James O'Brien

Video: Max Pacioretty’s hat trick powers Canadiens win vs. Sabres

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Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty continues to distance himself from an early goal drought in 2016-17.

(One that, apparently, was likely caused in part by playing through what sounds like a very painful injury.)

Pacioretty is now at 24 goals on the season after generating the sixth hat trick of his NHL career on Tuesday, helping the Habs handle the Buffalo Sabres by a final score of 5-2.

In typical hockey player fashion, Pacioretty said that he received a lot of help from his teammates. Judge for yourself in the video above.

Blues’ playoff lead shrinks after another rough night for Jake Allen

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen is slow to get up after giving up a goal to Washington Capitals' T.J. Oshie during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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So, it looks like the All-Star break didn’t provide any answers for Jake Allen or the St. Louis Blues.

At least, that’s the takeaway if you consider results alone, as Allen struggled once more and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Blues 5-3 on Tuesday. Allen allowed four goals on just 23 shots, losing in his first start since Jan. 19.

Judging by quotes from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues seemed remarkably even-keeled after the defeat. Maybe they merely believe there was only so much they could do, much like Allen may have viewed this goal by Nikolaj Ehlers?

Ken Hitchcock deemed it a step in the right direction and also noted that Allen would get the start on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Allen seemed very positive as well.

“I felt pretty good, honestly,” Allen said, according to Rutherford. “It wasn’t the result we wanted. But for my sake, I honestly felt pretty good.”

Here’s an artist’s depiction of Allen and Hitchcock reacting to Tuesday’s loss.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

All kidding aside, while the Blues currently find themselves in one of the West’s wild card spots, their cushion has basically evaporated.

Wild card ranks as of this writing

1. Kings – 54 points in 50 games
2. Blues – 53 points in 50 GP

Flames – 53 in 52
Canucks – 52 in 50
Stars – 52 in 51
Jets – 52 in 53

Yikes.

Is Brad Marchand guilty of another dangerous trip?

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Brad Marchand is not a popular man in Tampa Bay, and not just because he’s racked up two assists in Tuesday’s game between the Lightning and Boston Bruins.

Last week, the NHL fined him $10K for a “dangerous trip” on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, but the league didn’t hand Marchand a suspension.

Many believe that he didn’t exactly learn his lesson, as he pulled this move on Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, avoiding a penalty in the game itself. The caption on this GIF says it all for many in the hockey world:

Now, there are plenty of incidents that go without a penalty only to result in a fine or suspension.

To reiterate, plenty of people are unhappy with Marchand. The ire isn’t limited to Lightning fans.

We’ll see if Marchand gets a fine, suspension or no punishment at all. Whatever happens, it’s no secret that he’s a polarizing presence.

Here’s video of the trip that drew that $10K fine:

The Bruins ended up beating the Lightning 4-3 in regulation.

All-Star break didn’t cool Islanders, who beat Capitals to keep run going

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13:  T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 13, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Capitals defeated the Islanders 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Quite a few factors could have derailed the New York Islanders’ hot streak under interim head coach Doug Weight. None did on Tuesday night.

Instead, the Islanders maintained their momentum with a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

The All-Star break apparently didn’t derail the Islanders. A strong opponent in the Capitals didn’t stop them. Thomas Greiss didn’t sag after receiving cherished security in a three-year, $10 million contract extension and even the latest round of drama about their stay in Brooklyn didn’t sour things enough to push the Isles toward the “L” column.

The Islanders are now 6-0-1 in their last seven games, including a 5-0-1 mark under Weight (strangely, the Jack Capuano era ended with a 4-0 victory against the Bruins on Jan. 16). They’ve given the Capitals some real headaches, something few teams can claim this season.

Weight, Greiss, John Tavares and the rest of the Islanders have a lot of work to do as they continue to try to dig their way out of a serious hole.

As an interesting aside, for all the Barclays drama, the Islanders are 16-8-5 at home and 6-9-4 on the road so far this season. That disparity in home versus away contests so far in 2016-17 is yet another reminder that there could be some serious bumps in the road soon enough.

Still, with how dire things were not that long ago, the Islanders will gladly accept some hope even if such optimism might need to come with a disclaimer.

Teen spirit: 19-year-old Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho nets hat trick

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The Carolina Hurricanes have seen some ups and downs in 2016-17, to the point that it might be easy to overlook the war chest of young talent GM Ron Francis has put together.

(Seriously, Jordan Staal is one of the old men of the core group at 28.)

Sometimes it takes a superlative performance to really drive that point home, and that happened on Tuesday, as 19-year-old rookie Sebastian Aho generated the first hat trick by a Hurricanes rookie in 16 years.

His first goal of the night was especially brilliant, as you can see in the video above of his impressive hat trick.

You can also watch it in one handy GIF via Stephanie Vail:

Remarkable stuff. Again, this was a pretty rare achievement:

Update: The Hurricanes ended up beating the Flyers 5-1 on Tuesday.