James O'Brien

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Video: Shattenkirk saves the day for St. Louis

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In the hyper-competitive Central Division, a win or a loss can really come down to a matter of inches.

In the case of Saturday’s eventual 3-2 shootout win for the St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars seemed to be on the edge of winning multiple times.

Dallas held a 2-1 lead through much of the third period, yet Robby Fabbri managed to score the tying goal. The 3-on-3 overtime period featured some close calls, with Kevin Shattenkirk getting his stick on a would-be game-winner for the Stars:

The two teams engaged in a nine-round shootout that eventually went the Blues’ way.

(This post will be updated with the full overtime footage when it becomes available.)

Dallas sits alone in first place in the West and NHL with 55 points even despite this defeat.

Kings lose Jeff Carter to upper-body injury

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31:  Jeff Carter #77 of the Los Angeles Kings waits to faceoff against the Nashville Predators at Staples Center on October 31, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AP
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Los Angeles is already ensnared in a lull, but things could get rocky if Jeff Carter‘s injury is significant.

All the Kings revealed was that he won’t return to Saturday’s contest against the Arizona Coyotes because of an upper-body injury.

At the moment, there’s no word regarding the severity of the injury beyond sidelining Carter for the remainder of this game.

Jewels from the Crown indicates that Carter was hurt during the opening faceoff.

The only safe bet is that Kings fans are concerned.

The Kings hope to avoid a third straight loss by coming back against the Arizona Coyotes, who currently hold a 1-0 lead.

Update: So far, not so good …

Opposite directions: Caps keep winning, hand Habs another loss

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In early December, Capitals vs. Canadiens was a clash of division-leading titans. It sure feels like a different story as this month draws to a close, especially with Montreal’s Atlantic edge in peril.

Each team continued recent patterns on Saturday night via Washington’s 3-1 win against Montreal.

Winning Washington

This decision gives the Capitals an impressive seven-game winning streak, fattening edges in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division. They’ve won seven in a row, and it goes deeper than that, as Washington is now 14-1-1 in its past 16 games.

If they’re not the best team in the NHL, they’re certainly the hottest.

… And Braden Holtby continues to be a factor.

Malaise for Montreal

Meanwhile, Montreal might just be the iciest bunch of them all, at least among contenders.

This marks six straight losses and and 10 regulation defeats in their past 11 games. What was once an enormous margin in the Atlantic is now a paper-thin edge; the Canadiens are only four standings points removed from sixth-ranked Tampa Bay as of this writing.

The Canadiens haven’t necessarily played poorly on a nightly basis, but there results leave the Habs hobbling into 2016.

This treacherous eight-game road trip ends with opportunities for their division foes to knock them down the ladder, too:

Monday: at Tampa Bay
Tuesday: at Florida
Friday: at Boston
Jan. 5: at Philadelphia

***

Maybe the message is really for the Capitals: things can go south quickly during an 82-game season. They needed only to look at their opponents on Saturday to see as much.

Alex Ovechkin getting a little banged up punctuates that thought.

Eichel erupts as Sabres stun Bruins, leaving Julien in disgust

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Jack Eichel‘s special nights in Boston won’t just be limited to his college days.

The Buffalo Sabres rookie enjoyed the best night of his career so far on Saturday as his first four-point night spurred his team on to a stunning turnaround against the Boston Bruins.

Eichel hit the two-point mark twice before this season, so this is easily the biggest output of his young NHl career.

You’re not going to believe this, but Bruins head coach Claude Julien had negative things to say about the B’s after a third period lead of 3-1 dissolved into a staggering 6-3 loss.

It was already a rough night for the Bruins with Torey Krug going down with an injury, but this is a painful way to return from the holiday break.

No doubt about it, this is a big night for Eichel, formerly of Boston University.

Testy in Tampa: Stamkos scores, Hartnell gets ejected, Johansen fights

Steven Stamkos
AP
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The Tampa Bay Lightning are doing their part to make a recent 1-for-10 power-play night a distant memory, even if it leaves the Columbus Blue Jackets bitter.

There’s a lot going on in this Saturday game, so this post will be updated with videos and a final score when available.

For now, observe Scott Hartnell‘s charging major on Ben Bishop in GIF form:

(Hartnell also received a game misconduct.)

During that same span of time, Ryan Johansen fought Vladislav Namestnikov in one of those rare “finesse player” bouts.

This rough stuff at least in some way overshadowed quite an impressive span of power play work by Steven Stamkos, who is enjoying a three-point game already.

Stamkos already has two goals and one point on the man advantage as Tampa Bay is currently 3-on-7 in this game.

This video includes both Stamkos goals, which happened in a span of 32 seconds.

Update: The Lightning ended up winning 5-2. John Tortorella was not happy with the penalty Hartnell received.