Author: Cam Tucker

Video: Atkinson fools Crawford on short-handed breakaway, records hat trick in win over Chicago

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Cam Atkinson recorded the hat trick for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, and his second goal of the evening was a beauty.

Sent in a short-handed breakaway, Atkinson completely fooled Blackhawks starter Corey Crawford with a move to the forehand, tucking the puck into a wide open net to give Columbus a 4-2 lead late in the first period. Crawford was pulled after that goal.

The Blue Jackets went to win by a final score of 5-2, with Atkinson scoring an empty net goal for his third of the evening. He’s now up to 19 goals on the season. His career high sits at 21, which is a total he recorded last season.

Running Wild: Flames fail to gain ground in playoff race after loss in Minnesota


There was no miraculous third-period comeback for the Calgary Flames. Only a third-period scoring outburst for the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild moved to 93 points, one back of the Chicago Blackhawks, who were in action Friday, for third in the Central Division after defeating the visiting Flames by a final score of 4-2. Contrary to what has become almost like their trademark, the Flames actually conceded three goals in the final 20 minutes and then couldn’t mount a comeback. It’s a blow to their playoff hopes.

Thomas Vanek gave Minnesota the lead earlier in the third period. And the Wild poured it on after that. Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise increased the lead to three goals. Game over, even if the Flames did get one back.

The Flames remain on the outside of the playoff picture for now, one point back of the L.A. Kings for third in the Pacific Division.

Karri Ramo accepts the loss for Calgary, but it’s hard to find fault in his play. The Flames had been living dangerously all game. The Wild had 28 shots on goal through two periods — Calgary had 15, so it was a bit lopsided in that department — but only one goal, with Ramo doing all he could to shut the door.

Report: Jagr’s agent, Panthers to begin talking contract extension


Could Jaromir Jagr be a fit with the Florida Panthers beyond just this season?

Jagr joined the Panthers in a deal with the New Jersey Devils just prior to the NHL’s trade deadline at the beginning of this month. Since then, he has nine points in 12 games with Florida, which finds itself in the hunt for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

At the age of 43, Jagr is a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

The Panthers seem to love what Jagr has brought to their team so far. Now, it appears the two sides will meet to discuss a contract extension, according to a report Friday.

Crawford pulled after allowing four goals in first period


Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford had a difficult first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

Crawford was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots, including a pair of breakaway goals for Columbus. At the time Crawford was yanked, the Blue Jackets had gained a 4-2 lead. Scott Darling entered the game for Chicago.

Panthers’ Bjugstad undergoes successful back surgery, will miss remainder of regular season


Nick Bjugstad, the leading goal scorer for the Florida Panthers, underwent successful back surgery on Friday, but will miss the remainder of the regular season, the club has announced.

In 72 games, Bjugstad, a towering 22-year-old center, scored a team-leading 24 goals. His 43 points were second on the team, behind only Jonathan Huberdeau.

In the short-term, it’s difficult news for the Panthers, who are fighting for a Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. They’re only three points back of the Ottawa Senators for the final Wild Card spot.

“After consulting with Nick and thoroughly evaluating the extent of his injury, we mutually felt it was important to have this procedure done as soon as possible,” said Panthers general manager Dale Tallon in a statement.

“Nick showed a tremendous amount of character over the past month, playing through an injury, while helping our club compete down the final stretch for a playoff spot. He will be closely monitored by our medical staff during his rehabilitation process and will be ready for the start of training camp in September.”