Author: James O'Brien

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets take sixth in a row in thriller vs. Pens


Things haven’t gone the Columbus Blue Jackets’ way very often this season – to say the least – but a thriller against their 2014 playoff opponents conjured memories of last year’s dangerous team.

The Blue Jackets won their sixth consecutive game via a 4-3 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a contest that was as electric as the Columbus crowd.

As usual for Columbus, it wasn’t easy.

Kris Letang was in vintage form on Saturday, scoring a 2-1 goal and the game-tying tally with about 11 seconds left. The Blue Jackets just seemed like they wouldn’t be denied, especially when Boone Jenner scored on a dramatic penalty shot:

Again, the Blue Jackets looked a lot like the 2013-14 squad that really came on late in the season, generating a relentless attack. Head coach Todd Richards didn’t deny the resemblance.

“That was our M.O. last year: our resiliency and finding a way,” Richards said. “Our guys stuck with it.”

Cam Atkinson’s take was simpler: “That was a lot of fun.”

It certainly was a lot of fun to watch; it was the sort of contest that likely made fans of the sport pine for a playoff rematch. At 12-15-2, it would take an epic run for Columbus to make that happen … but would you really want to question their scrappy outlook?

Isles ‘outwork’ Blackhawks, end Chicago’s eight-game run


If you look at the box score, the story of the New York Islanders beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 was all about the Isles scoring two goals in less than one minute.

The Blackhawks view it as a matter of work ethic, though.

Both Jonathan Toews and Dan Carcillo emphasized as much after the loss, which saw the end of Chicago’s eight-game winning streak. Toews praised Scott Darling, but not the team effort, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

“We just didn’t work for pucks, we didn’t generate chances, we didn’t really make them do things they didn’t want to do,” Toews said.

Carcillo echoed those thoughts:

Still, that two-goal burst also made a big difference, even surpassing a sublime Patrick Kane goal. Here’s video of that duo of goals:

One can argue that the Islanders needed this one the most, as they ended a three-game skid with this win.

The Blackhawks don’t seem too broken up about it, really.

Rare Backstrom hat trick powers Caps’ win against Bolts

during an NHL game at Verizon Center on December 13, 2014 in Washington, DC.

To some, Nicklas Backstrom is basically the Swedish Joe Thornton, as he piles up assists while rarely scoring many goals.

Let’s hope he doesn’t ponder the same sort of celebrations that “Jumbo Joe” mentioned regarding Tomas Hertl’s four-goal night, however, as Backstrom showed he’s not a total slouch in the goals department tonight.

His first career regular-season hat trick powered the Washington Capitals’ 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Here’s video of Backstrom’s trio, which included two Alex Ovechkin assists:

Speaking of unusual events, the hat haul apparently included a Santa cap:

Apparently Backstrom’s scored a hat trick in his NHL career, just not in the regular season, as Mike Vogl of the team’s website notes that he collected one against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of that tide-turning 2010 playoff series:

Video: Leafs’ Panik scores, leaves Detroit dumbfounded

Dallas Stars v Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Richard Panik left the Detroit Red Wings bench dumbfounded on Saturday, and it wasn’t because of all the puns his last name prompted.

Instead, it was the turn of events that led to this dazzling goal:

Someone’s going to GIF those Red Wings reactions, right?

More Minnesota mumps? Spurgeon out with ‘illness’

St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild

Hey, at least it’s a win for alliteration: the mind-boggling Minnesota mumps mayhem continues, or at least it seems that way.

The Wild announced that Jared Spurgeon had to miss Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes because of an “illness.”

It’s difficult for anyone to assume that such an “illness” is anything but mumps. Let’s take a look at the litany of illness issues that have impeded the Wild in particular:

Spurgeon, 25, got sick during warm-ups, forcing the Wild to face the Coyotes with 17 skaters tonight.

At least there were some jokes, though, right?

Update: Spurgeon’s absence meant a big burden for Suter: