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Breaking down how other teams are faring after mid-season coaching changes

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The Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey world Tuesday, when they announced they had fired Michel Therrien and hired Claude Julien to take over the head coaching duties.

The decision comes with the Habs leading the Atlantic Division but struggling with one win so far this month, and exactly one week after the Bruins fired Julien, the 2009 coach of the year and 2011 Stanley Cup champion.

Therrien becomes the fifth NHL coach fired this season. For three of the four teams that had previously made mid-season coaching changes, wins suddenly followed in the aftermath, although the sample sizes are smaller in those cases. Keep in mind that just because a team has instant success after a coaching change doesn’t mean it will be sustained for a longer period of time, or that a change is the sole reason for a sudden uptick in wins.

Here is a breakdown of how the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins have fared since making their coaching changes.

Gerard Gallant fired, Tom Rowe takes over as interim coach:

The Panthers have gone 13-11-9 since Rowe took over from Gallant in certainly one of the more controversial firings of the season. Contrary to later case studies around the league, the Panthers won only once in their first six games with Rowe as the interim coach. Florida is five points back in the wild card race, but while there was a change behind the bench, the Panthers have been beset by injuries to a number of players, including their best young forwards in Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov for lengthy periods of time.

Islanders fire Jack Capuano, who is replaced by assistant coach Doug Weight:

Despite a “humbling loss” to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, the New York Islanders have vaulted themselves right into the Eastern Conference playoff race, going 8-2-2 since Weight took over for Capuano on Jan. 17. They’re one of the hottest teams over the last month, with the sixth best goals-for total in that span. Prior to the change, they were middle of the pack in league scoring, while 18th in the league in goals-against. The Islanders had underwhelmed through three-and-a-half months this season under Capuano but could be an intriguing comeback story in the East if they can qualify for the playoffs. The more pressing concerns for the franchise appear to be away from the ice: Arena issues in Brooklyn, more scrutiny on management, and the John Tavares contract situation.

Blues fire Ken Hitchcock, Mike Yeo takes over:

Yeo was going to take over from Hitchcock for next season, but the succession plan was accelerated with the Blues barely holding on to a playoff spot in the West. On Feb. 1, general manager Doug Armstrong made the move to relieve Hitchcock of his duties and replace him sooner than expected with Yeo. Since the coaching change, the Blues have won five of six games to move back into third in the Central Division. Goaltender Jake Allen, who did not accompany the team on a road trip last month because of his struggles, has been stellar since Yeo took over. Only once in the last five games has he given up three goals or more in a single game, and that was against a very dangerous Pittsburgh team.

Bruins fire Julien, Bruce Cassidy takes over coaching duties:

It’s only been one week, but the Bruins have since gone on a three-game winning streak since Cassidy took over from Julien. It’s certainly a nice way to go into a bye week at this point in the season. But really, the Bruins had been getting decent results even before the change, with a three-game winning streak toward the end of the Julien era in Boston. Leading the league in puck possession at five-on-five, the puck has actually starting going in the net with a little more regularity for the Bruins. With the change came plenty of questions for management, which has admitted this is a roster that still needs help.

Meanwhile, back in Montreal . . .

There is no doubt the Habs wanted Julien to take over and help shake things up in Montreal. They had a terrific start to the season but have dropped off since then, now in a fight with Ottawa, Boston and even Toronto for the division as the schedule soon enters the stretch run. Perhaps this will give the Canadiens an instant jolt.

This was a bold move. It remains to be seen if GM Marc Bergevin has another ace up his sleeve for the trade deadline.

Patrik Laine comes to the rescue as Jets snap four-game losing skid

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This could’ve been a completely demoralizing home stand for the Winnipeg Jets.

With three losses in four games, it’s still highly disappointing given their plight in the Western Conference, yet they were able to salvage at least one win before jetting out onto the road for four games. And they can thank an 18-year-old rookie scoring sensation for giving them a critical win over the struggling Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

Patrik Laine recorded the hat trick, his second goal of the game breaking a 2-2 deadlock late in the third period.

The Stars fought back to tie the game in the second period, before Laine, the second overall pick last June, did his thing with a pair of goals in the final 5:07 of regulation in a 5-2 Winnipeg win.

The winning goal? That’s an insane display of quick hands, as he stole the puck away from Dan Hamhuis and then, seemingly in one motion, fires a quick wrist shot over the left shoulder of Antti Niemi.

“We need a guy like that to step up and that’s something we’ve missed here in the past,” Blake Wheeler told the Winnipeg Sun. “Without a guy like that in the room, it’s typically a 2-2 game heading into overtime. That was pretty special.”

Per Sportsnet: Laine is the first NHL rookie with three hat tricks in a season since Teemu Selanne and Eric Lindros in 1992-1993. (Selanne, of course, famously achieved that feat while playing in Winnipeg.)

