against the Phoenix Coyotes. With all of the drama between the fanbases, bragging rights were on the line.

Round 1 went to the Coyotes by a score of 4-1; and it was decided with a quick KO 34 seconds into the game.

Daymond Langkow buried a shot past Chris Mason before fans even had a chance to get comfortable in their seats. Defensive super prospect Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the next two goals of the game to give Phoenix a 3-0 lead before Andrew Ladd was able to end the shutout bid with 19 seconds left in the 2nd period. Ray Whitney iced the game with about 13 minutes left in the 3rd period to send the Phoenix faithful home happy.

Dave Tippett knew it would be a different atmosphere at home and it would be important to get off to a strong start at home:

“There’s a lot made with the situation from the past, with the situation that we were supposed to move, to them getting a team, the hoopla about their team there. Ultimately, when the puck dropped, I was very proud of our guys.

“We wanted to get off to a great start; I think we did that. Scoring on the first shift certainly helps gets our crowd in the game and helps dissolve some of the emotion coming from the Winnipeg fans.”

Aside from the win, another positive from the game was the attendance. Not only was it an over capacity sellout, it was estimated that it was 80-85% Coyotes fans in the stands. For people who were afraid that Winnipeggers were going to take over Jobing.com Arena, the Coyotes fans came out in force for the home opener.

The Coyotes did their part to make sure the fans had a good time once they got there.

The Coyotes are now 2-1-1 after getting blasted by the Sharks on opening night. Mike Smith is showing signs of being the goaltender that Coyotes management thought he could be, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is continuing to develop into a very good defenseman, and Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan are continuing to do what they do.

Sooner or later, we’ll stop being surprised when the Coyotes string wins together.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.