Cam Tucker

Video: This, um, gutsy Kucherov shootout move was apparently planned

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It takes a lot of confidence — yeah, let’s go with that — to try a move like this.

But when you’re an accomplished goal scorer like Nikita Kucherov is, why not, right? The Lightning forward completely fooled Robin Lehner in the shootout Saturday, faking the shot and the move to his left, while letting the puck slide right through the legs of the Sabres goalie.

Tampa Bay won by a final score of 2-1.

Now, upon first glance, it’s understandable to initially think that perhaps Kucherov simply lost control of the puck and Lehner just didn’t play it very well. But, according to reports, this was planned in advance. He then went out and successfully pulled it off, helping the Lightning move to within three points of the New York Islanders for the final wild card spot in the East.

The Habs have suddenly turned things around

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Remember all of that talk about the Montreal Canadiens being fragile?

It was there, just over a week ago, even after a blockbuster bye week coaching change that brought Claude Julien back behind the bench. And it’s understandable, too, especially after what occurred last season in Montreal.

In less than 10 days, the once-reeling Habs have suddenly sparked a five-game winning streak that culminated with a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Previously during this run, the Canadiens had managed to get by on one-goal games, needing overtime and the shootout.

But not at Madison Square Garden.

They beat Henrik Lundqvist for four goals, taking a three-goal lead after 40 minutes — a 40 minutes in which the Canadiens controlled most of the play. And they continued that into the third period, even when the Rangers seemed to gain a little bit of life with the Chris Kreider goal.

Montreal is now 6-2 under Julien.

It’s also worth noting that Carey Price seems to have returned to his brick-wall kind of ways in net. Remember, he endured a prolonged personal slump, with a save percentage at one point from Dec. 1 sitting at .898. That’s a staggering number for a goalie of Price’s caliber.

In his last seven games, he hasn’t allowed more than two goals in a single start. That includes a tidy 26-save performance versus the Rangers. (Habs fans certainly had to be on edge when Price and Rick Nash collided earlier in the game.)

The Habs maintain their six-point lead on the Senators for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa still has three games in hand.

 

Video: McLeod and Tootoo go toe-to-toe at center ice

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Cody McLeod and Jordin Tootoo dropped the gloves right at center ice in the first period of Saturday’s game between the host Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

McLeod had the obvious size advantage, but both landed some heavy shots before they got tangled up and officials intervened.

The Blackhawks are looking to extend their winning streak to seven games and, at least for now, take over first in the Central Division, while the Predators are looking to put eight points distance between them and the St. Louis Blues for third in the Central.

Video: It didn’t take long for the Flyers and Capitals to renew hostilities

No love lost between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.

They renewed hostilities Saturday, and it didn’t take long for tempers to boil as Justin Williams started throwing punches at Nick Cousins only 1:55 into the opening period. The skirmish originated from a solid Kevin Shattenkirk hit on Cousins along the boards.

Brandon Manning got involved, as did Williams, before Cousins also jumped back into things by grabbing the veteran Capitals forward.

It might not end there. Several members of the media couldn’t help but observe a little chat between Tom Wilson and Wayne Simmonds, no strangers to the rough stuff in hockey.

More injury concerns for Buffalo as Kulikov leaves game vs. Bolts

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The Buffalo Sabres were already without Kyle Okposo for tonight’s game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Now there is more injury concern for the Sabres. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov did not come out for the second period, with the team later stating that he is done for the night with an upper-body injury.

Per reports from John Vogl of the Buffalo News, Kulikov went to the dressing room after taking a big hit in the first period.

In 38 games this season, Kulikov has one goal and one assist.