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

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.

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    Video: Joe Thornton ejected for spearing Stastny

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    Another game tonight, and another major penalty assessed.

    San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton was tossed during the second period after he speared St. Louis Blues forward Paul Stastny away from the puck. Thornton was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for the incident.

    At the end of December, Thornton was penalized for a vicious two-handed slash on Derek Forbort of the L.A. Kings.

    There’s been a few notable major penalties from today’s schedule of games.

    Andrew Shaw was penalized for a late, blindside hit on Jesper Fast in the Habs-Rangers game. Prior to that, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was given a major penalty for boarding Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

    Video: Antti Niemi given the hook after awful start tonight for Stars

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    Antti Niemi got the start for the Dallas Stars on Saturday. He didn’t even make it past the five-minute mark before getting the hook.

    Niemi allowed three goals on three shots against the Minnesota Wild. In 4:01 of ice time. It didn’t take long for Lindy Ruff to get him out of the net, having seen enough. By that time, the damage had pretty much been done.

    The Stars fell behind four goals before the game was 13 minutes old. They did manage to come back and tie the game in the third period, only to give up the go-ahead goal to Jason Zucker just two minutes later. In the end, Dallas, a team chasing a Wild Card spot in the West, lost 5-4 in regulation.

    It’s easy to pile on the Stars for their goaltending issues. They have been covered extensively (click here, here and here) on PHT. Niemi has a save percentage of .907 and Lehtonen just .898 this season.

    As a team, Dallas is in the bottom half of the league in scoring. Dallas is also among the worst teams defensively. And the Stars, a team that has been plagued by injuries, have been wildly inconsistent throughout this season.

    From the Dallas Morning News:

    The result is the Stars slip to .500 for the 15th time this season. Dallas is 18-18-8, still in the pack of six teams battling for the two playoff wildcard spots in the Western Conference, but making no real statement with their play.

    “I think you have to say it has to be,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said when asked if the .500 run was indicative of the season. “It was good to see there was no quit. That could have been an ugly game, but coming out in the second the way we did was good to see. But we creep a little bit above and then lose a tough one. We haven’t been able to push through and put a string of games together.”

    The Stars are three points out of a playoff spot.

    Quick-strike offense: Habs rally with three goals in 62 seconds to beat Rangers

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    MONTREAL (AP) Alexei Emelin, Max Pacioretty and Paul Byron scored in a 62-second span of the third period to lift the Montreal Canadiens over the New York Rangers 5-4 on Saturday night.

    Alex Galchenyuk scored in his return after injuring his knee Dec. 4, and Brian Flynn also had a goal for Montreal.

    Brandon Pirri, Rick Nash, J.T. Miler and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers, who were coming off a 4-2 loss at home to Toronto on Friday night. It was the first time in eight occasions New York failed to win the second of back-to-back games this season. It also ended a four-game winning run in road games.

    The Rangers’ Antti Raanta played for the first time since Dec. 29 but left in the first period with a lower-body injury after stopping 10 of 10 shots. Henrik Lundqvist replaced him and allowed five goals on 22 shots a night after losing to the Maple Leafs.

    Emelin’s wrist shot from the left point went in off defenseman Adam Clendening‘s back 10:53 into the third frame. Pacioretty then got his 20th of the season on a breakaway only 36 seconds later and, only 26 seconds after that, Byron backhanded the puck in front, and it went in off Clendening’s stick.

    New York got one back at 14:53 when Mats Zuccarello tipped the puck out and Stepan batted it in out of the air at the side of the net.

    Montreal had Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw back from injuries, but Shaw’s game lasted only 16:56 before he was tossed. Shaw’s interference penalty nullified a Montreal goal at 4:00, and then he knocked Jesper Fast over with an open ice-hit and fought Miller, drawing an interference major, a fighting major and a game misconduct. Fast was shaken up but stayed in the game.

    The Rangers needed only four seconds into a power play to get the opening goal when Pirri wired a shot off a goalpost and in at 12:24 of the first period.

    Galchenyuk scored 3:08 into the second with a deflection of Mark Barberio‘s point shot, but Nash got it back on a disputed goal at 6:20.

    Carey Price made a brilliant save on Kevin Hayes‘ breakaway, but then Hayes got a skate caught in Price’s pads. Hayes appeared to pull Price out of the crease, allowing Nash to score into an empty net. After video review, it was ruled a good goal, and the sellout Bell Centre crowd booed long and loud.

    Montreal got it back at 7:58 when Flynn scored from a scramble in front of Lundqvist, but Miller put New York back ahead when he finished a short-handed 2-on-1 with Hayes after Galchenyuk lost the puck on the right point. It marked the seventh time in eight games that Price has allowed three or more goals.

    Storming into the playoff race: Hurricanes win fourth straight

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    Here come the Hurricanes.

    On Saturday, Carolina won its fourth consecutive game, defeating the New York Islanders 7-4. The Hurricanes had seven different goal scorers, capping off a four-game sweep on this home stand.

    The Sabres and Islanders represent two clubs the surging Hurricanes need to exploit at this point in the season. They managed 12 goals in two games in a back-to-back situation, and this recent run of wins has Carolina knocking on the door of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

    The Hurricanes sit a single point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second Wild Card spot.

    The Hurricanes had a slow start to their season. Playing a bulk of their early games on the road didn’t help. But, one of the top puck possession teams in the league at even strength, they’re making a move in the standings.

    Jeff Skinner is having a great season for Carolina. They got contributions from many others Saturday. Brock McGinn had a four-point night and three other players — Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Lee Stempniak — had three-point performances.

    This point was made earlier this week at PHT, but the Hurricanes have been dominant on home ice, and that continued versus the Islanders.

    “I think at home … it seems we’re playing a pretty complete game. We don’t give much up. Tonight, early on, we did and I thought we tightened things up,” said Stempniak. “Our strength lies in our skating and it seems like at home we find our legs and skate offensively.”