Josh Harding

Josh Harding is the NHL’s First Star of the Week

After winning all three of his starts and allowing just one goal in each, Minnesota Wild G Josh Harding has been named the NHL’s First Star of the Week. Harding stopped 35 of 36 shots in a 2-1 OT win over Detroit, 24 of 25 in a 5-1 win over Vancouver and 30 of 31 in a 3-1 over St. Louis.

Not a bad week, that.

By winning first star, Harding also further fired up the goaltending controversy started by head coach Mike Yeo, who has gone with Harding in each of Minnesota’s last four contests. While Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune says Niklas Backstrom “will almost certainly start” in Calgary on Tuesday, you have to wonder if that’s simply to rest the Wild’s new No. 1. Backstrom’s 33 and hasn’t achieved anywhere near the success (statistically speaking, anyway) he did in 2008-09, when he was nominated for the Vezina.

Second star of the week went to Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. The 26-year-old Swede registered 2G-4A-6PTS in two games — tallying three points each against the Avs and ‘Canes — and now leads all Stars in scoring with 15 points on the year.

[Random Loui Eriksson factoid: In 2003-04, he played with Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League as an 18-year-old. His teammates included 19-year old Alex Steen (now with St. Louis) and the Lundqvist twins, 21-year-olds Joel (formerly of the Stars) and Henrik (currently with the New York Rangers.) Not surprisingly, Frolunda was one of the best teams in Sweden that year.]

Third star of the week went to Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom, not to be confused with the Minnesota goaltender we just finished throwing under the bus. Backstrom also scored six points last week (3G-3A) but did it in three games. Backstrom now has 13 assists in 12 games and shares the league lead with Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Marc-Andre Bergeron.

(Cue the music for “One of these things is not like the other…”)

Stars, Rangers do their Caps – Pens impression in wild win for Dallas

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If you watched only Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers game and yesterday’s manic Washington Capitals contest, you might believe that you were transported to the days of the 1988 Smythe Division.

Just ask Justin Williams.

That Penguins – Capitals game ended with an 8-7 overtime victory for Pittsburgh, while tonight’s 7-6 win for the Stars against the Rangers wasn’t far behind.

All the goals

Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven goals, eventually giving way to Magnus Hellberg in the third period. It’s been a rough go of things lately for the future Hall of Famer, with tonight marking the low point.

The Stars opened up leads of 3-1 in the first period and 7-3 through the first two frames, but as you can guess from the score, the Rangers stormed back with three goals in a surprisingly tight third period.

Kari Lehtonen saved the day for the Stars, stopping 12 of 12 after taking over about halfway through the third for Antti Niemi.

Much like with the Penguins – Capitals clash, it was about more than just seeing a lot of goals.

More than just a high-scoring game

Cody Eakin and Chris Kreider were in the thick of things. Eakin scored his first goal of 2016-17, a 7-3 tally that absurdly ended up being the game-winner. Kreider began the Rangers’ rally with his 18th goal of the season, hit Eakin with his own helmet during a fight and created his typical brand of chaos.

As much as this might sting the Rangers, and as concerned as they may be about Lundqvist’s play, at least it looks like Ryan McDonagh avoided injury despite this scary fall:

OK, so these four teams dropped the gauntlet for wild games this week. Who’s going to carry the torch on Wednesday?

Report: Islanders granted permission to interview Gerard Gallant

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 29:  Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Gerard Gallant might not go long between head coaching gigs.

The New York Islanders have received permission to speak with Gallant, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Gallant was an assistant coach with the Islanders from 2007 to 2009, so there’s some familiarity there with GM Garth Snow (it was early on in his reign). Gallant was unceremoniously fired by the Florida Panthers in late November, with plenty of rumors circulating that he didn’t jive well with the franchise’s analytics-driven mindset. Gallant denied those claims, for whatever that’s worth.

(If such rumblings are true, perhaps Gallant would agree with the questionable logic of giving limited, but heavy-hitting forward Cal Clutterbuck a contract extension. That would be an interesting question to ask him during an interview, eh?)

Doug Weight is currently considered the Islanders interim head coach after the firing of Jack Capuano.

About the only bummer for everyone outside of Weight is that the Islanders already played their three games against the Panthers this season, so we’d have to wait until 2017-18 for whatever drama would come of that.

Robin Lehner’s furious anger seemingly directed at Sabres after being pulled

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Update: There’s now full video to get a better sense of Robin Lehner‘s behavior.

The Maple Leafs ended up beating the Sabres 4-3 after Buffalo made the game awfully interesting.

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Late last season, Ben Scrivens expressed relief in avoiding a fight with Robin Lehner, the Buffalo Sabres goalie he called “a bit of a psycho.” It sure seemed like the Sabres were the target of his frightening anger on Tuesday.

Lehner really didn’t seem too happy after being pulled from the game, whether that anger was directed at Dan Bylsma, his Sabres teammates or … everyone?

Watch him rage out after getting the hook following Toronto’s three-goal outburst in about nine minutes:

/Cowers in fear.

Onlookers seem to believe that the tension was real.

Raise your hand if you wouldn’t want to be around Lehner right now. Here’s the impressive Auston Matthews 3-2 goal that ended his night early:

Jared Spurgeon shows he has hands like a surgeon (Video)

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Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon has a pretty good knack for scoring goals, especially considering the fact that he doesn’t always take a ton of shots.

Maybe Bruce Boudreau should consider asking him to fire away a little more often.

You won’t see many prettier examples of hand-eye coordination than Spurgeon’s power-play goal from Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which gave the Wild a 1-0 lead. Watch it in the video above.

It’s almost impressive enough to justify rhyming his last name with surgeon. You know, theoretically.