Cam Tucker

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‘A step in the right direction’ — Habs crush Panthers to snap losing skid

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Where did that come from?

The Montreal Canadiens had been badly slumping heading into Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Their general manager Marc Bergevin was on the hot seat so early in the season, as the roster he’s assembled had won its opener and then lost seven straight games, a streak that hit a low point during a stretch through California.

One victory after such a bad stretch of hockey may not be enough to instantly quell that.

The Habs were able to snap that losing skid on Tuesday, crushing the Panthers by a score of 5-1. This, however, should put into perspective just how bad the Canadiens were while up against the Ducks, Kings and Sharks last week. So bad that on one Anaheim goal, Carey Price finally had enough and took his frustrations out on the goal post with his goalie stick.

At least for one night, the Habs were able to shed all the frustration from this recent losing streak. It didn’t start right away. The Panthers took the lead early in the second period.

But then, suddenly, the floodgates opened for the Habs late in the second period.

Alex Galchenyuk, who was demoted to the fourth line this week, started the rally by driving hard to the net to bury a rebound. Shea Weber followed that up with one of those freakish Shea Weber slap shots, giving Montreal the lead. Brendan Gallagher followed that up just 17 seconds later. Just like that, Montreal had scored three goals in 1:35 to take the lead.

Weber and the slumping Max Pacioretty secured the win with quick goals in the third period.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but we can’t step back,” Weber told NHL.com. “We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas and we’ve got to keep getting better.”

Easier said than done.

They host the L.A. Kings on Thursday. The Kings will enter that game with a 7-1-1 record, which puts them second in the overall standings right now behind only Tampa Bay.

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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 Buzzer: Tavares records hat trick; Mike Smith’s milestone night

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Player of the night: John Tavares

John Tavares has bid farewell to his scoring drought, which saw him go five games without a point from Oct. 9-19. On Tuesday, the Islanders captain recorded the hat trick, including the winning goal late in the third period, to help give his team a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are now nine games into the season and still do not have a win.

The Islanders and Coyotes traded five goals between them during the third period, but Tavares put his team up for good on a nifty deflection to the side of Louis Domingue.

Tavares now has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last two games. What slump, right?

Honorable mention goes to Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Nieto, who also recorded the hat trick tonight against the Dallas Stars.

Highlight of the night:

Matt Murray, everyone.

The Penguins goalie denied Oilers forward Mark Letestu with an unbelievable stick save during the second period of Tuesday’s game, which Pittsburgh won in overtime. Words really don’t do it justice.

Factoid of the night:

Mike Smith hit a career milestone with his shootout victory against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Scores:

Colorado 5, Dallas 3

Vegas 4 , Chicago 2

New York Islanders 5, Arizona 3

Anaheim 6, Philadelphia 2

Pittsburgh 2, Edmonton 1 (OT)

Tampa Bay 5, Carolina 1

Buffalo 1, Detroit 0

Montreal 5, Florida 1

L.A. 3, Ottawa 2 (SO)

Calgary 3, Nashville 2 (SO)

Vancouver 1, Minnesota 0

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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.

Penguins d-man Schultz suffers concussion vs. Oilers

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We’ve seen this before already this season: Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel teaming up for an overtime winner.

This time, it was Malkin setting up Kessel with a perfect saucer pass before Kessel ripped home that familiar wrist shot off the rush to defeat the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 2-1 on Tuesday.

Connor McDavid — who had gone six games without a goal since his season-opening hat trick against Calgary — scored late in the third period to secure at least the single point on the road for an Edmonton team looking to turn things around after a dismal and disappointing start despite heightened expectations around this group.

Contributing to Edmonton’s loss was the play of Matt Murray in net for Pittsburgh. He made 29 saves, but none better than a desperation stick stop on Mark Letestu during the second period. Count it as a Save of the Year candidate. It kept the game scoreless at the time, allowing Pittsburgh to eventually take the lead.

The win, however, came with some bad news, as injuries piled up for the Penguins throughout this contest. Defenseman Justin Schultz left the game after the first period and didn’t return.

Head coach Mike Sullivan later revealed to reporters that Schultz has been diagnosed with a concussion. Meanwhile, Carter Rowney, who was placed on injured reserve yesterday, has a fractured hand and is expected to miss at least four weeks.

The Penguins recently made a move aimed at helping them up the middle by acquiring Riley Sheahan from Detroit. He recorded an assist and 14:47 of ice time in his Penguins debut.

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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.

Sabres hand Red Wings their fifth straight loss

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Make that back-to-back wins for the Buffalo Sabres. A high-scoring comeback from three goals down, however, was not necessary this time.

Facing the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, the Sabres didn’t get plenty of scoring.

They didn’t need it this time, with Benoit Pouliot scoring the lone goal and the eventual winner midway through the second period. Robin Lehner stopped all 32 shots he faced for the shutout, as Buffalo held on to win 1-0.

It’s a small step forward for a team that had a listless effort at home against the Canucks last Friday and had only one victory through its first eight games of the new season, prompting star forward Jack Eichel to sound his displeasure with the Sabres’ losing ways, which have become far too constant, even before he showed up as the No. 2 overall draft selection in 2015.

Now, making it three wins in a row will prove a difficult feat, as the Sabres travel to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings are less than two weeks removed from their hot start (four wins in five games) to the season, a reminder that things can change quickly for some teams in the NHL once the chaos of the first few games begins to subside.

Detroit’s losing streak now stands at five games. They have scored only once over the past two games, and the risk of losing a sixth straight game is real as they travel to Tampa Bay to meet the red-hot Lightning on Thursday.

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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: Matt Murray’s miraculous stick save stymies Oilers

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We have another Save of the Year candidate!

And this most recent entry belongs to Penguins goalie Matt Murray, who absolutely robbed Oilers forward Mark Letestu of what looked to be a sure goal during the second period by desperately throwing out the paddle of his goalie stick to make the miraculous stop.

That kept the game — featuring Connor McDavid against Sidney Crosby — scoreless midway through the second period. Not only did Murray make the stick save, but the Oilers also couldn’t bury their two chances during the immediate scramble in front of the Penguins net.

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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.