Higgins highlights list of snakebit NHL forwards

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For Chris Higgins, it was pretty much the way things have been going so far this season…

That huge miss (and clutch save by Curtis McElhinney) Sunday in Columbus was Higgins’ 37th shot of the season. Only nine NHL forwards have more shots than that. And Higgins only has two goals.

Unfortunately for the Canucks, Higgins has company in the lots-of-shots-not-enough-goals category — teammate Daniel Sedin has 38 shots and just two goals; teammate Ryan Kesler has 39 shots and just three goals.

In a related story — and one that suggests there’s more than bad luck to this tale — here’s what Vancouver coach John Tortorella had to say after the 3-1 loss to the Blue Jackets: “Don’t let the shots fool you. I don’t think we played enough in the areas (you have to) to score goals. They’ll let you play on the outside all night long. For most of the minutes, that’s what we did.”

Other notables from around the NHL:

Phil Kessel (2 goals on 36 shots): Not quite as snakebit as he started last season, but almost.

Patrick Sharp (1 goal on 31 shots): Had a season-high six shots Saturday versus Toronto. Didn’t score.

Drew Stafford (1 goal on 30 shots): His shooting percentage was 17.3 when he scored 31 times in 2010-11. It’s 3.3 after 10 games this season.

Tomas Fleischmann (1 goal on 28 shots): And reportedly one of many Florida vets that general manager Dale Tallon is willing to trade.

Jamie Benn (1 goal on 26 shots): Has five assists in his last four games though.

David Perron (1 goal on 26 shots): Used up all his shooting luck in the preseason apparently.

Jarome Iginla and Matt Read (0 goals on 24 shots): Among NHL forwards, no one has more shots without a goal. Clarke MacArthur (23 shots) and Anze Kopitar (22) right behind them.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.