James O'Brien

Rangers survive Sabres’ surge, rebound from being shut out


Here’s hoping you didn’t miss the third period of the Rangers’ eventual 6-3 win against the Sabres.

When Derick Brassard made it 3-1 early in the final frame, it seemed like the Rangers might sleepwalk through a win. They did win … but not before a Sabres-fueled scare.

Jack Eichel made some brilliant plays to set up two Zemgus Girgensons goals a little mroe than a minute apart, and all of a sudden, it was 3-3.

To New York’s credit, they responded to that bold push by Buffalo, as J.T. Miller scored another game-winner just a minute after Girgensons tied it up.

The margin expanded with a pretty power-play goal and an empty-netter to finish with that 6-3 margin, and now the Rangers can breathe a sigh of relief heading into the All-Star break.

While Buffalo lost – and let’s face it, maybe that’s for the best for a team in the East’s cellar – they also made a decent argument that these contests will be closer in the not-too-distant future.

Derick Brassard earned “The Broadway Hat,” and deservedly so, as he scored two goals and three assists.

Canadiens’ collapse resumes with loss to Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets' William Karlsson, right, of Sweden, works against Montreal Canadiens' Torrey Mitchell during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

You know things are bad when a center-ice goal just provides a brief bit of joy.

The Montreal Canadiens stopped the bleeding from their troubling losing streak on Saturday, yet that shootout win only provided momentary relief.

They fell back down tonight, dropping a 5-2 loss to the banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets, who don’t even have a healthy head coach.

It’s just been that sort of stretch for Montreal. Since a 3-2 loss to the Capitals on Dec. 3, the Habs have hobbled to a 5-17-1 record.

That’s truly one of those double-take deals, as Montreal only has three wins (and has only generate seven standings points) so far in 2016.

The game was tied 2-2 heading into the third, but Columbus bounced back from that embarrassing goal. Brandon Saad scored the game-winner and added an empty-netter while dog-winner Cam Atkinson grabbed a hat trick.

In about 11 minutes, it went from a possible confidence-builder to an embarrassing night for Montreal, who will turn around and host Columbus tomorrow.

Things are so ugly, you almost wonder about Michel Therrien as the All-Star break nears … but hey, he does have the vote of confidence, right?

What’s better: Center-ice goal or dog-winning goal?

Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

There’s a racket going on in NHL arenas lately.

1. A kid brings a “Player X, score a goal so I can have a doggie”-type sign.

2. Player scores one goal, if not more.

3. Coach and kid high five, presumably.

The question, though, is which entertains you more: a goal that lands a child a cuddly, fluffy beast or a monstrous goal from way downtown?

Tonight’s Columbus Blue Jackets – Montreal Canadiens game provides an example of both.

First, here’s P.K. Subban scoring a long-distance goal:

Then, there’s Cam Atkinson granting a puppy wish, his first tally of two (and maybe counting):

Aside: if Atkinson gets a third goal, is it a dog trick? Did he already generate a DWG (dog-winning goal)? So many questions.


Bobby Ryan innovates with the DWG

Habs’ Carr injured, won’t return to Monday’s game

Montreal Canadiens left wing Daniel Carr (43) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Daniel Carr gave the Montreal Canadiens a shot in the arm in his return to the lineup, but that appears to be short-lived.

The Habs announced that Carr won’t return to Monday’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets thanks to a lower-body injury.

There isn’t video available of the moment of injury (yet?). Here’s a GIF that makes it look like it could be knee-related:

Ouch. Carr isn’t a major contributor for the Canadiens. Still, this struggling team can use all the help they can get.

Stamkos plays coy about contract rumors


Did the Tampa Bay Lightning really offer Steven Stamkos an eight-year, $68 million contract?

We may not know for some time – if ever – but Stamkos isn’t telling. He wasn’t being very forthcoming with the Tampa Bay Tribune on Monday, as you can see.

“Whether it was true or not, there has been a lot said — things that haven’t been true, and people have said things that are true,” Stamkos said. “And you have to make a story when things are not going on. So, all the stuff that we have talked about will stay internal and we’ll go from there.’’

OK, then.

According to many commenters, an $8.5 million annual salary probably wouldn’t be able to lock Stamkos down, even with the familiarity and chance to compete in Tampa Bay.

Chances are, if the years and dollars are right, Stamkos won’t need to be so guarded.

Of course, it could easily take months for that to happen.