James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Video: Rare fights for Mike Cammalleri, Jordan Staal

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Your mileage may vary, but from here, it’s often entertaining to see an infrequent fighter get into the occasional squabble.

It doesn’t hurt that, in most instances, that guy’s fighting because he actually wants to. It’s a little tougher to reconcile with the future implications of fighting for enforcers who drop the gloves several times per season.

But for those rare fighters, it can be kind of fun, at least if no one gets “hurt” beyond a bruise or bump here and there.

Thursday presented at least two rare fights, as Michael Cammalleri feuded with Nick Cousins as a part of a fairly nasty New Jersey Devils 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

(See video of that fight above.)

Hockey Fights’ listings indicates that the bout with Cousins was the third fight of Cammalleri’s career.

Meanwhile, Jordan Staal fought with Zach Bogosian during the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres:

The two-way forward fights a bit more often, as this was his fifth according to Hockey Fights.

For a full list of Thursday’s feuds, click here.

Budaj gets fourth shutout of season for scrappy Kings


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A road game for Nic Dowd definitely had a home feeling to it.

Peter Budaj made 28 saves and Dowd, a Huntsville, Alabama native, scored to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Nick Shore, Jeff Carter and Devin Setoguchi also scored for Los Angeles. Playing the sixth of their season-long nine-game road swing, the Kings improved their record to 3-2-1 on the current trip.

Budaj made 12 saves in the first period, nine in the second and seven in the third en route to his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career.

“I felt good tonight, I was seeing the puck well,” Budaj said. “The guys were doing a great job blocking shots. It always helps because Nashville is known for getting shots from the point and then trying to jam the net and just try to get the second, third opportunities. We eliminated that.”

Pekka Rinne made 21 saves for Nashville, which had a two-game winning streak come to an end.

“I definitely think that from a consistency standpoint, it needs to be better,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Win two, lose two, win two, lose one, win one, lose three – you’re going nowhere in mud really quick. We’ve got to string something together.”

The Kings have not allowed a power-play goal in eight consecutive games. In killing off three Nashville power plays, Los Angeles allowed just three shots on goal in the 6 minutes they were shorthanded.

“We’re limiting the number of penalties that we take, (that) obviously helps, two or three a game,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We have good centermen that are pretty good penalty killers. There’s no secret to it.”

Shore scored the game’s first goal at 6:33 of the opening period.

Jordan Nolan carried the puck into the low slot and sent a pass to Shore in the right faceoff circle. Shore attempted to pass it back to Nolan, but the puck deflected off the stick of Nashville’s Mike Ribeiro and past Rinne.

The score remained 1-0 into the third, when Dowd and Carter scored 9 seconds apart.

Dowd, who grew up 100 miles south of Nashville, connected from the left faceoff circle at 4:25 with a wrist shot that squeezed just underneath Rinne’s leg pad.

Several of Dowd’s family members made the short trip north to see him play his first-ever NHL game in Nashville.

“Minus the goal, I think just playing here in general, I was just excited to be around my family and get to see them after,” Dowd said. “Very few times all five of them, six of them are going to be able to see me play at once.”

After winning the ensuing faceoff against Ribeiro, Carter carried the puck down the right side and snapped a shot by Rinne for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Carter has 25 points in 24 career games against Nashville.

“There are some things we can do better defensively too,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “Like tonight in the third, we definitely left (Rinne) hanging back there, but I think it’s a big thing from the start. We’ve got to go and try to get the first goal and win the game. The game is so much easier when you have that lead, you’re playing with the momentum and everything. We’ve got to make sure we do that.”

Setoguchi connected at 11:39 of the third off a nice pass from Kings captain Anze Kopitar just outside Rinne’s crease.

The assist was Kopitar’s 700th career NHL point.

Notes: Predators D P.K. Subban missed his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. . Nashville C Calle Jarnkrok played in his 200th career NHL game. … Budaj is 9-5-0 in his career against Nashville. . The Kings are 11-1-1 when leading after two periods this season.


Kings: Travel to Dallas on Friday

Predators: Face Minnesota at home on Tuesday

Video: Luongo (and Ekblad’s eye) steal the show in giving Jagr congrats


He stumbled over the punchline ever so slightly, but leave it to Roberto Luongo to provide the funniest part of a video of various NHL personalities congratulating Jaromir Jagr for passing Mark Messier as the NHL’s all-time second leading point scorer.

(Click here for that moment.)

The video’s a great watch, as you can see Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky (plus Wayne Gretzky’s Christmas tree) provide their hearty congratulations to a great “ambassador for the game.”

Let’s be honest, Aaron Ekblad‘s terminator eye might have been what actually stole the show.

Jagr’s reached that status where the praise is also accompanied by good-natured ribbing, seen in spots like NHL.com’s “Mullet Meter.” Here’s what Jagr had to say about hitting 1,888 points:

You know it’s a big deal when other sports teams also throw out their congrats:

Lightning show signs of life in comeback win vs. Blues


The Tampa Bay Lightning have been stumbling for much of this season, to the point where even a tough loss sometimes prompted quite a bit of optimism. We’ve wondered if they were starting to figure things out before, only to see them take a step back.

Still, those positive quotes are trickling out again after the Lightning fought back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Thursday.

“We’re trending upward,” Brian Boyle said, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith. “But we still need to make up some ground. We’ve got to go on a run.”

It’s tougher to scoff at the Lightning looking at the glass as half-full when you see the sort of things Jonathan Drouin can accomplish:

As the Bolts note, even Drouin’s empty-netters are fun to watch.

On a side note, Wade Megan didn’t just make his remarkable debut for the Blues. He also scored in his first NHL game:

Perhaps the Lightning can echo Megan’s career arc and show that they won’t give up.

Jaromir Jagr breaks tie with Mark Messier for second all-time in scoring


With an assist on Aleksander Barkov‘s goal on Thursday, Jaromir Jagr generated the 1,888th point of his legendary NHL career. In doing so, he broke his tie with Mark Messier and now stands alone at No. 2 all-time for points in league history.

Wayne Gretzky’s in first with an almost unthinkable 2,857 points so … Jagr would need to inspire years of old jokes to flirt with that mark.

Regardless, it’s an incredible achievement, one Jagr managed in his 1,663rd regular season game. The 44-year-old didn’t force people to wait very long for him to break his tie with Messier, as he hit 1,887 points on Tuesday.

As you can tell from the video above, it wasn’t a beauty. The quote Jagr provided regarding it was pretty fantastic, however: