Cam Tucker

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets watches a replay during a break in action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Blue Jackets 2-1 in a shoot out. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Blue Jackets extend winning streak as Torts earns career win No. 500


Make that nine straight wins for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Make that career win No. 500 for head coach John Tortorella.

The Blue Jackets continued their recent run as the league’s hottest team with a 4-3 overtime victory on Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks — the same team Tortorella coached for one tumultuous and ultimately disappointing season.

Per the NHL, Tortorella is the first American-born coach to reach the milestone.

Seth Jones scored the winner in the three-on-three session, as the Blue Jackets were able to regroup following a difficult third period on the road.

The Canucks have shown a penchant for wild and unpredictable third periods this season. They’ve come back to earn wins, and they’ve collapsed in epic fashion to lose points, as well.

This time, they managed to score three times in the final period of regulation, gaining at least a point.

The Blue Jackets, the surprise turnaround team in the league so far this season, are one point back of the Rangers (in action tonight versus New Jersey) and the Penguins for the lead in the Metropolitan Division.

But there is no doubt this is a big win for Tortorella, as well. He’s a polarizing figure in the hockey world.

His time in Vancouver generated headlines on a constant basis, in what can be considered only as a spectacular failure, despite what was actually a strong start for the team under his guidance.

The timing of Tortorella’s visit back to Vancouver comes not only with his own team on a roll, but with the Canucks struggling and their current coach, Willie Desjardins, on the hot seat.

He’s been there for some time.

Crawford (appendectomy) is nearing a return to Blackhawks crease

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 28:  Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 28, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Good news for the Chicago Blackhawks, as goalie Corey Crawford is approaching a return to game action.

Crawford had an appendectomy earlier this month, forcing him out of the lineup. He has missed the last eight games as a result.

According to reports on Sunday, Crawford could start on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche — the final game for the Blackhawks before the holiday break.

From the Chicago Tribune:

That would mean Crawford would return in the two-to-three week timetable doctors game him for returning to play after the procedure. Crawford skated in Chicago while the Hawks were on their recent three-game trip. He also skated Sunday and will skate Monday when the rest of the team is off.

In Crawford’s absence, Scott Darling has been busy in net, starting every game since Crawford underwent his procedure.

He had a nice run through the middle of this stretch, allowing a total of three goals in four games. But he has since allowed four goals in each of his last two starts — both wins.

Heading into Sunday’s game against San Jose, the Blackhawks had managed to win five of their last six games. Chicago had also appeared to be getting healthier, with the return of Jonathan Toews.

However, forward Artem Anisimov is now listed as day-to-day after suffering an injury in Saturday’s game versus St. Louis.

Report: Canucks’ Gudbranson could undergo wrist surgery

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5:  Erik Gudbranson #44 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on November 5, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Canucks 6-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Just when the Vancouver Canucks appeared to be getting healthier . . .

There were reports Saturday night that Canucks’ defenseman Erik Gudbranson could be facing wrist surgery, which, according to News 1130 Sports in Vancouver, could mean “significant” time out of the lineup.

Earlier in the day, the club reported the 24-year-old Gudbranson, acquired in a trade last spring for rookie Jared McCann, was still being evaluated after missing Friday’s win over Tampa Bay.

The news comes after Chris Tanev, arguably the club’s most reliable defenseman, returned to the lineup after missing a total of 23 games this season with a lower-body injury.

The Canucks host John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

‘Perfect timing’ — Tatar’s first career hat trick leads Red Wings over Ducks


DETROIT (AP) Tomas Tatar broke out of a scoring slump.

The Detroit Red Wings did, too.

Tatar got his first career hat trick, helping Detroit beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-4 on Saturday night to get a desperately needed win with a breakout offensive performance.

“It’s perfect timing,” he said.

Tatar got his third goal early in the third period, putting the puck on both sides of his stick before flipping it over John Gibson.

Detroit scored more goals (four) in the first two periods than it totaled over its previous four games – all home losses – and finished with a season scoring high.

“We knew we weren’t good enough the last four games,” Tatar said.

Detroit has needed Tatar to play better, too.

The Czech winger almost matched the number of goals (four) he scored in his first 31 games of the season. Tatar, who made his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season, scored a career-high 29 goals two years ago and had 21 goals last season.

Xavier Ouellet scored his first of the season and third of his career with 2:08 left in the second period to put the Red Wings ahead 4-3, their first lead in five games.

Petr Mrazek helped Detroit keep the lead, finishing with 21 saves.

Anaheim’s Jonathan Bernier stopped 17 shots through two periods before being pulled by Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.

“He wanted to turn things around and spark the team,” Bernier said.

Rakell and Shea Theodore scored in the first period, giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead that seemed safe against a team that has been struggling to score. Cam Fowler gave them another two-goal lead early in the second.

Tatar, though, pulled Detroit within a goal for the second time, and quickly the Red Wings figured out a way to score.

A little luck helped.

Tatar shot the puck and it went off the left skate of Fowler, caromed off the end boards and went off the back of Bernier’s left leg and into the net.

“It’s a tough building when you’re not used to those bounces,” Bernier said.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin went to the front of the net and into the crease and was rewarded with a tying goal midway through the second period that stood after a video review and challenge by Carlyle.

“I thought I was in good position and had it,” Bernier said. “It trickled in.”

Rickard Rakell scored his second goal of the game less than two minutes later, pulling Anaheim within a goal.

The Red Wings restored their two-goal lead midway through the third when Frans Nielsen scored off a rebound in front of the net.

“It’s a game of confidence,” Nielsen said.

Blackhawks rally once again — this time to beat the Blues

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: (L-R) Brian Campbell #51, Richard Panik #14 and Dennis Rasmussen #70 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate Panik's goal at 13:47 of the third period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 15, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The third period began and the Chicago Blackhawks were trailing. They would fall behind the St. Louis Blues, and then come back. Fall behind and then come back.

That was until the third period, when Chicago took over for good.

Thanks to three third-period goals — an equalizer from Niklas Hjalmarsson, the eventual winner from Vinnie Hinostroza and an empty net goal from Artemi Panarin — the Blackhawks turned a 4-3 deficit after 40 minutes into a 6-4 regulation win, giving Chicago a six-point cushion in the Central Division, and an eight-point lead over the Blues.

It’s another win for Scott Darling, who has been busy in net since Corey Crawford had his appendectomy earlier this month, but he did allow four goals against for a second consecutive start.

“When you play this much, just like any goalie, there’s going to be some games where you have some bad bounces or bad luck,” Darling told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“You’re not going to have shutouts every game. You just have to roll with it and be happy and grateful that we won. Put it in the rear-view mirror and get ready for the next one.”

The win came at a price. Chicago forward Artem Anisimov left the game after the first period with an injury.

Per Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago, Anisimov is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

As one would expect, there was some rough stuff in this game, too, as a large scrum broke out in front of Darling in the third period.