James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Hellebuyck shuts down Blackhawks, Laine scores yet again

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season, rookie Patrik Laine scored his NHL-leading 12th goal and the Winnipeg Jets beat the division-leading Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Rookie defenseman Josh Morrissey scored his first career goal, while forwards Chris Thorburn and Nic Petan got their first scores of the season for the second-place Jets.

Nikolaj Ehlers had two assists, helping Winnipeg stretch its points streak to five games.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford was replaced by Scott Darling after letting in four goals on 22 shots. Darling made two saves.

It was the first of five games between the Central Division foes this season.

The Blackhawks had points in each of their previous 11 games. It was their first game in a season-high seven-game road trip.

Morrissey beat Crawford at 6:26 of the first period when his one-timer from the high slot went through the goalie’s legs.

It was only the 11th even-strength goal Crawford had allowed this season.

Morrissey finished the period in the penalty box after he was called for charging against Hawks wing Vinnie Hinostroza with 26 seconds left, but Chicago couldn’t take advantage of the extra man.

The Hawks got two more power plays early in the middle period, including a two-man advantage for 1:07.

Winnipeg handled the puck often in the short-handed situation and got a standing ovation from the crowd at MTS Centre after the second penalty expired.

The Jets had their first power play midway through the scoreless second, but couldn’t add to their 1-0 lead.

Chicago outshot Winnipeg 20-13 after two periods.

Thorburn scored at 4:41 of the third period with a surprise shot. The veteran got the puck along the boards, spun around and shot at the net. The puck went high past Crawford for the 2-0 lead.

Laine scored after Dustin Byfuglien‘s wraparound attempt went off a stick and Laine got the puck and flipped it by Crawford at 8:32.

Eleven seconds later, Petan scored his first of the season when he missed shooting a loose puck but his second attempt beat Crawford.

NOTES: Winnipeg is now 6-0 when leading after two periods. … Chicago had scored at least two goals in each of its previous games this season. … Blackhawks D Duncan Keith played in his 850th career NHL game.

UP NEXT

Blackhawks: At Calgary on Friday night in the second game of a seven-game trip through Canada and California.

Jets: At Philadelphia on Thursday night in the opener of a five-game trip.

Spillage: Oilers drop fourth in a row in falling to Ducks

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Yes, it indeed looks like the Edmonton Oilers are starting to face some serious adversity in 2016-17.

By falling 4-1 to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, the Oilers have now lost four games in a row, all in regulation. They’re also 2-6-1 in their last nine contests after beginning the season 7-1-0.

There is some good news.

Even with this loss dropping them to 9-7-1, they’re tied with the Ducks for first in the Pacific with 19 standings points.

They’re also generally being positive to the press, backing up the numbers (including Tuesday’s 35-27 shots on goal advantage).

“We’re still generating a lot of chances, which is positive,” Connor McDavid said. “But we have to build on that.”

It’s key for Edmonton to keep such a calm demeanor going through what could be a harrowing stretch. They just began a three-game road trip against the Ducks, Kings and Stars. They face five of their next six games on the road.

Their power play has come up dry lately, failing to connect on their last 11 opportunities.

In the past, the Oilers have cratered under pressures like these. It’s a positive sign that they’re not pointing fingers – at least in the press – but it doesn’t erase the notion that there’s a tough road ahead.

Flames get the sort of win they’ve been craving

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Sticking with a theme of Tuesday night, the Calgary Flames paid a price for their 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wild. As of this writing, it feels about as crucial as a mid-November victory can in the NHL.

The key caveat is the health of Johnny Gaudreau; if he’s OK, then he’s one of the biggest reasons why this was a feel-good win.

First, the good:

Gaudreau showed some of the magic Flames fans haven’t seen enough of so far this season on the game’s only goal.

That might feel rare, but strong goaltending has been even less common for Calgary. Chad Johnson made an argument for more reps on this day, stopping all 27 shots for a shutout.

Most obviously, the Flames ended a four-game losing streak and nabbed just their second victory in eight games.

They also showed the sort of hustle and grit that makes coaches and old-school types happy.

The bad news is that some of that rough stuff might have come at the cost of Gaudreau’s health. Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan admitted that he doesn’t yet know if Gaudreau suffered an injury late in the game, only that the talented player was shaken up by some slashes.

With two home games and then a six-game road trip up ahead, this would be a bad time for Gaudreau to miss games, even if the Flames would likely feel the sting without their creative winger under just about all circumstances.

Much like the Lightning with Steven Stamkos, the Flames just need to keep their fingers crossed while trying to enjoy a hard-earned win.

Broken stick, broken streak: Perfect run ends for Carey Price

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Hey, it had to end some time, right?

So far in 2016-17, the Montreal Canadiens were undefeated at home (10-0-0) and Carey Price (also 10-0-0) couldn’t be beat anytime he was in Montreal’s net. Those runs came to an end on Tuesday.

Granted, it’s not all bad; they still generated a standings point for their troubles as they lost to the Florida Panthers by a score of 4-3 in overtime.

Aaron Ekblad‘s clinching goal made the difference during a game of fairly memorable tallies:

A broken stick to break a streak. That’s too perfect, isn’t it?

With a 13-2-2 record overall for Montreal this season and a 10-0-1 mark for Price, it’s unlikely that the Canadiens are complaining all that much. Still, it’s remarkable just how close they were to maybe making even more history, both on Tuesday and maybe beyond.

Then again, the Canadiens are more interested in doing something they haven’t accomplished since 1993 rather than filling the record books on more obscure terms.

Late goal means it wasn’t all bad luck for Lightning vs. Red Wings

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It was a turbulent trip, but the Tampa Bay Lightning ultimately beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Tuesday.

The question is: will Steven Stamkos‘ injury be serious enough that the night will be deemed a net loss?

MORE: Video of Stamkos injury

That’s an unsettling question for the Bolts to consider, but in the mean time, they got a “gutsy win,” as Keith Jones said after the game. There’s some narrative symmetry to Stamkos scoring a goal to push himself closer to the league’s scoring leaders, only to get hurt … and then Nikita Kucherov rose himself with a huge, late goal.

After starting the scoring on Tuesday, Kucherov generated his second goal of the night (and eighth of 2016-17) to win the game with a little more than a minute remaining in the third period.

You can forgive the Red Wings for being a little thunderstruck by that 4-3 tally.

The Red Wings fought back hard from a 3-1 deficit to tie things up and also seemed to come a post or two away from getting a lead against Ben Bishop. The Lighning survived, however, and ultimately rode that late Kucherov goal to a regulation win.

Tampa Bay now has wins in the first two games of a five-game road trip, a great start for a span that also rounds out to eight road games in 10 appearances stretching back to Monday.

To shake off injuries and manage wins on back-to-back nights? Yeah, that’s some gutsy stuff. Especially considering how nasty this game got, including the Steve Ott hit on Cedric Paquette and Brayden Coburn shaking off an injury scare of his own.

Now they just need to cross their fingers to avoid the gut-punch that would come from a bad update regarding Stamkos.