James O'Brien

Pittsburgh Penguins' Mike Sullivan stands behind Sidney Crosby (87) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Pittsburgh, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pitiful Penguins lose fifth in a row


Whatever your opinion of Mike Johnston might be, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that he wasn’t the only problem in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins continued their rudderless play of late, suffering their fifth straight loss as the Carolina Hurricanes edged them 2-1.

At this point, it’s tougher to spin the effort seen since Sullivan took the reins, although perhaps the dividends will pay out in the future.

Yes, the Penguins generated a 38-26 shot edge, but at some point you just need to find a way to win. It’s not just five straight losses for the Penguins; they’re now 2-6-2 in a troubling 10-game span. They’ve only won twice and generated five standings points in December.

The team still seems to be pulling for future bounces:

If things aren’t already bleak, consider the fact that their schedule is worrisome on top of all that. Only four of their next 11 games take place at home.

Cam Ward certainly deserves a bunch of credit for his work tonight, although some view it as merely another way to condemn the Penguins:

At this point, the only source of solace for Penguins fans might come in the bevy of funny faces Mike Sullivan keeps making … and that comic relief is likely lost on much of the audience.

Jonathan Bernier’s first win of 2015-16 was also a shutout


The Los Angeles Kings once saw plenty of what the hockey world’s rarely witnessed lately: Jonathan Bernier at his best.

It’s oddly fitting that the tormented Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender finally got his first win – and shutout – of his miserable 2015-16 season against the Kings, aka the team that selected him a first-round pick.

Bernier stopped all 26 Kings shuts on Saturday as Toronto managed an eye-popping 5-0 upset.

It’s been a while since Bernier’s enjoyed a night like this, to say the least.

Here’s a useful infographic to illustrate that point:

At least Bernier’s willing to laugh at himself.

This goal symbolizes Dallas’ dominant win vs. Montreal


On paper, this should be a clash of titans: the top team in the NHL (Dallas Stars) hosts the East’s second-ranked club (Montreal Canadiens).

Instead, it’s felt a bit like hammer-on-nail, as the Stars hold a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

There are plenty of impressive moments from Dallas, including Jason Spezza‘s fake-shot-then-goal, but the sequence that finished with Tyler Seguin‘s 4-1 tally captured the one-sided spirit of this one.

It’s not just the fact that it features a goal by one of the Stars’ dangerous scorers. There’s also a big hit by Jamie Benn on Jeff Petry, which did not draw a penalty call.

Check out that span of play in the video above. Here’s the Benn hit in GIF form as well:

Petry suffered an injury that ended his night early.

There was also a questionable check by Patrick Eaves and some other memorable moments so far, even if the game hasn’t been very even.

Here’s the Spezza goal in case you want to gape in awe:

Sometimes this Dallas offense is so dangerous, it almost feels unfair.

Update: Not a whole lot changed in the third, with the Stars ultimately winning 6-2.

Isles will be without Okposo for next two games

New York Islanders' Kyle Okposo leaves the ice after Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Penguins defeated the Islanders in overtime 5-4. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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The New York Islanders announced that forward Kyle Okposo will miss the next two games because of a “nagging lower-body injury.”

The Isles face the Coyotes tonight and the Ducks on Monday. Okposo could get a really nice rest this way, as they’ll be a break from Monday until next Sunday (when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs).

That’s not to say that Okposo is guaranteed to return by that match. Either way, it seems like a reasonable time to strategically sit him and allow that gnawing issue to subside with limited damage to the team.

Okposo has been productive so far in this contract year, generating eight goals and 26 points in 33 games. Perhaps he’s been slowed just a touch most recently, as he’s been without a point in his past two games (though that may be a coincidence).

Stamkos says he wants to stay in Tampa Bay (and denies issues with coach)


Maybe he isn’t always liking the right tweets, but Steven Stamkos is saying all the right things about his future with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nervous Lightning fans will find a lot to like in Stamkos’ comments to the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday.

“Like I’ve always said, I envision myself winning a championship here and want to do that,” Stamkos said. “Obviously we got close last year, and I’m the captain of this team and I want to be that leader.”

Beyond that, Stamkos shot down a lot of speculation, including murmurs that he doesn’t get along with Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (especially relevant since Cooper recently signed a contract extension).

This quote probably summarizes his response to various reports:

“I think obviously the people who know me and are close to the situation know what’s true and what’s not true.”

Of course, Stamkos also admits that a lot of things can happen between now and then – then being when he signs a new contract – so all that really matters is when his name is finally on the dotted line.

In other words, the speculation isn’t likely to stop, but at least Lightning fans can regain a little hope following another distracting Stamkos circus.

Three ring Stamkos circus

Could Tampa Bay lose him for nothing?

Sign Stamkos signs in Toronto

Others stole the show from Stamkos