Cam Tucker

Video: Condon denies Richards with behind-the-back blocker save

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It wasn’t conventional. But, in this particular case, Mike Condon probably isn’t too concerned with technique.

The Montreal Canadiens goalie made an unbelievable save late in the second period against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

In pure desperation, Condon reached behind his back with the blocker to knock the puck out of the air on a Mike Richards shot near the side of the net.

At the time, that save maintained Montreal’s three-goal lead over the Capitals.

The Habs hung on for the 4-3 victory.

Video: Pastrnak penalty shot goal makes Bruins history

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David Pastrnak gave the Boston Bruins a 1-0 lead in the first period of Wednesday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, making franchise history in the process.

Late in the first period, Pastrnak beat Marc-Andre Fleury in the one-on-one opportunity with a low shot to open the scoring.

That gave Pastrnak seven goals on the season.

Pastrnak scored again in the second period, giving him eight goals on the season. That put Boston up 2-0, before Tom Kuhnhackl cut the lead in half with a goal for Pittsburgh 55 seconds later in the middle frame.

‘Halak came up huge’ in shutout win over Devils

New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas, left, celebrates with goalie Jaroslav Halak, of Slovakia, after they defeated the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in an NHL hockey game, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Newark, N.J. Cizikas scored the lone goal and Halak recorded the save. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A lucky carom on an early goal by a fourth-line center and a bounce-back effort by Jaroslav Halak in goal were all the New York Islanders needed to get a much-needed win over the New Jersey Devils.

Casey Cizikas scored on a rebound off his leg early and a struggling Halak had 27 saves to lead the Islanders to a 1-0 victory over New Jersey on Friday night in the opener of a season-long, seven-game trip.

The Islanders are in third place in the Metropolitan Division, four points ahead of the fifth-place Devils with two games in hand.

“To win this game gives us a little bit of room,” said Halak, who was 1-4 in his last five games. “But any night from now on is going to be like this. We just need to keep playing well and keep picking up points.”

Halak was outstanding and had a little help from the post while getting his third shutout. Reid Boucher‘s 1-on-1 chance in the first period hit iron, but Halak also made great saves in close against Sergey Kalinin, Kyle Palmieri and Lee Stempniak, the last one a pad save early in the third period when the Devils’ forward had a seemingly open net.

“Halak came up huge for us tonight,” Cizikas said. “He had the big save I think on Stempniak in the third period. He basically kept us in the game. He made some huge saves when we needed him to and I thought we played a good game tonight.”

The win was the Islanders third in four games (3-0-1) with the Devils this season, and New York really shut things down in the third period, limiting the Devils to seven shots.

Cory Schneider made 23 saves and the Devils lost their second straight.

Defenseman Adam Larsson and center Jacob Josefson had the last two in the closing 2 minutes, when New Jersey killed off a penalty to Adam Henrique.

“Obviously after the last start I wasn’t feeling great, but you just have to forget about it,” said Halak, who gave up six goals in 40 minutes at Carolina last Saturday night. “There is nothing you can do about the past. The game in Carolina wasn’t the greatest by me or anybody. But it happens in hockey and it’s how you react the next game, how you rebound.”

Coming off an overtime loss to the Capitals on Thursday night, the Islanders needed less than 2 minutes take the lead.

Defenseman Nick Leddy, who had a goal and nine assists in his previous 10 games, took a shot from the left circle on a counterattack. The puck rebounded in front between the circles, banked off Cizikas’ pants and fluttered into the net for his sixth goal.

“It went off my pant leg,” Cizikas said. “I didn’t try to kick it or anything like that. I was just trying to go hard to the nets and Leds made a really good play by just throwing it on net and trying to create a rebound. I was lucky enough for it to go off me and in.”

The goal was upheld after a review.

“I couldn’t get a bead on it,” Schneider said.

New York had a chance to break the game open in the final 5 minutes of the second period when Devils forward Jordin Tootoo drew a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for cross-checking defenseman Johnny Boychuk behind the Islanders net.

Boychuk returned for the third period.

The Devils, however, were outstanding on the penalty kill and limited New York to a long shot by John Tavares, leaving them only a goal behind entering the third period.

The loss was tough for the Devils, who have to travel to Washington to play the Capitals on Saturday. New Jersey is now 8-4-2 in its last 14.

“We played a good game,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We’re happy with the commitment level we play with and how we play but we have to find a better way to put the puck in the net.”

