Los Angeles Kings v Columbus Blue Jackets

There’s hope in Columbus as Jackets prepare for 1,000th game

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Tonight in Columbus, the red-hot Blue Jackets will play regular-season game No. 1,000 when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.

As you can see below (via hockeyDB.com), it hasn’t been easy for Jackets fans since the club entered the NHL at the turn of the millennium.

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And that one playoff appearance? Yeah, they were swept by the Red Wings.

But things are looking decidedly up for the Jackets. A seven-game winning streak, a franchise record, has catapulted them into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, led by their Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, as well as blue-chip youngsters Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner, and veterans (but not old) Nathan Horton, RJ Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, and James Wisniewski.

A stocked cupboard of prospects is another reason to be excited about the future.

“We’re on a roll, but we’re not where we want to be,” Horton said after the Jackets’ latest victory, an impressive 5-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. “We want to get back in the playoffs and stay there. We needed a winning streak; now we need to keep the thing going.”

That “roll” has been no fluke either. After struggling for much of the season to win the possession battle, the following chart (via Extra Skater) shows the difference in their recent play:

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Granted, besides Los Angeles, the Jackets haven’t exactly been rolling over the NHL’s elite. And it should be noted the Kings were playing their second game in two nights, and fourth of a tough road trip. A big test for Columbus will come before the Olympic break with a visit to California to play the Kings, Ducks and Sharks.

For now, though, let the good times roll.

“You don’t want to get caught up in it, but it shows the direction the club’s going,” said Umberger. “There have been some bad moments here. But we’ve got a lot more in us. We’re not satisfied.”

Kopitar dominates with a hat trick to help Kings defeat Rangers in OT

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Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.

All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.

“It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

“Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”

L.A. maintain an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.

The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.

Video: P.K. Subban tossed after on-ice outburst toward officials

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P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.

Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.

Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.

The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.

 

Video: Doan ties Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history

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Shane Doan on Friday scored his 20th goal of the season, and tied a historical mark for the initial Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise in the process.

Doan scored in the first period against the Calgary Flames, tying him with Dale Hawerchuk for most points in Jets/Coyotes history with 929.

Now 39 years old, Doan has spent his entire career with that organization, playing one season in Winnipeg before the organization moved to Phoenix.

He also joined another impressive list, too.

Leafs’ Corrado returns to Vancouver with a chip on his shoulder

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Just as the Vancouver Canucks are once again struggling through injuries and with their depth on defense a constant question mark, Frank Corrado returns to town with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s a quick visit. The Leafs and Canucks do battle on Saturday, with the hosts wearing their famous ‘Flying Skate’ logo from the 1990s.

But the return of Corrado with a different team provides a juicy storyline in Vancouver.

The Canucks waived the 22-year-old defenseman in October.

He was claimed by the Leafs, which ended his time in Vancouver when it previously started with promise and optimism.

He quickly ascended as a prospect after being selected in the fifth round five years ago. But when training camp rolled around this season, Canucks GM Jim Benning was of the belief that Corrado had been passed in the depth chart by a few other defensemen in the system.

The move has been criticized in Vancouver because the Canucks lost an asset — a 22-year-old right-shooting defenseman with potential — for nothing.

Corrado had some interesting things to say about how his time in Vancouver eventually played out, as per Josh Clipperton of the Canadian Press.

Two examples:

Corrado has played 10 games for the Leafs this season, with three assists. He made his Leafs debut more than two months after being claimed.