James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Fight videos: Huberdeau shows snarl, Neil gets pumped up

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These aren’t all-time classic brawls, but here are a few fights of note from Saturday.

First, as you can see in the video above, Ottawa Senators tough guy Chris Neil was looking for a fight, and Montreal Canadiens fighter/fringe player Mike Brown obliged, trying to make an impression.

Neil was pretty excited about the entire endeavor, wouldn’t you agree?

Secondly, Jonathan Huberdeau fought for just the second time, as he lost his cool and dropped the gloves with Justin Abdelkader:

Hockey Fights’ audience viewed Adam McQuaid vs. Dwight King as the best bout of last evening, it seems:

Ducks lose David Perron to possible shoulder injury

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David Perron has been a big part of the Anaheim Ducks’ resurgence, so they have to hope that he wasn’t seriously hurt on Sunday.

We know for sure that he won’t return to today’s contest against the Winnipeg Jets after hurting his shoulder/collarbone. For the record, the Ducks are using typical NHL parlance by deeming it an “upper-body injury.”

The OC Register’s Eric Stephens backs up the thought that it’s specifically shoulder or collarbone-related.

Stephanie “My Regular Face” provides two GIF replays of the moment when Perron was hurt:

The Ducks only stated that Perron won’t be back in this tilt, so we’ll need to wait and see regarding longer-term implications.

Kings label Kris Versteeg day-to-day

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The Los Angeles Kings became the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot after beating the Boston Bruins 2-1, but Kris Versteeg got injured during that win.

While Kings head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t go deep on details to LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen, he did say that the team considers Versteeg day-to-day.

“He’s day to day,” Sutter said. “We’ll get him back on this trip some time.”

It’s a pretty short road trip, so that’s a good sign:

Monday: at Nashville
Tuesday: at Minnesota
Thursday: at Winnipeg

This is believed to be the blocked shot that injured Versteeg:

Goalie nods: Niklas Backstrom’s back


Niklas Backstrom is a great reminder that individual players have plenty on the line, even if their teams seem like they’re out of the playoff mix.

Quite frankly, the former Minnesota Wild goalie, debuting for the Calgary Flames, is up against more than the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

He’s also facing a mountain of rust as a goalie who hasn’t played an NHL game in more than a year. Let’s be honest, too: he wasn’t exactly distinguishing himself in 2014-15, at least not in a good way, so Backstrom has a lot to prove on Sunday.

Ideally for him, he’d earn a chance to prove himself a few more time this season if things roll the right way.

On the other side of the ice, Mike Condon hopes to finish his bumpy season with the Habs on a high note.

Elsewhere …

Ducks at Jets: John Gibson vs. Michael Hutchinson

Wild at Blackhawks: Devan Dubnyk vs. Scott Darling

Avalanche at Oilers: Calvin Pickard vs. Laurent Brossoit

Coyotes at Sharks: Mike Smith vs. James Reimer

Blue Jackets at Devils: Possibly Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Scott Wedgewood

Capitals at Penguins: Possibly Braden Holtby vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Brian Elliott earned a shutout in his Blues return


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) A few days off and the return of their goaltender helped the St. Louis Blues snap a short skid and stay within striking distance for the Western Conference lead.

Brian Elliott made 19 saves in his return from injury and the Blues handed the Vancouver Canucks their second straight shutout loss, 3-0 on Saturday night.

St. Louis had dropped two straight but been off since a 6-4 loss to Edmonton on Wednesday. They had a season-high 50 shots on goal against Vancouver.

“I think for our whole team, we needed to have a good game and get a good solid St. Louis Blues type of hockey game,” Elliot said. “We didn’t play well the last couple of outings and this is good. Hopefully we can take it into San Jose and wrap up the road trip with a high.”

Troy Brouwer, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz scored for the Blues, who are two points behind Dallas for the Central Division and Western Conference lead.

This was Elliott’s first game since Feb. 22, when he went down with a lower-body injury. Saturday was his second shutout this season and 32nd of his career.

Vancouver slumped to its fourth straight loss to equal a season high. The struggling Canucks lost 2-0 in Edmonton on Friday.

Ryan Miller made 47 saves for Vancouver.

“That was a rested team that had something to prove to their coach,” Miller said of St. Louis. “I knew they would be focused and ready. That’s the kind of night where you have to weather it and see what you can get out of it.”

Miller started the game strong with a big save on Tarasenko, stopping a 2-on-1 between Robby Fabbri and Brouwer, then shutting the door on Scottie Upshall alone in front of Vancouver’s net. Miller faced 18 shots in the first period.

Elliott had a bit more to do in the second. He gloved a wrist shot off Daniel Sedin‘s breakaway seconds into the period, and 4 minutes later stopped a hard shot from defenseman Dan Hamhuis in the slot.

St. Louis finally broke through at the other end while on the power play at 16:18. Again it was Fabbri and Brouwer with the 2-on-1, but this time Brouwer had a wide open net with Miller out of position.

“Fabbri did a good job faking everybody out and was able to slide it over to me for an empty netter,” Brouwer said. “We did a lot of good things to generate a lot of great opportunities tonight.”

Brouwer almost had another before the period’s end when he spun around and beat Miller a split second after the buzzer went off. It was the end of another busy period for Miller, who faced 37 shots through two.

Daniel Sedin was back at it in the third with a clean look from the slot, but again Elliott denied the Swede’s dangerous wrist shot.

Tarasenko doubled the lead when he deposited a big rebound off Schwartz’s shot at 11:54. It was Tarasenko’s 34th of the year and the 100th of his career.

“It’s actually really a better feeling because we win today and thanks to my teammates to make me reach this 100 and hope more to come,” Tarasenko said.

Schwartz added some insurance with an empty-netter.

NOTES: Vancouver called up veteran Chris Higgins from Utica (AHL) for the first time since sending him down in January.