Andrew Shaw

Associated Press

Barzal, Tavares shine as Islanders edge Canadiens 5-4 in overtime

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The scary thing about Mathew Barzal is that he may just be gaining steam.

Any time the New York Islanders play these days, it turns into Barzal Watch (in the Twitter world: #BarzalWatch). Even if the Islanders had plummeted as of late with five losses in their past six games heading into Monday, many are just tuning in to see what the dynamic rookie is going to do.

Indeed, Barzal has been lights this season, with 44 points in 44 games prior to Monday and coming off the buzz of a five-point game on Saturday — the second time he’s done that this season.

But John Tavares, who had just one goal in nine games coming into Monday, stole some of that spotlight back with a shorthanded goal in regulation and then the game-winner in overtime in a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

Tavares second of the game came 1:51 into over time and after Carey Price made quite the save to stop a redirected attempt by Tavares just before the latter scored the winner.

Barzal was at it again early in the first period as the Islanders jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.

Barzal fed Anthony Beauvillier with a nice lead pass and the latter ripped home his eighth of the season just down the road from where he grew up in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, beating Carey Price with New York’s first shot of the game.

It was Barzal’s 30th assist of the season and he followed that up with his 16th goal of the year on the Islanders just over five minutes later for the two-goal advantage. Barzal finished with three points and now has 10 in his past three games.

The Canadiens entered the game 2-0-1 in their past three games but were without Phillip Danault due to a puck to the head on Saturday and Andrew Shaw, who was injured in the same game.

Despite their recent success, things looked grim early on, with Price allowing two goals on four shots.

The Hab battled back, first by forcing a turnover in New York’s zone, allowing Jakub Jerabek to quickly find a wide open Nicolas Deslauriers out front to make it 2-1.

Another defensive breakdown by the Isles led to the tying goal as Paul Byron snatched his 12th of the year on a rebound.

Barzal grabbed his third point of the night early in the second period as the Isles restored the lead with Adam Pelech‘s first of the season at 2:37. And the Islanders led by two for the second time as John Tavares scored shorthanded 1:59 later on New York’s 10th shot.

The Canadiens, down two again, needed a second comeback and they put it together beginning with Jonathan Drouin‘s marker with 34 seconds left in the second period.

Montreal completed the comeback on the power play in the third, with Max Pacioretty scoring his 14th at 13:01.

Canadiens’ Phillip Danault has concussion symptoms after being hit by slap shot

The Montreal Canadiens offered an update on injured forward Phillip Danault on Monday afternoon, announcing that he is currently dealing with concussion-like symptoms and that he will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

Danault was injured over the weekend when he was hit in the head by a Zdeno Chara slap shot.

It was an especially scary moment as Danault remained on the ice for several minutes and had to be carried off on a stretcher. He was taken to a local hospital for observation before being released.

[Canadiens’ Danault takes slap shot to head]

In 43 games this season Danault has scored seven goals and added 16 assists for the Canadiens.

Along with Danault the Canadiens are also dealing with an injury to veteran forward Andrew Shaw who the team announced will be sidelined with a lower body injury and that his status will be evaluated again in 10 days.

With Danault and Shaw sidelined the Canadiens claimed forward Logan Shaw off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Joe Thornton and his beard thankful to Nazem Kadri for ‘a little trim’

The fact that he’s now missing a chunk of his big, bushy beard is no trouble for Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks. As he and Nazem Kadri tussled early in Thursday’s game, the Toronto Maple Leafs forward ended up with a hairy piece of memorabilia after things broke up.

There clearly was no intent by Kadri to purposefully tug at Thornton’s beard and the Sharks forward had no ill feelings about the unique ending to their fight. In fact, he felt the Leafs forward did him a bit of a favor.

“It’s just so big. He was probably trying to grab for the collar of my shirt and, obviously, there’s a lot there,” Thornton told Paul Gackle of the Mercury News. “I needed a little trim, so it saved me some money. I needed to thin it out a little bit.”

[Joe Thornton’s beard biggest loser vs. Nazem Kadri]

The clump of beard ended up first in backup goalie Aaron Dell‘s glove and then in a Ziploc bag inside the Sharks’ dressing room after the game.

