Cam Tucker

Quenneville: Blackhawks have been ‘extremely fortunate a lot of nights’ as winning streak ends

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Something had to give Friday, as the Capitals and Blackhawks met in Chicago.

Both teams are definitely considered championship contenders in their respective conferences, and both have been piling up the wins to this point in the season. After Friday’s result, the Capitals are now within a point of Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers for the Metropolitan Division lead.

Without Artem Anisimov due to a lower-body injury, which is a big loss because he’s been so productive, the Blackhawks fought back to extend their point streak to 10 games thanks to a late tying goal from Marian Hossa.

The chance for a comeback victory, however, was dashed when Marcus Johansson scored 2:20 into overtime, as the Capitals took this heavyweight clash 3-2. The point streak continues for Chicago, which has benefited from great goaltending and timely scoring, but the winning streak ended at seven games.

“We’ve been in this stretch for a while now, and we’ve been extremely fortunate a lot of nights,” Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We can be better in ways, but we’ll take it.”

Meanwhile, the Capitals rebounded from a shutout loss to San Jose earlier in the week.

Up next for the Blackhawks is a Sunday meeting with the Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price, who has been sensational in net. After that, they’re on the road for seven games.

It’s a trip that should present plenty of difficulty for the Blackhawks. Sure, there are games against struggling teams from Calgary and Vancouver.

But they’ll also face Connor McDavid and the Oilers, and travel through California, ending the trip with three games in four nights against San Jose, Anaheim and California.

Andy Greene isn’t known for his scoring, but this OT penalty shot goal was pretty nice

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A penalty shot in overtime. Game on the line. Andy Greene standing at center ice with a chance to win it.

No problem, apparently.

The 34-year-old Greene has scored 37 goals in 654 career games in the NHL, but never more than eight goals in a single season. That was in 2013-14. But the veteran defenseman made no mistake facing Anders Nilsson on Friday, deking to his forehand and then sliding the puck through the legs of the Buffalo Sabres goalie to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 win.

The Devils, without forward Mike Cammalleri tonight due to personal reasons, have now won three in a row to move into a Wild Card position.

As goaltending remains an issue in Philadelphia, Maple Leafs light up Mason and the Flyers

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Steve Mason #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers makes the first period save on Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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A one-goal lead on the road heading into the third period? Not a bad position to be in.

That’s the situation the Philadelphia Flyers found themselves in Friday, facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. But things quickly spiraled from good to bad for the Flyers in the final period, leading to another disappointing loss.

Yes, the Leafs have a team with young players that have shown they’re capable of scoring and they can do so in bunches.

But the Flyers fell apart in the final period. Their starting goalie, Steve Mason, could now be the focal point for criticism from Philadelphia fans, especially given how goaltending has been an issue for that team.

The Leafs scored four times in the third period. On nine shots. The result of the Flyers’ collapse? A 6-3 win for Toronto, which had only 23 shots on goal.

Scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Flyers.

The same can’t be said for keeping the puck out of their own net, allowing 3.33 goals-against per game while deploying Mason and Michal Neuvirth as their goalies. At five-on-five, they have a league-worst 88.82 save percentage. (The Leafs are 29th in that category.)

“Yeah, I mean we’ve talked about it so much honestly back in Philadelphia, it’s kind of tiring,” Mason told the National Post. “But the goalies just haven’t been good enough. We realize that. We have to get better. It’s simple.”

Friday’s result isn’t likely to quiet the talk about Philadelphia’s goaltending situation.

Bickell ‘is a fighter,’ says his agent after multiple sclerosis diagnosis

Bryan Bickell
AP
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The hockey world continues to lend its thoughts and support to Bryan Bickell after it was announced Friday that the Carolina Hurricanes forward has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Chicago Blackhawks, the team Bickell played 384 games for from 2007 to 2016, released a statement on Friday, with president John McDonough saying, “Our thoughts are with Bryan, his family and the Carolina Hurricanes during this challenging time.”

“He has built so many lasting relationships in Chicago both inside and outside of the Blackhawks organization based on his play on the ice and character off of it. Together, we will keep him in our thoughts during his fight against the disease.”

Following Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals, Blackhawks players offered their support for Bickell.

“It’s pretty shocking. What can you say? I think everyone in this room, in this organization, as close as we all are to Bicks, our hearts go out to him and wish him the best health possible,” Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Hopefully he can hang in there and find ways to stay strong despite his condition. Obviously it’s kind of crazy for him. He probably has a lot of people reaching out to him. I’m sure all the guys in this locker room that know him really well will reach out and send him a message and offer their support. It’s pretty shocking but we’re all thinking about him right now.”

In a statement Friday, Bickell admitted he had been trying during the 2015 playoffs to figure out what was wrong with his body. He went through concussion testing, before eventually getting diagnosed with vertigo. It was reported later that summer that the cause of the vertigo was likely an infection from a tooth that needed to be pulled.

The symptoms he was experiencing persisted into training camp the following season. He outlined the difficulties involved with trying to come back, saying he would take steps forward, only to regress once again.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Despite the frustration of not knowing what was wrong when he was with the Hawks, Bickell never had any issue with how the Hawks’ medical staff treated him in Chicago, Bickell’s agent Todd Diamond told the Tribune. Bickell declined comment when reached by the Tribune.

“They looked at and assisted in addressing many potential scenarios during and after the 2015 playoffs,” Diamond said. “It is difficult at this point to say if those symptoms were the onset of the current situation. Bryan is a fighter and will tackle this head on with the support of his family.”

Jets’ Trouba to make season debut tonight versus Avalanche

WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 10: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets skates down the ice during warmup before an NHL game against the Boston Bruins at the MTS Centre on April 10, 2014 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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The long wait is about to be over.

Jacob Trouba is expected to be in the lineup for the Winnipeg Jets when they face the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, marking the season debut of the right-shooting blue liner. According to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, it’s not really known exactly who his defense partner will be.

After months of speculation about the future of the restricted free agent in Winnipeg, contract talks and a trade request, the 22-year-old Trouba re-signed with the Jets on Monday for two years and $6 million. He re-joined the team on Tuesday.

Finally getting into game action well after the beginning of the season, Trouba may display some rust tonight, which seems like it would only be natural.

But going forward, he could be a huge boost for the Jets, who have won two in a row and three of their last four games.

“He needs to get into a game,” head coach Paul Maurice told reporters. “The game’s different this year than in (the) past. It is faster. You can do a lot of video, you can do a lot of short-area drills, but eventually you’ve got to get on the ice and play a game.”