The Columbus Blue Jackets took the lead twice on Sunday, but fell victim to a five-goal barrage from the Edmonton Oilers in the second period. To the surprise of no one, the Blue Jackets, who have only won twice all season when trailing after 40 minutes, ended up losing 6-3. As a result, Columbus now has the kind of peace of mind that no other team in the NHL has obtained. They know that their remaining games can’t help or hurt them from a rankings perspective, because no matter what they do, they will finish the season with the worst record in the league.
Of course, Edmonton won’t fare much better in 2011-12, but it’s games like this one that give them hope for the future. Even without 2010 first overall pick Taylor Hall available, the Oilers’ youth still played a prominent role in this victory. Calder Trophy contender Ryan Nugent-Hopkins registered two assists and sophomore breakout Jordan Eberle did just as well. 25-year-old rookie Chris VandeVelde netted his first NHL goal while Sam Gagner, who is still just 22, set a new career-high with his 17th goal of the campaign.
Gagner is of course best known for his four-goal, eight-point game on Feb. 2 and the hot streak to follow. While he’s fallen back to Earth since then, he has heated up lately with two goals and four points in his last four games.
The highlight of the game from Columbus’ perspective was probably Rick Nash scoring on a penalty shot which, at the time, game them a 2-1 lead. You can view his goal and the other game highlights below.
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Of course, if you’re a Blue Jackets fan, seeing Nash have a good game has to give you mixed feelings. Nash was looking to be dealt before the trade deadline and rather than hope to build a team around him, Columbus is probably just looking to squeeze as much as they can out of a Nash trade over the summer. But hey, at least the Blue Jackets are in a great position going into the draft lottery.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.