Fighting for their playoff lives, the Dallas Stars were forced to hook starting goalie Kari Lehtonen after a second period implosion against Carolina on Thursday.
The ‘Canes scored three goals in a span of 4:35, building a commanding 3-0 lead and forcing Stars head coach Lindy Ruff to respond by hooking Lehtonen in favor of Tim Thomas.
Dallas began unraveling early in the middle frame, as Carolina captain Eric Staal scored his 19th of the season at the 2:30 mark. Ninety-seven seconds later, Justin Faulk scored on the power play to make it 2-0 and, less than three minutes after that, John-Michael Liles scored his second of the season to end Lehtonen’s night prematurely.
The Finnish netminder wasn’t the only Dallas player to experience a tough second period. Rookie defenseman Patrik Nemeth, playing in just his second NHL contest, took both penalties that Carolina converted — one for hooking, and one for delay of game after flipping the puck over the glass.
It’s worth noting that Dallas did respond to the goalie change, as Tyler Seguin scored his 34th goal of the season just a short while after Thomas entered.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand. Here’s how things look as of this writing, keeping in mind that the New York Rangers are currently in action against the Chicago Blackhawks:
1. Penguins – 37 points in 27 games played
2. Rangers – 37 points in 28 GP (currently 29th vs. Chicago)
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.