Henrik Lundqvist
AP

Milestone night: King Henrik backstops Rangers to shootout win over Devils

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NEW YORK (AP) Henrik Lundqvist came up big when the New York Rangers needed him and got a key milestone win.

Kevin Hayes scored the deciding goal in the shootout and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots through overtime and three more in the tiebreaker to help the Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Sunday night.

Lundqvist stopped Damon Severson in the fourth round of the shootout to secure the Rangers’ sixth win in seven games and second against the Devils at home in eight days. It also gave Lundqvist his 389th career win, tying him with Dominik Hasek for the most by a European-born goaltender.

“He was an inspiration to me growing up,” Lundqvist said about the feat. “He was the first guy I saw play paddle down. I grew up watching him, so this special for sure.”

Lundqvist has been stellar since serving as the backup to Antti Raanta, who started four straight games from Dec. 8-13. In three games since, Lundqvist is 3-0-0 with a 0.98 goals against average and a .967 save percentage. He also made several big stops on Sunday, which included two saves on New Jersey breakaways, to fend off the Devils.

“Hank is such a competitor. He works so hard,” Rangers center Derek Stepan said. “He’s an absolute workhorse – a great teammate. And I expected nothing less from him.”

New York coach Alain Vigneault isn’t surprised by Lundqvist’s recent play.

“This is the start of my fourth year. As soon as I got here, I knew his preparation and his work ethic in practice,” Vigneault said. “That’s why he was one of the best goaltenders in the league at that time, and he continues to be. He just works at his game, he’s really focused, and he’s a great person.”

Mats Zuccarello also scored in the shootout, and Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan had goals in regulation.

PA Parenteau and Miles Wood scored and Cory Schneider stopped 24 shots as the Devils lost their sixth straight. Michael Cammalleri had a shootout goal.

“Things are going to happen in hockey games,” Cammalleri said. “We aren’t hiding from the fact that we’re on a losing streak and we have to get out of it.”

Parenteau broke a scoreless tie early in the second with his seventh goal of the season and the Devils on the power play. Parenteau pushed a loose puck underneath Lundqvist and off the post, but the Rangers’ goalie inadvertently hit the puck into the net as he tried to cover it up.

The Rangers upped the pressure in the third and after several chances that were stopped by Schneider. New York finally found the back of the net as Mats Zuccarello quickly swung the puck from behind the net to Kreider, who tapped the puck in to even the score at 8:10.

The Devils quickly responded to recapture the lead with 9:28 left in the third. Adam Henrique forced Dan Girardi to turn over the puck behind the Rangers’ net, fought off two Rangers players and sent the puck to Wood, who got a quick shot off in front of the net to give the Devils the 2-1 lead.

However the Rangers kept pressing and tied it with 1:13 left in regulation as Stepan redirected the puck past Schneider.

“It’s not the result we wanted so that’s a little frustrating and disappointing,” Schneider said. “I thought our defending was good here against a really offensive team, but again at the end of the day it’s the two points that matter.”

Sunday was the final time the Devils will play at Madison Square Garden this season and the loss extended their struggles away from Prudential Center. New Jersey is now 4-11-5 on the road and looking snap their six game skid.

Red Wings rally by Bruins in another game that evokes the Eighties

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Things looked pretty grim for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins chased Jared Coreau from the net with a quick 3-0 lead. Maybe the Red Wings took note that this has been a weird, high-scoring week in the NHL, because they rallied back and eventually won 6-5 via a shootout.

To recap the zaniest games of each day from this odd few days of hockey:

Monday: The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 8-7 in an overtime thriller.

Tuesday: The Dallas Stars managed to hold off the New York Rangers in a 7-6 victory. Plenty of weird things happened beyond all of those goals.

Wednesday: Red Wings storm back from that 3-0 deficit to eventually win.

Games like these can be a nightmare for coaches and goalies on both sides, yet Claude Julien was probably especially steamed by this one.

