Cam Tucker

The Wild now sit all alone atop the Central Division

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The Minnesota Wild bested the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, and now sit in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Playing the second half of a back-to-back situation that involved travel from Dallas, where Minnesota won Saturday, the Wild fell behind Chicago courtesy two goals from Patrick Kane. Sure, the first goal on Devan Dubnyk was fluttered off the stick of Kane and under the arm of the Minnesota goalie.

But Dubnyk played the remainder of this pivotal game the way Wild fans have become accustomed to since he was acquired. He made 33 saves and was busiest in the second period. Outside of Kane’s second goal, Dubnyk was solid in the middle period and didn’t give up anything the rest of the way. The Wild came back for a 3-2 win. On the road. In hostile territory.

Minnesota, not far removed from a franchise-best 12-game winning streak, now sits at 61 points in 42 games, two points ahead of the Blackhawks and with four fewer games played.

Jason Pominville scored the winner early in the third period.

There are many reasons for the Wild’s success through the first half under coach Bruce Boudreau. Dubnyk’s play has been Vezina caliber. He has a .940 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average. Minnesota is second in the league when it comes to the lowest number of goals-against per game and only Washington is better in that category.

The Wild have been scoring plenty, too, fourth in the league with 3.19 goals-for per game, with contributions throughout their lineup.

Free agent signings can always be a risk — an expensive risk — but Eric Staal has rewarded the Wild by producing at just under a point per game rate. He could have his most productive season in several years — at the age of 32 and approaching 1,000 regular season games played.

They won’t have long to enjoy their view from the top.

The Wild host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to begin a four-game home stand.

More bad news for Bolts: Callahan out four weeks with lower-body injury

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Four points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and about to begin a six-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a tough task trying to climb the Eastern Conference standings.

There was more bad news for the Bolts on Sunday.

Forward Ryan Callahan, who hasn’t played since Jan. 7, will miss approximately four weeks because of a lower-body injury, the club announced.

Callahan made his season debut at the end of October. The start to his season was delayed due to the recovery from hip surgery he underwent to fix an issue from last season. Based on a report from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, Callahan is once again dealing with a hip injury, although the club didn’t elaborate, announcing it as a lower-body injury.

In 18 games this season, Callahan has two goals and four points.

The Bolts, Stanley Cup contenders that have gone deep into the post-season in each of the last two campaigns, are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Right now, Toronto, Ottawa and Florida all sit ahead of the Lightning in the battle for third in the Atlantic. Now into the second half of the season, they will have to quickly get out of this funk in order to close in the post-season race.

“The results are all that matters,” Brian Boyle told the Tampa Bay Times. “We need to change our attitude a little bit, kind of find our mojo, carry ourselves with a little bit more confidence. We can score quick goals. We can come from behind, jump out to leads and bury teams. We’ve done that in the past with this group.”

The Bolts begin this six-game road trip Monday against the L.A. Kings.

Video: One of the more unusual goals Patrick Kane has scored versus Wild

Patrick Kane has scored some memorable, spectacular goals against the Minnesota Wild throughout the years.

He scored once again against the Wild on Sunday. This one will be memorable, too. Spectacular? Not so much.

Cutting down the right wing, Kane went to snap a shot on Devan Dubnyk. He got the shot away, all right. Except the puck rolled on him at the last second. Despite that, he still managed to flutter the puck under the right arm of the Wild netminder to give Chicago an early lead.

Injured during win over Flyers, Carlson will travel with Capitals to Pittsburgh

John Carlson
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Winners of nine in a row, the Washington Capitals meet their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Monday.

It’s a chance for the red-hot Capitals to extend the winning streak against a team that has lost three in a row.

An important question for Washington heading into this match-up is whether defenseman John Carlson will be healthy enough to play after leaving Sunday’s impressive win over Philadelphia with an apparent injury following the first period.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

Trotz did not say much about Carlson’s injury other than to say it’s possible that he’ll play against the Penguins on Monday.  

“He’s coming with us,” Trotz said. The Caps departed immediately after Sunday’s win for Pittsburgh.

“The trainers worked some magic,” the coach added, “so he’s a possible.”

So, an encouraging assessment, perhaps? Further to that, reports out of Washington state the Capitals won’t recall anyone from the AHL.

The Capitals have been rolling over the competition during this streak. Carlson, 27, is an integral member of their lineup. He has 25 points in 43 games but he also leads the team in ice time, playing on both the penalty kill (ranked second in the NHL  at 86.5 per cent) and power play (ranked 15th in the league at 18.5 per cent).

Something to build on? Jets cap tumultuous week with OT loss to Kings

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during the game against Minnesota Wild on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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This has been an eventful few days for the Winnipeg Jets.

They lost to Montreal on Wednesday, leading to a profanity-laden post-game presser from head coach Paul Maurice as he described the play of his team. Two days later, on the road, Winnipeg had a horrific start against the Arizona Coyotes and eventually lost, resulting in a players’ meeting afterward.

All this while the Jets sit out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. They lost again on Saturday, a 3-2 overtime defeat to the L.A. Kings that dropped Winnipeg four points back in the Wild Card race.

Despite the loss, Maurice lauded his team’s performance once it got over a slow start.

“Sometime on back-to-backs, it takes a little while and then after that, I thought we played a helluva game. Really liked a lot of what we did and look to build,” he said.

Still, it’s been a difficult week for the Jets and they didn’t respond well in the wake of Maurice’s comments when they faced the Coyotes. That’s certainly a formula that could lead to speculation about Maurice’s future with the club.

However, there was this from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet on Saturday:

“I’m told he’s not in trouble. And he’s got a contract for next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if they talk about an extension in the summer.”

The Jets play the San Jose Sharks on Monday, before returning to Winnipeg for a four-game home stand.