PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 07:  J.T. Brown #23 of the Tampa Bay Lightning is on the ice after a collision in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 7, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Lightning lose to Flyers, lose J.T. Brown to Wayne Simmonds hit


The Tampa Bay Lightning were facing a pretty huge game in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

They entered the day just three points back of the Flyers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (and two points back of Toronto for the third spot in the Atlantic Division) and had a chance to close some significant ground on a team they are chasing in the standings.

Things even got off to a strong start when a Nikita Kucherov goal gave them an early first period lead. Then everything kind of fell apart for them as they gave up three consecutive goals on their way to a rather lackluster 4-2 loss.

It was a particularly poor showing for the Lightning in a pretty important game that they not only failed to gain a point in, but were also badly outplayed for much of day.

Making matters worse is that they lost another forward to an injury when J.T. Brown had to leave the game in the third period following this hit from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Simmonds was not penalized on the play and Brown did not return to the game after the hit.

Since there was pretty clear contact with the head you can bet that it is already being reviewed by the NHL’s department of player safety. It is just a matter of whether or not the deem it to be worthy of discipline. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after the game that it was a “tough” hit and that what he says about it “doesn’t matter.”

If Brown can not play on Sunday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Final it would be another injury for a Tampa Bay team that has been crushed by injuries at different times this season. The team has been forced them to have three different players make their NHL debut over the past three weeks.

But what should be concerning about Saturday’s game isn’t just the fact that they lost, it is that they were outplayed against a team that had lost five in a row and seven out of eight, on a day where they really needed a win, with several of their top players back in the lineup. Yes, Steven Stamkos, Ben Bishop, and Brian Boyle were not there. But they still had Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Valtteri Filppula, Victor Hedman, and Anton Stralman in there. They should have been able to get more than they did out of that group.

With the loss the Lightning are now 19-18-4 on the season and are five points back of the Flyers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

They remain two points back of the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division, but the Maple Leafs can increase that lead on Saturday night with a win against Montreal while they will also still have two games in hand after Saturday.


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


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


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.