The Jets had lost four straight. Their playoff hopes are still bleak, improving only slightly following their win over the Stars. They’re only four points back of L.A. for the final wild card spot. The loss is another devastating one for Dallas, which is six points back of the Kings and facing an increasingly grim reality heading into the trade deadline.

Laine and Auston Matthews, meanwhile, continue to go toe-to-toe in the rookie goal scoring race.

Matthews scored twice versus the Islanders, bringing his total to 27 goals (and 46 points). Laine, with his hat trick, is up to 26 goals and 47 points.

Maple Leafs hand Islanders a ‘humbling loss’ in wild card race

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A regulation win would’ve put the New York Islanders into a wild card spot — at least for now.

They had been achieving far better results of late, getting them back into the playoff fight. But instead of leapfrogging teams into the final wild card position, they suffered a 7-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, which gives Toronto three points of separation from the Islanders in the Eastern Conference standings.

“As much as it’s just one loss, that’s a humbling loss, that’s [a butt] kicking, I’m sorry,”said Islanders coach Doug Weight, per NHL.com.

“They played a playoff game tonight; we played a hard game but we didn’t play a playoff game. That’s virtually what it was, right? We win, we’re in the playoffs as far as statistically speaking.”

That’s a big win, too, for a young Maple Leafs team that certainly has a strong chance of making the playoffs with fewer than 30 games remaining in its schedule. But as Toronto chases its post-season aspirations, the club had been up and down with its results of late, winning four times in the last 10 games.

Once again, they received contributions from their cast of youthful talent. Auston Matthews scored twice. He now has 27 goals in his rookie campaign. William Nylander notched Toronto’s third goal of the game and his 15th of the season.

It’s been a while — well over 30 years — since the Maple Leafs had this kind of scoring prowess among their rookie class, which also includes Mitch Marner.

Frederik Andersen recorded career win No. 100, stopping all but one of the 34 shots the Islanders sent his way Tuesday.

“I thought Freddie made some real good saves. The better the goalie plays, the more you settle down and the more you dial in,” said coach Mike Babcock. “We scored timely goals, and then it got to be a real good situation for us because most games in this league you’re grinding right till the bitter end.”

Two days after ripping his team, Lehner backs up his words in win over Sens

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Robin Lehner made 39 saves against his former team and Matt Moulson and Justin Bailey scored in the third period to rally the Buffalo Sabres past the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Lehner is 4-0-2 against the club that drafted him in the second round of the 2009 NHL draft. He was traded away with David Legwand in June 2015 to Buffalo for the 21st overall pick in that year’s draft.

Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Sabres.

Bobby Ryan ended a five-game run without a point by getting a goal and an assist for Ottawa. Dion Phaneuf also scored, and Craig Anderson made 22 saves.

After a solid start to the third period, Buffalo kept pushing and was rewarded when Bailey tipped Jake McCabe‘s point shot to take a 3-2 lead at 7:38.

Read more: Lehner rips Sabres after loss to Canucks

The Sabres tied it 51 seconds into the third when Moulson picked up a puck at the side of the net and put it over Anderson’s back.

Coming into the game, Buffalo had given up 62 second-period goals, third worst in the league. Tuesday night was no different as the Sabres were outshot 16-7.

Ottawa made it 63 when Phaneuf jumped on a soft rebound and put the puck past Lehner to give the Senators a 2-1 lead.

The Sabres opened the scoring on their first shot when O’Reilly used Phaneuf as a screen and beat Anderson low glove side. The Senators tied it at the 14-minute mark of the period when Ryan tipped Erik Karlsson‘s shot from the point.

This was the fifth and final meeting between the two teams, with Buffalo going 4-0-1.

Related: Fiery Lehner won’t apologize for being fiery

Video: Ducks’ Vermette ejected for abuse of official versus Wild

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Antoine Vermette could be facing further discipline from the league after he was ejected for abuse of an official during Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

The incident occurred in the third period immediately following a faceoff. Video replays show the 34-year-old Vermette taking a swipe at linesman Shandor Alphonso with his stick after losing a draw in the neutral zone.

There has already been a suspension for an abuse of an official infraction this season. Anthony DeAngelo of the Arizona Coyotes was banned three games — without pay — for an incident following a fight.

From the Orange County Register:

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Vermette reacted to not being ready for Alphonso dropping the puck and that the veteran forward wasn’t vicious or had malice in striking him. But he added, “He touched the official. What are you going to do?”

“To me, these are things that the league reviews,” Carlyle continued. “We have a view on it; they have a view on it. Whatever they decide, we have to live with.”

The league’s rule book lists three categories for an automatic suspension in the event of an abuse of official penalty, adding that, following the game in which the game misconduct is given, it is up to the referee and linesman to determine the category of the infraction.

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