James O'Brien

Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) and goalie Roberto Luongo congratulate each other after the Panthers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 in Sunrise, Fla. Jagr scored twice in the first period and Luongo made 24 saves for his 403rd career victory during the game. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Jagr, Luongo, Panthers keep doing special things


With all due respect to John Vanbiesbrouck’s plastic rat group, the 2015-16 version of the Florida Panthers may be the franchise at its most special.

Either way, it’s been quite a phenomenal run as of late.

Thursday’s 6-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings stands as noteworthy both from team and individual standpoints.

Jaromir Jagr: The Mulleted Marvel generated the 1,110th assist of his illustrious career, and he didn’t take the night off after hitting that milestone. He ended up scoring a goal and two assists overall.

He’s really breathing down history’s neck:

Roberto Luongo: Speaking of history, Luongo reminds us that he’s carving out quite the special place of his own, as he’s now alone in seventh place all-time for wins.

Panthers: It probably feels special enough for the Panthers to beat a gold-standard franchise in the Red Wings by such a margin. The more exciting part for Panthers fans is that it’s just the continuation of a trend. They’re now 17-3-1 in their past 21 games and are on a five-game winning streak.

Whatever way you slice it, the Panthers are providing memorable moments whether you focus on the past, present or future.

Ovechkin, Caps carve out close win vs. Isles

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When you ponder level of play, the gap between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals seems modest.

The standings tell a different story, as the Capitals difference-makers returned and … well, they made the difference.

Alex Ovechkin couldn’t convert on a key chance or two, but he came through when it mattered, scoring a late game-winner in Washington’s 3-2 victory. Braden Holtby also made his return to Washington’s lineup, holding strong to keep the Islanders from sending the contest into overtime.

To some, Ovechkin and Holtby may very well be the difference between the Capitals and everyone else in the East (if not the NHL).

Andre Burakovsky presents a counter-argument: the Caps also boast enviable support, maybe the best Ovechkin’s seen. While Evgeny Kuznetsov rightfully grabs a lot of attention as Washington’s rising young player, Burakovsky’s starting to show why he came into this season with hype of his own.

The margins can be pretty small in an age of parity, yet the Capitals find themselves with 10 more wins than the Islanders after this game.

Why? The quick, boring answer is that they’re just that much better.

WATCH LIVE: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings

The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals are near the end of their competitive game, but that won’t end a strong night of hockey on NBCSN.

Nope, you’re getting a doubleheader on Thursday, and it ends with a battle of California as the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks.

You can watch these bitter neighbors on TV and also via the link below.


After blowing lead, Suter admits Wild are a ‘fragile team’

Winnipeg Jets right wing Chris Thorburn (22) keeps the puck from Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Is blowing a 2-0 lead a “new way” for the Minnesota Wild to lose?

Probably not, but that feeling of frustration lingers, as the New York Rangers stormed back from that deficit to grab a 4-2 win on Thursday.

Minnesota generated that 2-0 lead in the first period, a quick start that possibly angered Rangers head coach Alain Vingeault. The Rangers responded in the middle frame in particular, producing a 14-7 shot advantage and tying things up. As you can see, New York managed four unanswered goals to flip the script.

To little surprise, things are glum for the Wild.

… And you can’t help but wonder if their captain will absorb some of the heat.

In an eyebrow-raising comment, Ryan Suter admits that the Wild are “a fragile team.”

Yikes. Those are the kind of quotes that make you wonder about job security and panic trades.

The West wild card race is unforgiving, to say the least, and Minnesota really can’t afford many more nights like these.

More on Minnesota’s malaise

Mike Yeo said they’re finding different ways to lose

Why this slump could be worse than previous lulls

Another Jaromir Jagr milestone: His 1,100th assist


Jaromir Jagr keeps climbing his way up the all-time scoring ranks, recording milestone after milestone.

The latest one is impressive, too. By setting up Brandon Pirri‘s tip-in goal, Jagr now has 1,100 assists. He’s just the sixth player to cross that barrier in NHL history.

Jagr still has another big step possibly in reach this season, depending upon how well he plays. This was the 1,837th point of Jagr’s career, leaving him just 13 points behind Gordie Howe for third all-time.

1. Wayne Gretzky – 2,857 points
2. Mark Messier – 1,887 points
3. Howe – 1,850 points
4. Jagr – 1,837 points (and counting).