The Bruins were up 3-0, 4-1 and 5-4 but the Red Wings kept fighting back. As a defensive-minded coach, Julien couldn’t have been happy with his team’s play.

(That’s the coach’s answer to slamming a video game controller in a frustrating loss.)

Fitting in with this week’s other wilder contests, there were flurries of goals even beyond the trio that quickly gave Coreau the boot. The Red Wings warped a 4-1 Bruins lead to a 4-4 tie with three goals in a little more than 10 minutes of time.

Adam McQuaid then regained Boston’s lead 21 seconds after it was tied, but the Red Wings didn’t give up. Instead, they applied a ton of pressure in the third period until Gustav Nyquist tied it up with about three minutes left.

Detroit still has a long way to go to protect its remarkable playoff streak, especially when teams like the Bruins can at least salvage “charity points” with losses. If the Red Wings want to make an unlikely push, they’ll need to show the kind of resolve that was on display on yet another wild night in the NHL.

Pavelec makes highlight reel save, gets win in return to Jets’ net

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28:  Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets dives across to make a first period save against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Jets 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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With an expiring contract, Ondrej Pavelec’s time with the Winnipeg Jets is nearing an end. Plenty of Jets fans would say, mercifully.

Still, he did return to the Winnipeg Jets net on Wednesday for his first NHL appearance since April 9, 2016, to mostly successful results. The Jets beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3, for one thing.

Beyond that, it probably felt like a typical Pavelec start for many Jets fans, though some would contest that it would also need to involve a loss.

There were those regrettable moments, like giving up a goal right away:

Even his critics would probably agree that Pavelec does have a knack for making breathtaking saves:

It’s unclear how many more times we’ll see Pavelec play for the Jets (or an NHL team in general). His performance – if given more chances – in the near future may determine that answer.

If nothing else, his 2016-17 debut felt pretty fitting.

Connor McDavid hits the 100-point mark, scores OT-winner (or did he?)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 08: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center on December 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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PHT brings you the hard-hitting math, as you know, so here’s the latest burst: Connor McDavid is more than a point-per-game player.

You see, he scored the 100th point of his promising NHL career, and he did so in just his 92nd career game on Wednesday. Let us remind you that he’s just 20 years old (and he turned 20 on Jan. 13). Yeah.

Point 100 came on via an assist on a Zack Kassian goal as the Edmonton Oilers went up 1-0 against the Florida Panthers.

Here’s the clip:

Update: There’s debate regarding whether McDavid’s overtime-winner should have counted or not, but either way, it’s impressive that he generated a goal and an assist after hitting the 100-point mark. So it’s now 102 points in 92 games.

Here’s that contested goal:

 

Video: This assist helps explain why Red Wings might not trade Vanek

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In the video above, you can see Bob McKenzie lay out the Detroit Red Wings’ status as the trade deadline begins to look like more of a consideration.

Considering their playoff streak, it’s not that shocking that they’re at least struggling with the idea of being sellers. More than a few people probably did a double-take (or spit-take?) when McKenzie noted that management might opt to re-sign forward/remarkable reclamation project Thomas Vanek instead of moving him for assets.

It’s reasonable to question that logic, but then you see what he’s doing lately, particularly the chemistry he seems to be building with Andreas Athanasiou.

Wednesday’s gorgeous assist to Athanasiou illustrates some of that brilliance, if stats bore you:

If stats tell some of the story, well, they’re impressive. Vanek now has a seven-game point streak with the assist; if he doesn’t score another point, he’ll have 10 points during that span. He also has at least a point in 11 of his last 12 contests.

Athanasiou’s really “feeling it” lately, too. If he stays at a goal tonight, he’ll have five goals and eight points in his last seven games, only failing to generate a point in two of those contests. His speed and skill really seem to be coming to the surface, a great sign for the 22-year-old.

Still, Vanek is 32, and the Red Wings would need a heck of a run to even make the playoffs. So that’s where the discussion gets a little sticky.

There’s still time to sort that out, though. In the meantime, fans should enjoy what those two have been accomplishing, even if many want the window to close on that combo soon.