Columbus Blue Jackets v Ottawa Senators

If you saw this coming, you’re a liar: Ottawa wins sixth straight


Six games ago, the Ottawa Senators were a 1-5 hockey team. Loss No. 5 was a 7-2 blowout to the Philadelphia Flyers, a defeat so bad the players called an emergency meeting afterward. The Senators were allowing an average of five goals per game and considered to be one of the worst teams in hockey.

But that was six games ago.

Tonight, the Senators won their sixth consecutive game — a 3-2 decision over Toronto — in the Battle of Ontario. What’s more, they did it without the services of their captain (Daniel Alfredsson, out with an upper-body injury) and their third-string goalie (Robin Lehner) in net. The winning goal was scored by Kaspars Daugavins, a 23-year-old Latvian with four games of big league experience. If was his first NHL goal.

To quote legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi: What the hell’s going on out here?

At the time of writing, the Senators are the hottest team in hockey (we’ll see what happens tomorrow when the San Jose Sharks take their five-game winning streak to MSG.) They’ve got the NHL’s best power play. They’re one point out of the Northeast divison lead and an improbable eight points up on Boston, the defending Stanley Cup champion. Jason Spezza is one of the league’s top scorers and Erik Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen in points.

Guess that’s what a six-game winning streak will do for you.

Of course, this winning streak has to be kept in perspective. Ottawa’s competition hasn’t exactly been lethal — the streak includes victories over Columbus, Winnipeg, Carolina, Florida and New York — which is probably why head coach Paul MacLean is trying to keep things in perspective. “Let’s see where we are after 20 games, after 25 games,” he told the Globe and Mail today. “It’s a long season.”

But hey, doesn’t mean people can’t get a little excited at the possibility of the Sens being, you know, good at the hockey. Even Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen got caught up in the thrill of it all. “The Boys of October roll into a new month carting a six-gamer against the Stanley Cup champions in Boston on Tuesday,” he wrote. “Who knew a rebuild could be this much fun?”

Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

Frank Vatrano David Krejci
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The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

Here’s his first goal of the night:

While this is his overtime game-winner:

It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.