Cam Tucker

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The Buzzer: Vrbata records the hat trick; Quick shuts out Habs

Player of the night: Radim Vrbata

Radim Vrbata started the season by going eight games without a goal, but the Florida Panthers forward emphatically snapped that drought on Thursday, recording the hat trick in his team’s 8-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

A few hats and a few plastic rats littered the ice after Vrbata’s third goal, as he collected a loose puck and outwaited Reto Berra with a move to the forehand.

That’s the seventh hat trick of Vrbata’s career.

Highlight of the night:

Nikita Kucherov to Steven Stamkos. This goal is a thing of beauty.

Factoid of the night:

Jonathan Quick continued his strong start to the season in net for the L.A. Kings. He stopped all 40 shots he faced Thursday in a shutout victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens. Oh, and he did so in his 500th career NHL game.

“The guys all knew it was his 500th game, and I told the guys after the game that might be one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen,” said Kings coach John Stevens, per LA Kings Insider.

Scores:

Vancouver 6, Washington 2

Boston 2, San Jose 1

Carolina 6, Toronto 3

NY Rangers 5, Arizona 2

Pittsburgh 2, Winnipeg 1 (OT)

L.A. 4, Montreal 0

Ottawa 5, Philadelphia 4

Tampa Bay 3, Detroit 2

Florida 8, Anaheim 3

Minnesota 6, NY Islanders 4

Edmonton 5, Dallas 4

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

Mr. 300: Kessel’s milestone goal leads Penguins over Jets

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Phil Kessel‘s 300th career goal at 1:07 of overtime lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

Kessel, who also scored the overtime winner against Edmonton on Tuesday, became the 18th American-born player to reach 300 career goals and the second active behind Minnesota’s Zach Parise.

Kessel stripped Patrik Laine of the puck at his own blue line and went the other way on a breakaway. Kessel, with nine points in his last seven games, snapped a wrist shot between the pads of Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck for the winner.

Conor Sheary scored his fifth for the Penguins, who won for the fifth time in six games. Pittsburgh has won seven of nine since losing the first two games of the season.

Read more: Penguins defense is hurting heading into scary stretch

Pittsburgh also won its 17th straight home game against the Jets dating back to March 24, 2007. Overall, Pittsburgh won 17 of the last 20 meetings against the Jets, who last won in Pittsburgh, Dec. 27, 2006, when they were the Atlanta Thrashers.

Matt Murray won his seventh straight since allowing 11 goals on 65 shots in his first two appearances. Murray, who stopped 30 shots, helped Pittsburgh earn points in all eight starts this season.

Josh Morrissey scored his second for the Jets, who had won four of their previous five after being outscored 13-5 in the first two games of the season against Toronto and Calgary.

Hellebuyck, who made 34 saves, saw his four-game win streak end. He was seeking a personal best five-game streak and the team record for the longest win streak by a goaltender to begin the season.

Sheary opened the scoring 1:25 into the game when he re-directed Jake Guentzel‘s pass between Hellebuyck’s pads.

Morrissey tied it later in the period when his shot from the point caught the stick of Penguins’ D Kris Letang and went past Murray’s glove hand.

Murray kept the game tied entering the third period, first with a sharp blocker save on Nikolaj Ehlers before back-to-back stops on Tyler Myers and Laine. He stopped Myers on a breakaway and Laine during a two-on-one with Ehlers.

Laine tried again with a wrist shot 30 seconds into the third period, but Murray made the save and a follow-up pad stop on Kyle Connor.

 

Canucks chase Holtby from Capitals crease

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It hasn’t been a good start to this road trip for the Washington Capitals.

After losing 4-1 at home to the Florida Panthers on Saturday and four days to think about that result, the Capitals entered Vancouver and were completely outplayed through 40 minutes. The Canucks outshot the visitors 15-4 after the first period, opening up a 3-0 lead before increasing that to five goals late in the second period.

That meant the end of the night for Braden Holtby. He was chased after Vancouver’s fifth goal — a wraparound effort from Derek Dorsett, who now leads the Canucks with six goals — on its 22nd shot of the night.

The Capitals entered this game without Andre Burakovsky (out six to eight weeks with a thumb injury) and Nicklas Backstrom (illness).

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

The misery returns for Montreal as Habs lose to Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens had only a brief relief from their losing ways early in the season.

After an unexpected offensive outburst against the Florida Panthers two nights ago, ending a tumultuous seven-game losing streak fraught with frustration, the Habs found themselves back in the loss column courtesy a 4-0 defeat against the L.A. Kings.

The Kings continue to roll in the Western Conference. The Habs continue to fall in the East. And the tension seems to be growing, with general manager Marc Bergevin facing the heat for his moves and construction of this roster. On Thursday, Carey Price was apparently the latest to hear from the faithful.

Oh boy.

On Tuesday, the Habs were down and then came roaring back with three goals in under two minutes. That continued into the third period, as they put the game away on a night when Alex Galchenyuk, previously demoted to the fourth line, and their slumping captain Max Pacioretty busted their respective scoring droughts.

There was no repeat performance versus the Kings. Jonathan Quick made 40 saves to shut out a Habs team that has struggled so far through October to score goals, while Price gave up four goals on 28 shots.

“I told them the answer is in that room,” said Bergevin on Wednesday, per the Montreal Gazette. “Coaches are working every day, spending hours and we watch tapes. And we see where the breakdowns are and there’s the smallest breakdown and the puck’s in our net, and it affects the confidence. That’s not what people want to hear, but that’s reality. You can play with a bad foot or a bad hand, but with no confidence (you can’t win).”

A lack of confidence is not the only thing ailing this team.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

Video: Joe Thornton scores milestone goal against the Bruins

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Playing career game No. 1,455, Joe Thornton moved into the top 20 in all-time NHL scoring with a goal against the team that selected him first overall way back in 1997.

That is career point No. 1,398, which ties him with Jari Kurri and into the top 20. Next up on the list is Dale Hawerchuk at 1,409 points, so it’s a good bet Thornton moves up another spot within the next several weeks.

Seems like appropriate timing given the opponent.

The Bruins selected Thornton with the first pick in the 1997 NHL Draft. He played more than seven seasons in Boston before getting dealt to San Jose during the 2005-06 campaign.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.