Cam Tucker

at Honda Center on January 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.
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Red-hot Ducks inch closer to top spot in Pacific Division


The surge continues for the Anaheim Ducks.

They’re on the verge of finishing off a seven-game road trip with four consecutive wins and the prospect of overtaking the L.A. Kings for the Pacific Division lead is a real possibility after Tuesday’s results.

The Kings lost in Washington, while the Ducks defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a final score of 5-3 for their third consecutive win. One of those wins was against a playoff team in Chicago, while the others were against Calgary and Edmonton.

Up next for the Ducks? The struggling Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

From poor efforts in the last two games, to heightened criticism surrounding head coach Willie Desjardins, to reports of conflicting philosophies between ownership and management about whether they should sell at the deadline and go into full-on rebuild mode or strive for the playoffs, the Canucks are rife with controversy.

Oh, and they’ve lost five in a row at home.

So it’s definitely possible the Ducks finish this trip off on a winning note.

The Ducks had their own share of controversy prior to the Christmas break, as they failed in the first three months to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon them at the start of the season.

Now, they’re three points back of the Kings.

Capitals best Kings in what ‘felt like a playoff game’

Los Angeles Kings v Washington Capitals
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It’s the middle of February and the playoffs are still two months away.

But a clash between the Washington Capitals, the top team in the NHL’s overall standings, and the L.A. Kings, a Stanley Cup champion in two of the last four years and the top puck possession team at even strength, had a certain spring feel to it. A preview of things to come in June? That might be too early and too strong a statement for right now.

But a measuring stick match-up between two teams capable of doing damage in the post-season?

That’s fair.

In the end, the Capitals came away victorious with a 3-1 decision, bolstered by a late goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.

“If we get to the Stanley Cup final there is a good chance they will be there too. We were excited to play this team and excited to hopefully win this game,” said Drew Doughty, as per LA Kings Insider.

“I thought we played OK, but bottom line is we have to score goals and we have to win games, and right now we are not.”

The Capitals move six points up on Dallas for the No. 1 spot in the overall standings. And they still lead the league with 3.29 goals-for per game. And they took care of a stern test against the Kings on Tuesday, in a match-up the Capitals had also been looking forward to.

“We were kind of excited to play against these guys,” Andre Burakovsky told CSN Mid-Atlantic.

“They already got two Cups and we’ve got none. We’re trying to be the best team in the league and if we want to be the best we have to take out the best. It felt like a playoff game. It was a fast game and we battled it through and had a big two points.”




Blues keep Stars in sight with OT win

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The St. Louis Blues have kept the top two teams in the Central Division within reach courtesy an overtime victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

Kevin Shattenkirk scored the overtime winner to give the Blues a 2-1 win. The Stars still earn the single point to take over top spot in the Central from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues, meanwhile, are five points back, as all three of those teams have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack in that division heading into the stretch run.

For the longest time, it looked like a strange goal from Jaden Schwartz would stand up as the winner.

Schwartz was in the right spot at the right time as the puck careened in the corner and popped right to Schwartz in front of the Dallas net. As Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen scrambled to get back to his crease, the Blues forward tapped the puck into the wide open net to open the scoring early in the second period.

The Stars finally got on the board late in the third period on a goal from Mattias Janmark, who scored with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation.

Welcome Mikkel Boedker to the trade rumor mill

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With the NHL’s trade deadline less than two weeks away, Arizona Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker‘s name has gained increasing traction as a potential rental target.

Boedker, 26, has spent his entire career with the Coyotes but his current one-year contract — which comes with a cap hit of $3.75 million, as per General Fanager — is set to expire at the end of this season, when he would become an unrestricted free agent.

During TSN’s Insider Trading, Bob McKenzie reported the Coyotes are “aggressively evaluating the trade market value” for Boedker, who has 13 goals and 37 points in 56 games with Arizona this season.

McKenzie also put it out there that Boedker in free agency could get a deal somewhere in the area of five years, at $5 million per season, which would signify a hefty raise to go with term.

From ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

Up front, I think a guy who would be a terrific add-on for the Penguins is winger Mikkel Boedker, should he not re-sign with the Arizona Coyotes. His speed would be a nice complement to that top-six group in Pittsburgh. Again, there will be competition for the skilled 26-year-old Boedker, so perhaps too rich for the Penguins, but we shall see.

With his current deal set to expire at season’s end, Boedker and the Coyotes were expected to start contract talks in January, representing their first such discussions since the two sides agreed to a one-year, $3.75 million deal last summer.

Both sides were able to avoid arbitration at the time, but it was reported in August that, according to agent Jarret Bousquet, among the reasons Boedker was hesitant to sign with the Coyotes long-term was the uncertainty of the team’s future in Glendale.


Video: A perfect 10! Devils’ Blandisi called for embellishment


The judges’ scores are in.

New Jersey Devils’ 21-year-old rookie forward Joseph Blandisi was assessed a minor penalty for embellishment for a rather obvious dive — he jumped into the air then fell to the ice after being slashed in the back of the leg — in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Andrew MacDonald was called for the two-handed slash to Blandisi, who then dramatically threw out his arms and fell to the ice.

For the first offence, a player receives a warning from the league before additional fines are issued to repeat offenders. The fines increase the more citations a player records.