Pre-game reading: On last night’s mascot violence in Minnesota

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— Up top, Scott Gomez and Mike Milbury try to digest Carey Price‘s rough night in Minnesota. With the seven goals allowed, Price’s save percentage on the season fell to .922, and his save percentage in January now sits at .877.

— Did last night’s mascot violence in Minnesota go too far? For the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, the answer was a resounding yes. “My first thought when seeing the video — posted on the Wild’s official Twitter account that has more than 539,000 followers — was that I was glad I wasn’t in the stands with my 7-year-old son having to explain why his favorite mascot was just apparently beaten with a baseball bat.” (Chicago Tribune)

— A profile of Blue Jackets goal-scorer Cam Atkinson, whose lack of size (5-8, 182) isn’t such a problem in today’s faster NHL. “Obviously they’ll never take fighting out of (the NHL), but there’s not as much fighting. You don’t need those big fourth-line guys that all they do is fight now. You want fourth-line skilled guys too. The new age of hockey is my style and hopefully it continues.” (Canadian Press)

— There may be less fighting in the NHL, but that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park for superstars like Connor McDavid. That’s why the Oilers added the likes of Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, and Zack Kassian to their lineup. Said one scout to ESPN: “McDavid has gained confidence, knowing he’s protected — no doubt. If someone takes a run at him, there will be an answer. You still need those guys who bump and grind and are a presence in your lineup. He knows he’s covered. He knows he can go and go about his business.” (ESPN)

— Speaking of McDavid, it’s his 20th birthday today. To celebrate, Sportsnet put together a list of the 10 highest-scoring teenagers in the NHL since 1987. To nobody’s surprise, Sidney Crosby is No. 1. “After being picked first overall in 2005, Crosby burst onto the NHL scene with a 39-goal, 102-point season… Crosby got even better in his second season, winning the Art Ross and Hart Trophies with a 36-goal, 120-point season.” (Sportsnet)

— Is the “bye week” actually making players more tired? Because it was intended to do the exact opposite, argues Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “The combination of the World Cup and the mandated bye week has compressed the schedule like no year before. … The irony is that the bye week is supposed to make the players feel more refreshed and rested, but the side effects of it have had the opposite affect. Talk about your unintended consequences.” (The Hockey News)

Enjoy the games!

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision during Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

And … just like that, the Lightning tied things up. Wow.

Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

Video will be added when available.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.