—Auston Matthews is all set to play his first NHL game in his hometown of Arizona, and his childhood rink is ready for his return. If ever you visit Arcadia Ice Arena, you’ll quickly realize that Matthews once played there. During a trip to the rink last summer, an arena worker made him sign the Zamboni. (Sportsnet)
–Union College senior Mike Vecchione is having at terrific season. He’s the leader in most offensive categories in NCAA Division I hockey this season and he’s hoping that his success will lead to him having a solid NHL career one day. “I’ve grown up playing hockey every single day of my life, and it’s the one thing that i truly love. I hope it’s going to take me a long way in life, but at the end of the day it’s gonna be that degree I’m going to have to fall back on. If I’m lucky I can play so many years in professional hockey, but one day it’s gonna come to an end.” (Sports Illustrated)
–Calgary Flames coaches recount some of their Christmas memories from when they were kids. Each one of them remembered asking for some kind of hockey-related gift instead of regular toys. Martin Gelinas remembers getting a table hockey game, Jordan Sigalet got his first painted mask and Glen Gulutzan recalls getting his first hockey net. (CalgaryFlames.com)
–Caps forward Alex Ovechkin skated with 50 youth hockey players from the Fort Dupont Cannons Ice Hockey Club, which is the oldest youth minority hockey program in North America. Founder and coach Neal Henderson had this to say about the experience: “Kids get a great kick out of working with him. They get on a friendly basis with him. I tell them all, ‘This is how the pros get started.’ Hockey players are different from a lot of other sports. They’ll put their skates on and come over to the rink and skate with the guys. Very seldom do you see a basketball player go to a park and start working with kids.” (NHL)
–Lightning forward J.T. Brown and his wife are helping with the “Guide the Thunder” hockey program, which gives kids who wouldn’t normally be able to play hockey a chance to skate every Monday night. Ice time for the kids is dependent on their grades and behavior. If they aren’t pulling their weight, they won’t skate. “We want to use hockey as a means to teach life lessons to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have those kinds of opportunities,” said Jay Feaster, who’s now in charge of the Lightning’s community outreach programs. (ESPN)
–Because of the broken collarbone he suffered last season, Connor McDavid only hit the 80-game mark of his career this season. How do his numbers stack up against some other NHL superstars over the last 20 years? Take a look:
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”