“I thought I was a hockey player, not a barber,” Kadri said. “I had no idea how I ended up with beard … I felt I pulled him in the middle of his jersey, and I came down with a hand full of hair.”

“When I was on the ice, I looked down and I saw his hand, and I thought, that’s my hair,” Thornton told Gackle. “I remember thinking, okay, that’s interesting.”

It’s unclear what will happen to that unique piece of sports memorabilia, but if Andrew Shaw can auction off stitches for charity, then surely Jumbo Joe could bring in a boatload of money for good cause by putting a clump of his legendary beard up for bid.

As for how long until the beard is back to 100 percent, Thornton said to give it four or five days. “No big deal.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Price, Canadiens continue to roll

Associated Press
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Players of the Night:

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Price made like a brick wall for the third straight game, stopping 27 of 28 shots he faced for his third straight win since returning from injury. Montreal had been a tire fire prior to Price’s return, and Price had been a tire fire before he went down with the mysterious lower-body injury. Price’s revival looks very, very good over the past three games with a 0.67 goals-against average and a .980 save percentage. The Canadiens have won three-straight.

Antoine Vermette, Anaheim Ducks: Vermette picked a good night to end his 11-game goal-scoring drought, netting twice, including the game-winner, as the Ducks beat the St. Louis Blues. Anaheim had lost their previous four games before Wednesday’s win.

Highlights of the Night:

This is just one filthy, filthy pass by Andrew Shaw:

Riley Nash made Andrei Vasilevskiy look pedestrian with this slick wrister:

Steven Stamkos ended a five-game goal-less slump when he finished off this tic-tac-toe play on the power play:

The Mighty Stumble:

The NHL’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams coming into Wednesday night’s action both fell to lesser teams (going by standings, of course).

On Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBSCN, the Boston Bruins topped the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2. Charlie McAvoy had a goal and an assist and played over 28 minutes for the Bruins.

Kyle Brodziak scored twice in the final four minutes for St. Louis, but it wasn’t enough to claw his team back from a 3-0 deficit.

The Winnipeg Jets took a too many men penalty with seven seconds left in regulation in a 2-2 game and paid for it when the game shifted into overtime as Nathan MacKinnon scored 59 seconds into extra time.

The Jets had a chance to move into a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference with St. Louis losing. Alas, it was not to be.

MISC:

  • Tuukka Rask hasn’t had a good start to the year — he has just four wins in 14 starts — but he stopped 19 shots on Wednesday against the league’s top team to end a four-game skid, including this fine save:

  • Bryan Little has eight points in nine games since ending an 11-game goal-scoring drought on Nov. 14.
  • Erik Karlsson continues to starve the scoresheet of his name. He is now seven games without a goal or an assist, this after recording 17 in his previous 10 games.

Factoid of the Night:

And it was a pretty nice goal to boot.

So majestic.

Scores: 

Bruins 3, Lightning 2

Canadiens 2, Senators 1

Ducks 3, Blues 2

Avalanche 3, Jets 2 (OT)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

More tension in Montreal after ‘unacceptable’ loss to Coyotes

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Thursday night was rough for the Montreal Canadiens, and not just because of those fights with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Habs fell to the Coyotes 5-4, giving Arizona its first regulation win of 2017-18. After the game, Montreal head coach Claude Julien looked pretty livid, expressing the belief that the issue was not respecting the “gameplan” more than their opponents.

You can see Julien fume in two languages in the presser clip below, with the English answers kicking in around the :45 mark:

It’s been a great ride at times for young goalie Charlie Lindgren, but he showed veteran-level finesse with this quip:

Wait, does this mean I should throw out my uniform-themed skates?

If the loss wasn’t frustrating enough for Montreal, there are some injuries to worry about. Both Andrew Shaw and Brendan Gallagher should be monitored after these moments:

Not good.

The Habs slip down to 8-10-2 on the season, as they continue to see ups and downs. Things started off ugly (and unlucky) with a mark of 1-6-1, but Montreal seemed to correct its course, winning six of eight games from Oct. 28 – Nov. 7. They stumbling has resumed, unfortunately, and Julien must find himself searching for answers.

It all brings up a scarier question: is this really about scheme or are the Canadiens fated for the middle of the pack sooner than expected?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.