Cam Tucker

Patrick Kane scores OT winner, Blackhawks complete comeback versus Sabres

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Wins have been rare for the Chicago Blackhawks of late.

Luckily for them, they’ve been able to build up a decent enough lead in the Central Division, and despite one win in their last six games prior to Thursday, they’ve maintained top spot over the recently red hot Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks got an added boost with the return of Marian Hossa to their lineup Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Despite being separated by 15 points in the overall standings entering this game, the Sabres gave the Blackhawks everything they could handle. It helped that Anders Nilsson made 39 saves and was almost unbeatable in the first period, when Buffalo surrendered 20 shots on goal.

The Sabres were just over two minutes away from stealing two points on the road. Jack Eichel‘s goal, his eighth of the season, looked like it might stand as the winner, before Artem Anisimov tied it up with a late goal, his 17th, and Patrick Kane won it in overtime for Chicago.

The Blackhawks host the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

An instant classic: Troy Terry plays the shootout hero, Team USA wins gold at World Juniors

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What a hockey game that was.

Exactly what else would you expect when Canada and the USA meet in the World Juniors? They authored another edge-of-your-seat classic Thursday with a gold medal on the line in Montreal.

Twice, Canada managed to pull out in front with a two-goal lead, including in the third period. But this is junior hockey, and it can be an emotional roller coaster for all involved, with wild swings in momentum. Tonight’s contest was no different. Twice, the Americans countered back to even the score, with both teams providing a dizzying array of scoring chances and close calls.

Troy Terry played the hero for Team USA in the shootout in the semifinal. And he did it again Thursday, as the only player to score in the five-round shootout. The Americans came back for the 5-4 win in a thriller.

Down 4-2 after a pair of quick Canadian goals early in the third period, the USA roared back. New York Islanders first-round pick Kieffer Bellows started the second comeback and Ottawa Senators prospect Colin White, less than three minutes later, tied this game.

Canada versus USA. Going to overtime. A game this good deserved some additional time. The extra period was off the charts, too, with the Americans forced to kill a too-many-men penalty and players on both sides exhausting themselves.

Terry didn’t score until the fourth round of the shootout. Tyler Parsons stopped all five shots faced in the shootout for the win.

 

Video: ‘That is one helluva run,’ says Torts after Blue Jackets winning streak ends

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It had to end eventually.

Unfortunately for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, their franchise best winning streak ended at 16 games after a 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals. It closes one win shy of matching the NHL record held by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

That’s quite a stretch of hockey for the Blue Jackets, who have played their way into first place in the Metropolitan Division. And the significance wasn’t lost on coach John Tortorella afterward.

It’s all over: Capitals end Blue Jackets winning streak at 16 games

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The streak is over.

But what a run it was for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After 16 consecutive wins and a chance at tying the NHL record for the longest winning streak in its history, the Blue Jackets lost for the first time since late-November as they fell 5-0 to the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

With a win, Columbus would’ve tied the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest winning streak ever in the NHL, and had a chance to set the new record on Saturday against the New York Rangers.

The young Blue Jackets have emerged as Stanley Cup favorites, albeit in January. They lead the Metropolitan Division and they have the best power play in the league. Certainly, they have to be considered a contender for the Eastern Conference at this point in the season.

As coach John Tortorella rightfully pointed out, the Blue Jackets have been recognized on a national scale for something positive, which has never really been the case for a franchise that hasn’t done much winning in its time.

“There is no burden with our team and that’s what I like about it,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch. “A lot of these guys haven’t been covered nationally . . . This has brought a little bit of light to the organization in a positive way. A number of things have been in a negative way with the organization over the years.

“That’s what I like. We’re getting a little bit of experience to the exposure where if you have an opportunity to play in the playoffs, it’s on you. For such a young team I think it’s good that we are being spoon fed some of it.”

But all good things must come to an end.

The Blue Jackets didn’t get off to a great start. It wasn’t a bad opening 20 minutes for them. They had the edge in shots, forcing Braden Holtby to be on top of his game. But the Capitals capitalized on goals from Daniel Winnik on a scramble in front and John Carlson off the rush to take the lead, and they never looked back.

They increased that lead to four goals in the second period. Even Nate Schmidt, who hadn’t scored in almost a full year, got into the act for Washington, making it 3-0.

Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in the third period.

And that top-ranked Blue Jackets power play couldn’t score on its five opportunities.

WATCH LIVE: Sabres at Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 08: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres and Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks chase the puck at the United Center on January 8, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Sabres 3-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Despite going through a recent slump, the Chicago Blackhawks still hold top spot in the Central Division, while their opponent Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres, is looking to climb out of the basement in the Eastern Conference.

The Blackhawks and Sabres meet tonight at the United Center in Chicago at 8:30 p.m. ET.

You can catch tonight’s game on TV on NBCSN, or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

NHL on NBCSN: Sabres don’t want to take slumping ‘Hawks lightly

The Blackhawks have new lines again, as trade speculation heats up

Unlike Rex Ryan, Dan Bylsma doesn’t report directly to the Pegulas (Updated)