James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets

More and more, it’s looking like it will be a three-team race for the second and third seeds in the Metropolitan Division, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets jockeying for position.

This makes Monday’s game in Columbus a treat, as the second-place Blue Jackets (75 points in 54 games) host the fourth-ranked Rangers (73 points in 55 games). With Pittsburgh at 75 points in 55 contests, it’s clear that these three teams are running neck-and-neck right now.

The Rangers might just be the hottest of those squads. Henrik Lundqvist just won his 400th game and the team itself is on a five-game winning streak.

Columbus has dealt with some ups and downs, including questions about how players might be interacting with fiery coach John Tortorella. The Blue Jackets beat Detroit 2-1 on Saturday, so maybe they’re on the verge of another run themselves.

You can watch the action on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.

Let’s chuckle at goalie flubs by Mike Smith, Al Montoya (Video)

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It is Sunday morning, so there’s a chance that you’re less likely to roll out of bed grumbling.

Still, you could have had a tough night. Maybe your team lost. Perhaps you suffered some social shortcomings at a bar/party/against online opponents.

Whatever the case may be, if you need a laugh, this post might be your tonic.

This post covers two flubs from Saturday night. The video above the headline marks the second goal of Josh Archibald’s career, scored one period after his first-ever marker. It’s not the first example of Mike Smith being a bit too adventurous handling the puck, though it stands to mention that his better moments generally fail to make highlight/blooper reels.

The biggest saving grace for Smith is that the Coyotes ended up edging the Penguins 4-3 in OT. (Read more about how this result affects the Penguins’ Metro prospects here.)

Smith had a busy night when it came to making us giggle, really:

While the Coyotes were able to win despite that Smith flub, the Montreal Canadiens fell 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues with Al Montoya in net. Montoya had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction in slipping on this early goal:

Hey, at least Montoya didn’t allow 10 goals this time around.

Video: Nazem Kadri’s crushing check on Brian Gionta

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Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri can get under opponents’ skin in a number of ways. Sometimes he’s a nuisance, sometimes he scores a “dagger” goal and every now then, he’ll land a big hit.

Kadri lined up Buffalo Sabres veteran Brian Gionta with a thunderous check on Saturday, one that will make some of us cringe.

The Sabres got the last laugh in this game, however, beating the Maple Leafs 3-1. Evander Kane continues to heat up, scoring two goals in this one. Depending upon how you view Buffalo’s chances, the Sabres are either staying in the playoff picture or proving to be a formidable “spoiler” threat.

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.