Cam Tucker


Another frustrating loss for the Panthers, who still haven’t won three in a row this season

The Florida Panthers had a shot on Friday for a third consecutive win. They could’ve inched closer to the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

On home ice, however, they surrendered a hat trick to John Tavares and lost 5-2 to the New York Islanders, who also outshot the Panthers 42-29 overall. More concerning was how the visitors were able to take over in the puck possession game in the final period.

Injuries to key players have piled up all season for the Panthers. It certainly hurts when your two best forwards, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, spend prolonged periods of time out of the lineup because of injury.

But frustration about consistency, or the lack of, has been growing for the Panthers.

Still, a three-game winning streak continues to elude the Panthers, per the Sun Sentinel.

“It was a rough game all around,” said Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo. “We came out flat. We weren’t ready to play as a team, myself included. They were hungrier. They got called out by their coach … and the bottom line is they wanted it more. They were in the lead in the third and they kept coming. It’s frustrating. You think we’re making good strikes on the road, we come home and play like that.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier.

They welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team fighting for top spot in the Metropolitan Division, on Saturday. Next week, it’s a trip to Western Canada for three games (versus the Flames, Oilers and Canucks) in four nights.

Well, that was a disastrous period for the struggling Jets


A decent start for the Winnipeg Jets quickly dissolved into a disastrous first period against the lowly Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Shawn Matthias opened the scoring just 3:43 into the first period. And then it all fell apart after that for Winnipeg.

The Coyotes scored four goals in the span of just under 10 minutes, taking a 4-1 lead and chasing Connor Hellebuyck from the Jets net after he allowed three goals on just six shots.

A 4-1 deficit after 20 minutes is bad enough. Making matters worse: It comes against the Coyotes, who are 12-22-6 this season. They’re in a rebuild and have one win in their last 10 games.

But this display from the Jets comes after head coach Paul Maurice used some colorful language to describe his team’s play in a loss to Montreal earlier this week. This certainly isn’t a good response.

Meanwhile, rookie scoring machine Patrik Laine didn’t travel with the Jets due to a concussion.

Despite their struggles, the Jets are three points out of a playoff spot in the West.

Great Eight: Capitals crush Blackhawks to extend winning streak


We’re now two weeks into 2017 and the Washington Capitals have yet to lose in the new year.

They’ve now won eight consecutive games following a 6-0 victory over the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The Capitals got off to a quick start, opening up a three-goal lead in the first 20 minutes of the game.

That was all they really needed. They eventually chased Corey Crawford from the Blackhawks crease in the third period.

That, at least for a brief period in the evening, put the Capitals into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

They’ve been gathering strength for a while now, but they’ve put together quite a streak here, highlighted by wins over some of the other top teams in the National Hockey League.

They defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets eight days ago, ending that club’s remarkable 16-game winning streak and its subsequent shot at history, before turfing the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago this week.

Those opponents present a difficult stretch of games. The Capitals, however, seemed to thrive. A sample of their recent work:

— January 5th vs. Columbus: 5-0 win.

— January 7th vs. Ottawa: 1-0 win.

— January 9th vs. Montreal: 4-1 win.

— January 11th vs. Pittsburgh: 5-2 win.

— January 13th vs. Chicago: 6-0 win.

Braden Holtby recorded the shut out, his third in his last five games.

The top tier of teams in the Metropolitan have played some exceptional hockey to this point in the season. The Capitals are just the latest. It should make for a tremendous drive to the playoffs over these next few months.

Simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough for the Capitals. They will be held to a higher standard and whether they will get over that threshold is something we’ll find out later this spring.

For a while now, though, they’ve held quite a decisive edge on the score board over some very formidable teams.

Video: Capitals put the Blackhawks against the ropes early in search for eighth straight win

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Fresh off Alex Ovechkin‘s milestone career achievement, the Washington Capitals entered Friday’s game in search of their eighth straight win.

The Chicago Blackhawks were looking for five straight wins.

Something had to give. The Capitals came flying out of the gate on home ice, gathering a three-goal lead in a first period dominated by the hosts. Jay Beagle and Nicklas Backstrom scored just 13 seconds apart, as Washington took a 2-0 lead. Brett Connolly rounded out the scoring in the first period, as the Capitals outshot the Blackhawks 14-5.

Obviously not a great start for the Blackhawks. They were better to begin the second period, with a goal being called back after a successful coach’s challenge for goalie interference.


‘It’s such a great story’ — Lightning retire Martin St. Louis’ jersey to the rafters

Martin St. Louis was never the biggest player on the ice. Far from it.

But he had a tremendous impact on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and on Friday the Bolts retired his No. 26 jersey to the rafters at Amalie Arena.

The most decorated player in that franchise’s history — the Lightning record holder in assists with 588 and in points with 953 — St. Louis was an integral member of the 2004 team that captured the Stanley Cup. He scored the overtime winner in Game 6 versus Calgary, sending the championship series to a decisive seventh game, which Tampa Bay won on home ice.

“He was, he still is, and he forever will be the heart and soul of this organization,” said Steven Stamkos during the retirement ceremony, per the Lightning.

Listed at five-foot-eight-inches tall, St. Louis defied the odds and proved all his doubters wrong, not only by the longevity of his career but the brilliance and talent he brought to the game.

Not only did he win a championship with the Lightning, but he posted 1,033 points in 1,134 regular season games throughout his career. As former Bolts head coach John Tortorella said Friday, St. Louis had a “chip on his shoulder down to his ankle.”

“I need to make something perfectly clear — and I want his kids to know this, too: Marty was a pain in the ass to coach,” said Tortorella, now with the Blue Jackets, the opposition for Tampa Bay on Friday.

“He was stubborn. He was convicted. He had questions upon questions … about trying to find a better way to do it, find a better way to beat that team, to beat that opponent, that player. He’s a man that has been told ‘No’ so many times early in his career. ‘No, you’re not good enough.’ ‘No, you’re too small.’

“It’s such a great story. Such a great story for all walks of life to delve into when you have a dream. Not just in hockey … but in all walks of life, read what happened with him, how he went about his business, and it is just unbelievable.”

In his speech, St. Louis called his time in Tampa Bay “some of the best years of my life.” He addressed his teammates, both from the 2004 team and those still playing for the Lightning like Stamkos and Victor Hedman.

He got emotional speaking about his late mother, before the crowd gave him a rousing cheer.

The ceremony concluded with St. Louis and his family watching as his jersey went into the rafters — the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired.

“I will always be a Bolt,” he said.