Author: James O'Brien

Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau’s first hat trick helps Flames stun Kings


It started off as one of those typical “phone it in” type games, but for all their flaws, it’s probably foolish to label Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames as quitters.

They were down 3-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. After tonight, the Flames are off until Saturday.

A less spirited team may have slumped its shoulders and taken its ninth loss in a row.

Gaudreau instead lit a fire in his team and sparked a resounding 4-3 OT comeback win instead.

The spritely 21-year-old generated the first hat trick of his career, and he did it in “natural” fashion in erasing a 3-0 deficit to a 3-3 tie. He nearly iced it in overtime, too, but Mark Giordano instead did the trick with less than a minute left in extra time.

Take a look at Gaudreau’s hat trick in the videos below.

If there’s one lesson from “The Gaudreau Show,” it’s that you might not want to turn it off before it’s over.

Fowler after Ducks’ win vs. Sharks: ‘We never give up’

Toronto Maple Leafs play the Anaheim Ducks
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December was supposed to be a month that would really test an Anaheim Ducks team that still draws plenty of doubters. Instead, they’ve really just distanced themselves from the Pacific Division pack.

The San Jose Sharks have been just as hot this month, so the new state rivals presented an intriguing battle, and they didn’t disappoint. Ultimately, Ryan Kesler’s overtime game-winner ended up making the difference as Anaheim won 3-2 (OT).

That’s the kind of shot that prompted the Ducks to trade Kesler for, but it turns out that Antti Niemi had foiled the American-born forward on previous occasions tonight:

The Ducks have dealt with injuries and illnesses (not to mention a stretch in which they played seven of eight games on the road from Dec. 5-19), yet they keep winning games. If you ask Cam Fowler, it’s just a matter of will.

“We continue to develop the mentality that we never give up,” Fowler said. “We’ll go into this break and enjoy this win.”

It’s been quite a run for the Sharks since they fell to 10-10-4 in a 2-0 loss to the Calgary Flames on Nov. 26. Since then, San Jose went 9-1-1 in 11 games.

That hasn’t been enough to gain much ground against Anaheim – they’re 8-2-0 in 10 games – but San Jose now finds themselves second in the division.

Not bad for a team that was in dire condition not that long ago, yet the Ducks can still gloat that they’re a stride or two ahead of the Sharks.

Ducks’ Jackman won’t return after hit by Sharks’ Scott

Tim Jackman, John Scott

The Anaheim Ducks announced that Tim Jackman won’t return to Monday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. It appears that he was injured after being butt-ended by John Scott on this play:

Scott didn’t receive a penalty during the play, as it may have gone unnoticed in real time. The 32-year-old is probably on the Department of Player Safety’s speed dial at this point, so we’ll see if something comes of this situation.

Mike Smith’s misery continues


Is Devan Dubnyk “the answer” for the Arizona Coyotes? That’s tough to say, but it’s getting tougher and tougher to watch Mike Smith melt down.

The 32-year-old barely made it into the second period of Monday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks before he was mercifully pulled from the Coyotes’ net. He allowed four goals on just 11 shots in yet another demoralizing effort.

At this point, you wonder what the Coyotes should do.

Should they send him to the AHL for a “conditioning stint”? Perhaps a sports psychologist needs to come on the scene?

It’s becoming difficult to trust Smith to fight through these issues. Then again, Arizona has so much invested in him that they’ll just need to stick it out (at least this season).

Just look at his distressing game log even before today’s game (via


Yeah, that’s not too hot.

Update: Dubnyk’s night wasn’t that much more pleasant, as Vancouver eventually won 7-1. Yikes.

Panthers hold off Penguins for shootout win

Roberto Luongo, Evgeni Malkin

One team just seems to do enough to win even with mounting injuries and illnesses. The other has been winning a lot lately, even if people mainly pay attention to their occasional attendance issues.

The Pittsburgh Penguins showed some moxie in grabbing a point on Monday, but the Florida Panthers ultimately got the “W” via a 4-3 shootout victory.

The Penguins grabbed an early 1-0 lead that they protected through most of the second period, but Jussi Jokinen scorned his former team by tying it 1-1 with about 30 seconds left in the middle frame. Jimmy Hayes scored twice early in the third period to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead, yet goals by Nick Spaling and Evgeni Malkin sent it to OT.

The Panthers generated a 37-27 shot advantage on Monday, yet Marc-Andre Fleury helped his team stay in there.

Many believe that Sean Bergenheim’s hit on Bobby Farnham served as one of the pivotal moments of the contest:

(Bergenheim also collected two assists, if you’re into more objective measures.)

Oh yeah, there was also that absolutely wicked Aleksander Barkov shootout goal:

Not to mention Roberto Luongo’s brilliant shootout save on Chris Kunitz:

Pittsburgh’s success has been remarkable with all of its health issues, as they’ve generated a point in all but one December contest, going 6-1-3 in its last 10 games. The Panthers haven’t been far behind with a 6-3-2 record in December.

There’s plenty of season left, but the Panthers made a statement that they shouldn’t be taken lightly while the Penguins showed that they’ll be a tough out even with plenty of players out of the lineup.