Big Ben: Pouliot scores twice as Rangers beat Pens in shootout


Benoit Pouliot didn’t have a banner start to 2013-14 but, on Friday night, he showed his game was on the rise.

Pouliot registered his first multi-goal game of the season — and first in a Rangers jersey — as New York went into the Olympic break on a high, defeating Pittsburgh 4-3 in a shootout at Consol Energy Center.

Pouliot opened the scoring just 1:04 into the game, then gave the Blueshirts a 3-2 lead midway through the third period, his 11th goal of the year. But Pittsburgh’s James Neal scored with less than three minutes remaining — his 20th of the season — to send it to the extra frame, where both teams went scoreless and headed to the shootout.

Mats Zuccarello and Brad Richards scored in the skills competition for New York, while Evgeni Malkin replied for the Penguins.

The real story on the night, though, was Pouliot, who came to the Rangers this summer on a one-year, $1.3 million deal but has been a disappointment at times, especially early on. The 27-year-old had his lack of consistency called out by head coach Alain Vigneault and was parked as a healthy scratch in December after going 18 games without a goal.

But since then, the former fourth overall pick (2005 NHL Entry Draft) has shown signs of life.

Pouliot responded to the scratch with a seven-game point streak and had nine points in 12 games during the month of December, then notched seven more in 15 games over January. Tonight was probably his finest game of the season — with the two markers, he how has 11 goals and 23 points and appears primed to beat his career-high of 32 points, set with the Bruins during the 2011-12 campaign.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.