James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Blues win fourth in a row on strength of Berglund’s hat trick

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MONTREAL (AP) Patrik Berglund scored three goals to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night for their fourth straight road win.

David Perron also scored for the Blues, who end a stretch of five consecutive away games on Wednesday in Detroit. St. Louis has won five of its last six games overall.

Berglund’s hat trick gave him six goals in his last five games and 17 on the season.

Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty scored for the slumping Canadiens, who are 1-4-1 in their last six.

The Canadiens controlled most of the play and outshot St. Louis 30-22, but lacked finish around the net.

The Blues went ahead 3:49 into the game when Jeff Petry lost his stick and Alex Pietrangelo had an open shot that Berglund got a piece of as it went past Al Montoya, who lost his balance and fell in his crease just before the shot was taken. It was the first goal Montoya allowed at the Bell Centre this season in four appearances.

Weber tied it at 16:39 with a blast from the right point that handcuffed Jake Allen.

Perron scored 7:20 into the second period when he took a drop pass from Jori Lehtera and shot between Montoya’s pads.

After a long stretch of play in St. Louis’ zone, Nathan Beaulieu‘s shot went in off Pacioretty at 12:55 for the Canadiens captain’s 28th of the season.

Berglund got his second of the game with 25 seconds left in the period on a shot through a screen. He added an empty netter to complete the hat trick at 18:59 of the third, as Perron left the puck for him to tap in the goal.

NOTES: Canadiens C Tomas Plekanec played his 900th NHL game. … Blues C Paul Stastny sat out with a lower-body injury suffered Thursday in Toronto. … Montreal RW Brendan Gallagher, out since Jan. 7 with a broken hand, is scheduled to return Sunday night in Boston. Carey Price is expected to start in goal for that game. … A moment of silence was held before the game for former Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who died this week.

UP NEXT

Blues: at Detroit on Wednesday night.

Canadiens: at Boston on Sunday night.

Video: Tom Wilson whistled for interference on Andrew Cogliano

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Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson had a busy night as the Caps edged the Anaheim Ducks 6-4 on Saturday, heading into the bye week on a six-game winning streak.

Wilson scored a goal in this one, but he likely ruffled the most Ducks’ feathers with a hit on speedy forward Andrew Cogliano.

Was a two-minute interference penalty good enough, insufficient or even excessive for the Wilson hit? You can review the check for yourself in the video above.

Lundqvist gets 400th win for red-hot Rangers; Metro races heat up

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After years of hoisting up the New York Rangers with his own heroics, the Rangers have sometimes been doing the heavy lifting for Henrik Lundqvist this season. It only seems fair, right?

It’s easy to forget just how special he’s been during his NHL career until he hits a milestone, as he did on Saturday. With the Rangers’ 4-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche, Lundqvist reached the 400-win mark.

“King Henrik” stopped 32 shots to get there.

To little surprise, Lundqvist is in rare company. He’s just the 12th goalie to win 400 games and is just the third to do so with the same team; Martin Brodeur won 688 with the New Jersey Devils and Phil Esposito managed 418 with the Chicago Blackhawks.

He also took the top spot in a relevant category:

Now, you can quibble with Lundqvist getting there faster thanks to shootout wins, but the overall point is that he’s enjoyed a special career … one that is in the ballpark of some of the true greats.

Of course, that Stanley Cup eludes a player who’s locked down great numbers and an Olympic gold medal. The good news there is that with the Rangers now on a five-game winning streak, Lundqvist & Co. are in the running for the second or third spot in the rabidly competitive Metropolitan Division.

Gaining a more desirable first-round matchup might just give Lundqvist a better chance to hit that silver milestone that matters the most.

Metro madness

With the Penguins losing to the Coyotes in overtime and the Blue Jackets taking care of business by edging the Red Wings, the races for the second and third spots in the Metro are really heating up.

Pittsburgh falling short meant a rare off couple of nights for Sidney Crosby.

Let’s ignore the Washington Capitals (who are way ahead in first place as they sail into a bye week) and teams more relevant to wild card races or lottery balls for the sake of brevity. Instead, let’s see where the Rangers, Penguins and Blue Jackets stand after Saturday’s games:

Metro races

2. Blue Jackets – 75 points in 54 games, 35 wins, 33 ROW
3. Penguins – 75 points in 54 games, 34 wins, 32 ROW

Rangers – 73 points in 55 games, 36 wins, 34 ROW

The Rangers are at a disadvantage here, yet it’s interesting that they have more wins and regulation/overtime wins, eh?

Overall, it should be a fun stretch run for these Metro contenders.

Capitals head into bye week on top of the NHL

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It’s unlikely that every person in the NHL agrees with Ron Hextall that the bye week is “asinine.” Considering the bumps and bruises accrued in a schedule this tight, many are probably delighted to get a breather.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Capitals experienced some mixed feelings heading into their bye week.

By holding off the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 6-4, they’ve now won six games in a row. Remarkably, Washington is now on a 12-game winning streak at the Verizon Center.

Their offense has been particularly hot, generating six goals twice, five goals three times and three goals once. Their 84 standings points easily towers over that of any other team. No one can compare to their +71 goal differential.

So … to some extent, the Caps probably wish the playoffs would just start tomorrow. They’re on fire and relatively healthy. Maintaining this level of play won’t be easy.

The Capitals played five of their last six games at home, and with more challenging days ahead, some might feel the urge to blame “rust.” They’ll begin a run of five of six road contests after their bye week, beginning with a trip to Joe Louis Arena next Saturday (Feb. 18), so there’s at least a chance they could stumble.

With the way Washington is playing, it might not matter. Then again, what if they lose their edge after some time off?

Unexpected fight videos: Jordan Staal vs. Oleksiak; JVR vs. Ristolainen

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With fighting on the decline, it’s especially exciting to see unseasoned fighters drop the gloves, at least if you’re into that sort of thing.

Saturday presented at least two rare fights, as Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes battled with Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak while Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk engaged in an unusual bout with towering (but not necessarily ultra-violent) Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen.

Staal vs. Oleksiak can be seen in the video above this post’s headline from a 5-2 Stars win.

According to Hockey Fights, this is the second scuffle of the season for Staal. Before this season, he hadn’t fought since being a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2009-10. Oleksiak is a more frequent combatant; he’s now fought three times this season and three times in 2015-16.

Ristolainen has only been credited with one fight so far in his young career, although he did seem to exchange niceties with Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, as you may note from this post’s main image. This appears to be JVR’s third NHL fight.

OK, so it wasn’t exactly “The Rumble in the Jungle,” but still …

The best part of that squabble might just be this joke:

More: P.K. Subban‘s misadventure with Vincent Trocheck.