James O'Brien

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

The Stars couldn’t score on Devan Dubnyk, either


If the NHL named a team of the week, it would probably have to be Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild this time around.

Dubnyk extended his shutout streak to three consecutive games on Saturday as the Wild blew out the Dallas Stars 4-0.

For most of the night, the game was a lot closer that that. In fact, there were probably more than a few Stars who felt like they deserved to win, at least before things got out of hand in the third period.

Just look at the second period. The Stars generated a ridiculous 13-1 shots on goal advantage in the middle frame but were unable to get any pucks past Dubnyk.

Minnesota pulled away with three goals in the third period to crush whatever spirit Dubnyk didn’t already drain from a struggling Stars squad.

It looks like Dubnyk produced a new shutout record as far as Wild history goes:

Again, it’s been an impressive week for the team as a whole, too.

While Dubnyk’s had to work for his goose eggs – he’s made 94 of 94 saves – the Wild beat their opponents by a total score of 13-0 in three wins this week.

This loss continues a miserable stretch for the Stars. They’ve been out-scored 8-1 in their last two losses and Dallas is 1-3-1 in its last five games. Even with injuries in mind, a 3-4-1 start is not what Stars fans or management expected in 2016-17.

About the only solace for the Stars is that they don’t need to face Minnesota again until Nov. 21. Maybe Dubnyk will cool off a bit by then?

Rask, Bruins snap Red Wings’ six-game winning streak


Tuukka Rask made a little (admittedly specific) history on Saturday, and he also made the Boston Bruins sigh with relief.

By stopping all 24 Red Wings shots on goal, Rask earned his 31st shutout, tying Tim Thomas for third all-time in Bruins history.

Boston needed every one of those saves, too, as the Bruins were only able to beat red-hot Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard one time to win 1-0. Howard made 35 out of 36 saves, continuing Detroit’s remarkable early run of goaltending.

Speaking of remarkable early runs, the Bruins ended the Red Wings’ winning streak at six games with this result.

More relevant to the Bruins: they ended a three-game skid of their own, going to .500 at 4-4-0 in 2016-17.

That’s the kind of record some expected to see for a perceived bubble team, but some of those stumbles may be at least partially attributed to Rask’s injury-related absence. Their fortunes certainly look a little more promising with him – and this win – after tonight.

Malkin’s 300th goal was the difference for Pens over Flyers


Sidney Crosby wasn’t the only star player who came up big in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ eventual 5-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.

Crosby’s two goals in 43 seconds seemed to drop the gauntlet on other stars for both teams, and they largely responded. It’s almost as if Evgeni Malkin muttered “Um, guys, I’m a pretty big deal too …” before scoring two goals of his own.

Malkin didn’t just get the game-winner in this contest; he also generated the 300th goal of his already-impressive career with that decisive tally in the third:

Malkin’s milestone night shines brightest in a game that featured some intriguing subplots:

  • Jakub Voracek scored two goals of his own, including one on a penalty shot:

Philly generated a 29-14 shots on goal edge through the final two periods of Saturday’s game, yet they couldn’t take the next step after tying things up 4-4. Instead, Malkin’s second goal was the only tally of the third period, and the difference in this contest.


It felt, at times, like one of the Penguins – Flyers playoff series that featured wild scoring and a plethora of plot twists. This time, it was advantage Pittsburgh.

Habs win seventh in a row with more Weber, Price magic


It’s almost starting to feel like a broken record, even if the Montreal Canadiens love this tune.

The Habs kept their red-hot streak going on Saturday, winning their seventh game in a row by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1.

The winning isn’t just getting familiar, it’s also how. For one thing, Shea Weber continues to make a first impression that’s as big as his howling shot, scoring his third game-winning goal of the season:

It’s no surprise that the likes of Alex Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk factored into the win, either. Radulov generated two nice assists, including this great combination of creativity and patience for the opening Galchenyuk tally:

Of course, the most obvious story – the one that feels so familiar it would probably seem boring if it wasn’t so brilliant – is Carey Price‘s dominant play.

The Maple Leafs fired 38 shots on goal against Montreal in a game that had the action of a contest that makes a 2-1 score look very misleading. Price was just on top of things, with only Nazem Kadri beating him tonight.

Really, both teams have good things to take away from this, even if it wasn’t ALL good for Toronto.

Still, you could almost feel the optimism in the air for two marquee franchises hoping to climb the ranks.

Actually, in the Canadiens pace, they merely defended their early-season throne.

Crosby, Pens score 3 goals in 65 seconds, chase Flyers’ Mason


The Philadelphia Flyers were probably feeling pretty good in the first period after building a 2-0 lead. Then Sidney Crosby was … well, Sidney Crosby.

In the span of 65 seconds, the Penguins turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead.

Crosby scored two of those three goals, including this ridiculous snipe from an absurd angle. Watch this goal and just shake your head at how unfair his skill level can be:

His power-play goal was pretty nice, too:

Impressive stuff. Matt Cullen was responsible for the 3-2 tally on a broken play.

Update: Apparently that flurry of goals was too much for the Flyers, who replaced Steve Mason with Michal Neuvirth to start the second period.