James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

The Buzzer: Malkin, McDavid, Jagr, dynamic duos


Partners of the night: It felt like partners-in-crime ruled the roost on Tuesday, so let’s focus on some dynamic duos.

Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin – one goal, two assists apiece

These two are so effective, you wonder what they might accomplish if they didn’t hate each other, right columnists? Anyway, the two forwards were involved in all three Penguins goals in a 3-1 win against the Coyotes on Tuesday, including a moment where Kessel patiently avoided batted a puck in with high stick.

The man is an artist.

Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko – one goal, two assists apiece

After collecting four assists in his last game, Schenn remains red-hot for the Blues, generating three points on Tuesday. So far, he has 18 points in his first 16 games with St. Louis. If healthy, Schenn could smash his career-high of 59 points.

This helper on a Jaden Schwartz goal was just slick.

Connor McDavid (one goal) and Leon Draisaitl (goal, assist)

These two didn’t put up the same numbers as the others, but they made some beautiful plays in combining for both of the Oilers’ goals in a 2-1 OT win against the Islanders. These are the moments you dream of when you pay two hockey players $21M combined (though McDavid doesn’t get his raise until next season):

Highlight of the Night: Pierre Luc-Dubois befuddles P.K. Subban and Pekka Rinne.

Few players make Subban look bad, so be proud, P-L-D:

Actually, P.E. Bellemare might be the real winner:

Kings – Ducks probably ranks as the true highlights of the night, though, honestly. Insane game. The highlights might as well have the same run-time as “Return of the King.”

Factoids of the Night:

Wow, Geno.

Maybe Montreal can give Carey Price a little mental health vacation?

Can Jaromir Jagr finish his career on top of this list?

Scores and more

Sabres 3, Capitals 1
Blues 3, Devils 1
Oilers 2, Islanders 1 (OT)
Penguins 3, Coyotes 1
Hurricanes 3, Panthers 1
Predators 3, Blue Jackets 1
Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Canucks 5, Flames 3
Kings 4, Ducks 3 (OT)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Quick goes after Perry as hate is in the air between Kings, Ducks


Goalies really don’t like Corey Perry, and it’s not just because he scores so many goals.

Perry frequently walks the line between legal and dirty when he crashes the crease, and chances are, he’s done so against Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick as much as anyone else, being that they’re local rivals with the Anaheim Ducks.

This is one of those nights when both the Ducks and Kings are ratcheting up the violence – as of this writing, Andy Andreoff just got into a fight, so the nastiness may only climb – and the guy in big, bulky pads got involved.

As you can see from the video above, Quick went after Perry during the second period of tonight’s game.

Things really might have gotten heated because of this hit by Kurtis MacDermid, though:

Here’s footage of Andreoff going after Jared Boll:

Just a lot going on, and very little of it can be described as sportsmanlike. Yes, it’s kinda great.

Stream the action live here.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks


The Anaheim Ducks can attest that injury luck can be cruel.

They already came into 2017-18 with some bumps and bruises, including a lengthy injury for bread-and-butter center Ryan Kesler. Tuesday presented more bad news: an even more important center (and Ryan) is out for two months, as Ryan Getzlaf needed surgery after a puck to the face left him with a broken cheekbone. Brutal.

Also brutal: their local rivals the Los Angeles Kings, who are on a hot streak and are unlikely to take it easy on the Ducks.

Enjoy the latest battle of California on NBCSN to close out today’s doubleheader. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.


For more, check out this preview.

Sabres end Capitals’ streak on strength of Pouliot’s video-game goal

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The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made as much progress as they were hoping for so far in 2017-18, but that doesn’t mean that they lack some nice pieces.

On most nights, the best moments have come from the most obvious sources, as Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, and Jason Pominville have carried much of the offense.

Buffalo’s top guys certainly made an impact in tonight’s 3-1 win (Kane collected the 27th multi-goal game of his career, with the first coming thanks to a nice play by Eichel), yet management must feel nice to see a subtler addition scoring the game-winner.

After the Oilers bought out Benoit Pouliot, the Sabres snatched him up for cheap, and Pouliot showed why he was a nice value with his fifth goal of the season. If this kind of tally happened in “NHL 18,” less patient gamers might throw a controller:

Tremendous stuff. Alex Ovechkin‘s 13th goal of the season ended up being the only one that beat Robin Lehner on Tuesday. This improves Buffalo to 5-8-2, marking just its second win at home.

It sure seemed like the Capitals were a little sleepy in closing out a back-to-back set here. Barry Trotz can’t be happy about another significant penalty disparity, even if both teams failed to score on the PP (Washington went 0-for-1 while Buffalo failed on four opportunities).

[Trotz has complained about the Capitals’ discipline and officials’ calls before this season]

They’re now at 8-7-1 as a three-game winning streak comes to the end. They’ll get a few days off before two interesting home games: against the Penguins on Friday and the Oilers on Sunday.

They’ll need to bring a lot more energy into those efforts if they want to avoid slipping under .500.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Video: Tom Wilson fights after his latest big hit


Whether you view him as a dirty hitter or an aggressive player, the bottom line is that opponents must be alert when Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson is on the ice.

Tuesday provided the latest example, as Sam Reinhart got lit up by Wilson. His Buffalo Sabres teammate Jake McCabe responded immediately by dropping the gloves with Wilson.

Probably most importantly, it seems like Reinhart is OK. He returned to the action and created some plays, including making a saucy move in the third period (though he was unable to score in that instance).

You can watch the hit and the short bout in the video above this post’s headline.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.