NOTES: The Devils placed F Stefan Matteau (facial fracture) on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 12. … The Islanders won’t play again until Tuesday night in Minnesota. … Devils D Jon Merrill returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with an arm injury. … Islanders D Calvin de Haan missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. … Devils captain Andy Greene played in his 288th consecutive game and tied Aaron Broten for the team’s sixth longest streak.

Skinner! Hurricanes defeat Sharks to storm closer to East Wild Card spot

Carolina Hurricanes v Colorado Avalanche
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Jeff Skinner scored the key goals and Eric Staal finally got a point again. They helped the Carolina Hurricanes keep pushing for a playoff spot.

Skinner scored twice in the third period and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2 on Friday night.

Chris Terry and Joakim Nordstrom also scored, and Jordan Staal added an empty-netter.

The Hurricanes began the day four points outside of a wild-card spot and bounced back from a 4-2 loss at Ottawa on Thursday night. They haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation in more than two months.

“We’re fighting and scratching to pick up points,” said a relieved Eric Staal, who went seven games without a point before assisting on Skinner’s first goal.

“This is a fun time of year to be involved and to be playing,” he added. “We’re in the mix. We’ve put ourselves in that (position) and we’ve got to fight, we’ve got to win and we’ve got to pick up points every night.”

Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl scored for San Jose, which has the league’s second-best road record. The Sharks had won three straight and were 4-0-1 in their last five games.

“We’ve been consistently good for a long time,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “You’re going to have those once in a while. It’s how we respond to it. I think we just have to throw it away and get ready for the next one.”

Cam Ward was back in the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury and made 22 saves for the Hurricanes, prompting coach Bill Peters to say “we’re going to ride a guy and it’ll be Cam.”

Martin Jones stopped 32 shots for the Sharks.

The biggest goals of this one belonged to Skinner.

He made it 3-1 just 39 seconds into the third period with a score that initially was waved off. Skinner pushed in the rebound of Eric Staal’s shot inside the right post but the officials disallowed it, saying there was incidental contact on Jones. Peters challenged and after a 2-minute review, that on-ice call was reversed.

That score became even more significant after Patrick Marleau cashed in on Ward’s misplay behind the net, feeding Hertl for an easy goal to pull within 4-2 with 9:22 left.

Skinner then restored Carolina’s two-goal lead with 4:28 left with a hard shot from the slot and Staal tacked on his empty-netter with 2:25 left.

That helped the Hurricanes improve to 19-9-6 in their last 35 games after a miserable start to the season. They haven’t lost back-to-back games in regulation since Dec. 3, and now face some big decisions before the trade deadline Feb. 29.

“It’s a big time of year,” Skinner said. “It seems like every game you come to the rink, those two points are big.”

Carolina went up 2-1 when Nordstrom beat Jones with a blast from behind the circles with 7:35 left in the second off a smooth pass from Jordan Staal.

That came after Carolina scored first at 7:03 when Noah Hanifin uncorked a shot from the corner point and Terry deflected it past Jones with his stick waist high. Burns tied it at 14:07 with a shot from the slot.

“They took the game over” in the second, DeBoer said. “We didn’t have an answer. We pretty much got what we deserved.”

NOTES: Jordan Staal has points in 11 of his last 14 games, including four straight, and has 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in that span. … Hurricanes C Riley Nash, who assisted on Terry’s goal, has five points in four games. … San Jose C Tommy Wingels (upper body) was scratched.

 

Canucks make NHL history … with fourth straight 5-2 loss

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames
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It started Saturday with a no-show against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Six days later, the Vancouver Canucks made National Hockey League history.

But this isn’t something the Canucks will be proud of, with head coach Willie Desjardins on the hot seat, the playoffs well out of their reach and the prospect of selling at the trade deadline looking more like it will soon be reality.

For a fourth straight game, the beleaguered Canucks lost by a final score of 5-2, this time to the Calgary Flames on Friday, securing their place in the record books.

The Canucks actually grabbed a 2-1 lead after the first period on goals from Adam Cracknell and rookie Jake Virtanen, who snapped a perfect wrist shot from the slot over the glove of Jonas Hiller.

It went downhill from there.

Calgary scored three in the second period to re-take the lead and Josh Jooris scored the goal that put the Canucks into the annals of defeat in the third period.