Vancouver GM: Keep running the Canucks, pay the price on the scoreboard

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Canucks general manager Mike Gillis kept banging the “we don’t need a tough guy” drum yesterday, telling the Vancouver Province that the team’s recent success is proof his philosophy is working.

The Canucks are 9-1-0 in their last 10, a stretch that’s seen their opponents try to rough them up Boston Bruins style.

“You can’t argue with the results,” he said. “We had very good results last season and we’re starting to do it again.

“There are some players who want to run around and hit guys from behind and that’s a league issue and it’s something the league is getting out of the game. If officials do their jobs, we will win games.”

But as the article’s author, Jason Botchford, points out, it’s hard to keep winning games when your players keep getting hurt. David Booth is out for an extended period after taking a knee-on-knee hit. Cody Hodgson is day-to-day after being run over Saturday.

Gillis seems to relish the fact that teams are running around against the Canucks, because it means more opportunities for the league’s best power play.

Unfortunately, a referee can’t do anything to bring Booth back.

It begs the question, is Vancouver at risk of winning a bunch of little battles at the cost of losing the war? After all, referees only have so much power. Ditto for the league. Say a marginal player takes out Henrik Sedin in Game 1 of a playoff series. Even if he gets a major penalty and receives a lengthy suspension, who wins that trade off?

But would that marginal player take out Henrik Sedin in the first place if he knew it would mean his team’s best player would be visiting the hospital next?

It may sound barbaric, but in hockey, the good guy doesn’t always win. Canada’s greatest international hockey victory was predicated on a brutal attack on its opponent’s best player. The game might’ve changed since 1972, but it’s not figure skating quite yet.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.