James O'Brien

Viktor Arvidsson presents: The Mitt Trick? (Video)

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If Arby’s ever needed a hockey spokesman, perhaps they should look to Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson.

The rising scorer generated the first hat trick of his NHL career in the Predators’ 7-4 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday, an unusual instance beyond it being Arvidsson’s first three-goal output.

For one thing, it’s odd – though far from unprecedented – to see a player generate a hat trick in a pretty lopsided loss. Peter Laviolette essentially said they wouldn’t burn the tape from this “gross” game, instead hoping the team would learn from it. Then again, maybe he thought Arvidsson’s moment deserved to be preserved?

The other strange thing is that hats weren’t the only thing to get tossed onto the ice by the Bridgestone Arena crowd. Apparently it was free oven mitt day, so fans sent their casserole protection toward the rink.

Maybe this game was just meant to be a little strange, even beyond the matinee start time. You don’t often see moments like P.K. Subban‘s ill-fated fight, either.

Sharks are trying to take four-game losing streak in stride

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 01:  Head coach Peter DeBoer of the San Jose Sharks watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on November 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks’ Pacific Division lead is in some peril. They’ve now lost four straight games after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Flyers in Philly. Is it time to panic?

Not quite.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer isn’t too flustered by this tough span – something Joe Pavelski deems a “funk” – especially since some of these defeats feel a little random, as he told CSN Bay Area.

“We’ve lost three games in overtime or shootouts. Those are coin flips,” DeBoer said. “I don’t feel we’re in a rut, no. No.”

(Aside: it is a little amusing that this isn’t a rut [according to DeBoer] but it might be a funk [by Pavelski’s estimation]. So a funk is better than a rut? Cool.)

The Sharks get a chance to grab one win on this current four-game road swing if they can beat the Devils in New Jersey on Sunday. There is some logic to finding a silver lining in at least grinding out “charity points” during a stretch of road games, even if some fans will be left grumbling.

The rest of February isn’t too rough on the Sharks, trading off home and road games here and there. March is where the meat of their opportunities and challenges reside.

From March 9-18, the Sharks enjoy a six-game homestand that concludes with a March 18 meeting versus the Anaheim Ducks, their hated rival who’s currently ranked second in the Pacific.

After that, they play four in a row and seven of eight on the road from March 20 – April 2, then their season concludes with three home games.

With those stretches in mind, it’s understandable that DeBoer is trying to keep the highs and lows limited right now. There are bigger obstacles ahead.

Nationals star Bryce Harper is a Golden Knights fan; Capitals are sad

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals points while taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Star athletes get away with things others might not, like openly rooting for teams in other sports that don’t represent the cities that employ them.

We’ve seen it with Lebron James and the New York Yankees (though he was very publicly rooting for the Cleveland Indians too … this is confusing), and now it appears that the Vegas Golden Knights have an unlikely fan: Washington Nationals super-star and fancy hair enthusiast Bryce Harper.

The Golden Knights shared this shot of Harper wearing some Golden Knights gear on Saturday:

This made the Capitals have a sad.

It’s easy enough to understand Harper’s reasoning: he’s from Las Vegas, so why not throw in his hat to support the new franchise? Then again, Nova Caps points out that Harper was also seen wearing Chicago Blackhawks gear (gasp) so perhaps the Caps should have seen this massive betrayal coming.

In other news, Harper’s Twitter feed is sparse yet entertaining.

Blackhawks break through against Wild with overtime win

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The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten the better of the Minnesota Wild in the playoffs, but as far as the regular season goes, it was actually quite the opposite.

Minnesota had won the teams’ last eight regular season meetings, with Chicago going 0-7-1 during that span. The Blackhawks didn’t have an easy time holding off the Wild on Wednesday, either, but Jonathan Toews‘ 4-3 OT winner ended up clinching it.

The Wild did get a “charity point” out of this one, so let’s look at where the teams sit after Wednesday:

Minnesota: 76 points in 53 games
Chicago: 71 points in 55 games

Speaking of points, Toews’ OT goal (and three-point night) helped him climb the franchise’s scoring rankings.

Some Blackhawks fans might grumble about the Wild even grabbing a point. Zach Parise‘s 2-2 goal required a lengthy, divisive (and amusing?) review and Eric Staal paved the way for Minnesota’s 3-3 tally with what might qualify as interference:

You could tell this game meant quite a bit to both teams, as the pace was frenetic and a lot of the action was exciting. The Blackhawks and Wild combined for 70 shots on goal during this clash between the Central Division’s top two teams.

Chicago is now on a three-game winning streak, going 3-1-0 to begin a six-game road trip in an impressive fashion. The Wild have an opportunity to fatten its lead over Chicago and the rest of the Central Division as they still have seven games remaining on this eight-game homestand.

For more on what lies ahead for these two teams, check out this rundown of their schedules.

Twitter has a good laugh at iPhone being used during Parise goal review

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Making fun of goal reviews is practically a pastime on Twitter at this point, but Zach Parise‘s eventual 2-2 goal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild was one of the more amusing and noteworthy recent examples.

(Granted, Blackhawks players, fans and executives probably aren’t too amused. Maybe in time?)

Officials went through goal review process for a long time trying to determine if the play was onside, ultimately determining that it was inconclusive. Plenty of people believe that it was conclusively offside, however.

The fun stuff really came from an official seemingly using his iPhone during the process, likely consulting the war room in Toronto.

People giggled and were merry at this unusual moment.

This was a goldmine for the Xcel Energy Center crew, which played a dial tone along with the expected long review drops, such as the “Jeopardy” theme.

Did the league get it wrong? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went into detail on the subject, but others are convinced that the goal shouldn’t count.

Update: The NHL’s Situation Room Blog provides the following update (bolded by the league, by the way).

Review was not conclusive in determining whether Parise had had tagged up at the instant the puck touched Charlie Coyle‘s stick. According to Rule 78.7, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call.”