Phil Kessel

PHT’s Morning Skate: Phil Kessel’s impressive journey

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Patrick Kane’s return to right wing might have been the biggest story going into Friday night’s game against the New York Islanders, and he seemed comfortable for sure with two assists. Still, his running mate Jonathan Toews stole the show, with a goal and an assist plus a shootout tally. (CSN Chicago.)

Former Avs blue chips Chris Stewart (one assist) and Kevin Shattenkirk (power-play goal) drew a measure of revenge against their former team, but Colorado won – thanks in large part to Ryan O’Reilly. (Denver Post.)

Sure, the Blues failed in the shootout, but that game would’ve been finished in overtime if Jaroslav Halak didn’t make this deft swipe:

One thought that keeps recurring lately is how people don’t seem to appreciate all that Phil Kessel has gone through to become a league-leading scorer. Lukas Hardonk takes a look at his journey from testicular cancer to red-hot sniper. (The Hockey Writers.)

Brad Richards is enjoying single life in New York, which must have something to do with Olivia Munn, right? (Tampa Bay Online.)

Matt Beleskey’s hit on Sean Couturier might just draw the attention of the Shanahammer, but we’ll see. (Eric Stephens.)

Ryan Jones didn’t just register his first multiple goal game last night; he actually pulled off a hat trick. (NHL.com.)

Jones wasn’t the only unlikely guy to score one more than once in that Edmonton Oilers-Columbus Blue Jackets game, though. Derek Dorsett managed two tallies of his one, including this highlight reel piece.

Check out the NHL’s three stars of comedy via Sean McIndoe of “Down Goes Brown.” (Grantland.)

Final thought: if there’s one thing that is driving me nuts, it’s the confusion over the Detroit Red Wings’ streaky play. It’s not a coincidence. Instead, it’s a matter of their schedule. They’re winning when they’re at home (10-2-1) and average on the road (6-5-0). The few diverging points come when they play weak opponents away from Joe Louis Arena, although winning the Thanksgiving Showdown in Boston ranks as a promising break from that trend. (Red Wings schedule.)

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.