Cam Tucker

Video: The dynamic duo of Kane, Panarin lights up Jimmy Howard

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Talk about a rude welcome back.

On Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made his first start since Dec. 20, after missing nearly three months because of an injury. That’s certainly a difficult opponent to go up against, especially in your first game back after being out for such a long time.

Then put Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin on the ice together, and the task ahead can seem almost unfair. The high-flying duo combined to put Chicago up 1-0 less than five minutes into the first period, on just the second shot Howard faced in the game.

Off a two-on-two rush, Kane moved into the zone and then fed a backhand pass across to Panarin, who was given entirely too much room from Danny DeKeyser to tee up his shot from the slot, easily beating Howard on the stick side.

Video: The Sabres quickly ended Bobrovsky’s attempt for a fourth straight shutout

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All good things must come to an end.

Sergei Bobrovsky‘s bid for a fourth consecutive shutout ended early in the first period of Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, as Evan Rodrigues opened the scoring at the 2:50 mark.

He falls just 26 seconds shy of breaking Devan Dubnyk‘s mark for the longest shutout streak in the league this season, and also comes up short of making Blue Jackets club history, held by Steve Mason from 2008-09, for the same achievement.

Per reports, that ends Bobrovsky’s shutout streak at 182 minutes and 50 seconds. Prior to Friday, he last allowed a goal against on Feb. 28 versus the Montreal Canadiens.

This latest stretch comes with Bobrovsky in the midst of a terrific season — and the Vezina conversation — as the workhorse netminder in Columbus. He entered tonight’s game with a .931 save percentage — his career save percentage is .919 — and six shutouts.

Just another ‘disheartening’ and ‘unacceptable’ loss for the Avalanche

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Consider the following as a microcosm of the Colorado Avalanche season.

Blake Comeau, on a breakaway, with his team down 5-0 to the Winnipeg Jets in the second period, deciding at the hash marks that passing the puck to a trailing teammate was the play to make. Instead, the puck was turned over on to the stick of the back-checking Patrik Laine.

It was a seemingly unthinkable decision, an embarrassing gaffe that underlined the depths of how bad things turned for Colorado in a 6-1 loss to the Jets on Saturday, in game No. 63 of another disastrous season for the Avalanche.

It’s almost over, the regular season that is. Only 19 games remaining with the Avalanche all alone in last place overall by 16 points. Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog remained in Colorado after the trade deadline but that could certainly change in the summer.

This has been an extraordinarily bad season for the Avs.

On Saturday, Colorado was down 3-0 by the midway point of the first period. It proceeded to go from bad to worse from there. Such has been the case for the Avalanche over the last three seasons.

“We had a couple games like this already this year,” said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, per the Denver Post.

“I thought we were past that as a group. It’s a tough situation we’re in. There’s no doubt. It can be disheartening at times, but that remains unacceptable. We gotta play with some pride, and tonight we didn’t have it.”

Capitals home-ice dominance continues with OT win over Flyers

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WASHINGTON (AP) Nicklas Backstrom scored a power-play goal in overtime to lift the Washington Capitals over the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Saturday night and extend their franchise-record home winning streak to 15.

Backstrom ended the Capitals’ power-play frustrations by beating Steve Mason 3:25 into overtime for his 20th goal of the season. It came with Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto in the penalty box for holding, the 12th minor penalty of the game.

Dmitry Orlov also scored for NHL-leading Washington, which got 30 saves from Braden Holtby. Mason stopped 22 of 24 shots, while Sean Couturier snapped out of his offensive slump to score Philadelphia’s goal.

The Flyers went 0 for 6 on the power play and are 0 for 15 this season against the Capitals.

The teams’ playoff series last spring and two contentious recent meetings turned up the intensity from the drop of the puck. Not surprisingly, Capitals disturber extraordinaire Tom Wilson and big Flyers wing Tom Wilson were part of some pushing and shoving in the first minute.

Justin Williams, feisty in facing the team he began his career with, got into it with Philadelphia’s Nick Cousins a couple of shifts later. There were plenty of big hits, extra taps and hard feelings, and Wilson and Simmonds even spent a commercial break jawing at each other on the benches.

When they calmed down with the antics and played hockey, the Capitals and Flyers traded offensive chances at even strength even as they played two periods without a goal.

Philadelphia finally cracked Holtby 1:19 into the third period when Couturier redirected a pass from Matt Read into the net for his first goal since Feb. 2. The lead lasted just 81 seconds until Orlov busted in over the blue line and fired a long-range shot that beat Mason clean at 2:40 of the third.

Mason made a series of jaw-dropping saves over the course of the game, including one with his mask in overtime. But there wasn’t much he could do on Backstrom’s 4-on-3 winner, when the Swedish center snapped a shot from near the right faceoff dot.

Blackhawks win seven straight game, take over first in Central Division — for now

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The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators appeared to be heading to overtime — until Brian Campbell found himself wide open in the slot with only 1:05 remaining in regulation.

After taking a pass from Jonathan Toews, Campbell did the rest, snapping a shot by Juuse Saros to give Chicago a 4-3 lead and Nashville barely any time to conjure another comeback.

Patrick Kane added another goal 26 seconds later and the Blackhawks emerged with a 5-3 victory — their seventh consecutive win, which has put them into first in the Central Division and Western Conference.

For now, anyway. The Wild, one point back, have three games in hand.

“I know [the Wild] had an amazing run and we’ve had a nice run ourselves. All of a sudden you move up and obviously, whether it was just a dream or something like that, let’s keep the pressure on them,” said coach Joel Quenneville, per CSN Chicago.

“It was realistic keeping them in our sights.”

That’s Campbell’s first goal since Jan. 10, as he snapped his scoring drought at 20 games.

And then there is Jordin Tootoo. He finally buried his first goal — and first point — of the season in his 38th game. That goal gave Chicago a two-goal lead. Prior to that, he had a spirited fight at center ice with Predators’ tough guy Cody McLeod.

“He got in a fight and gave us momentum, he drew a penalty that we scored on, he scored a goal, and he [generated] a lot of momentum on his shifts,” said Campbell of Tootoo, per the Chicago Sun-Times.

“He hasn’t played a whole lot lately. [But] he’s the first one out there [in practices] helping the goalies out. He works hard and he’s positive all the time. It’s nice that he gets some recognition. He deserves that.”