James O'Brien

St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera, top, of Finland, tangles with Los Angeles Kings right wing Marian Gaborik, of Slovakia, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Blues break losing streak, overcome questionable McNabb hit


It hasn’t always been pretty, but the St. Louis Blues are doing what they need to do to survive in the modern NHL.

The standings points are coming even when style points are in low supply. The Blues broke a five-game losing streak on Saturday by edging the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 via a shootout, yet it wasn’t really the type of win you’d do a ton of gloating about.

They couldn’t take advantage of a major penalty stemming from this questionable hit by Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb on Magnus Paajarvi:

That late advantage wasn’t what propelled the Blues to victory, at least directly. St. Louis only managed 16 shots on goal, too, even with a full overtime period thrown in.

As many negatives seem to stack up, the bigger picture is of a team that’s finding ways to stick with it. Injuries have been a season-long issue, and that continued with Jake Allen and Jay Bouwmeester being out of the mix.

Even their losing streak featured traces of resiliency, as St. Louis generated three standings points from those five losses. With other Central Division teams not named the Chicago Blackhawks struggling lately, give the Blues some credit for rolling with the punches.

Now they get a few days to shake off this tough stretch; they begin a four-game homestand on Tuesday.

Maybe they’ll manage a few more impressive moments then?

(H/T to The Score.)

Pens stay hot as Fleury spurns Canadiens


MONTREAL (AP) Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots, Bryan Rust scored his first goal of the season to put Pittsburgh ahead in the second period, and the Penguins beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 Saturday night.

Patric Hornqvist and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who are 3-1-2 in their last six games.

P.K. Subban scored for Montreal and Mike Condon, playing for the injured Carey Price, finished with 29 saves. Canadiens coach Michel Therrien announced Friday that Price would not play until after the All-Star break.

Subban tied the score with 9:21 left in the second period with his second of the season – and first in 34 games – on a one-timer from the point.

Rust put the Penguins in front for good, beating Condon top shelf on a breakaway with his second career goal about 3 1/2 minutes later.

Fehr added a short-handed empty-netter with 10 seconds left in regulation.

Montreal has not won consecutive games since late November.

The Penguins were all over the Canadiens for much of the game, beating them to loose pucks and applying constant pressure on the puck carrier.

With Torrey Mitchell in the box for high sticking in the second, Hornqvist eluded Montreal’s defense and slotted home his ninth of the season from the edge of the crease at 7:18 to make it 1-0.

Evgeni Malkin got an assist on the goal, his ninth point in his last six games.

Pittsburgh’s power play, ranked 15th overall in the NHL, has been dominant over the last four weeks, scoring 11 goals in their last 10 games.

Fleury made 16 saves in the third period.

Condon had to be sharp in the first period to keep the game scoreless. He made a sensational pad save on Sidney Crosby early on, and made back-to-back stops on Malkin and Kris Letang late in the period.

Condon was less dominant in the second, however, when Hornqvist and Rust prevented him from getting his fourth consecutive victory.

NOTES: Greg Pateryn was in the lineup for Montreal in place of the injured Jeff Petry (lower body). … Andrei Markov was reunited with Subban on Montreal’s top defensive pairing. They each played more than 27 minutes. … Pittsburgh’s Tom Kuhnhackl, 23, made his season debut. … This was the last of three meetings between the Canadiens and Pengins this season.

Blood, big checks and drama in Wild win vs. Stars

Screen via Fox Sports/Sportsnet

When hockey fans get defensive and insist that a 2-1 game can be exciting and memorable, they point to contests like the Minnesota Wild’s 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars.

  • The Stars seemingly scored the opening goal, but it was negated by a coach’s challenge, as officials believed that Antoine Roussel kept Devan Dubnyk from making the save.
  • Dubnyk kept the Wild in even as the Stars carried the play for chunks of time, particularly in the third period.
  • Stars fans lost a lot of their ability to vent about that negated goal after Tyler Seguin got away with what likely should have been at least a double-minor (if not a major?) high-sticking penalty on Jared Spurgeon:

(Spurgeon returned to the game, so that’s a good sign despite all the blood.)

  • Jamie Benn broke his pointless slump, but he took a huge hit late in the contest:

Benn scored later on, so he’s seemingly OK, yet wow.

It’s the sort of game that probably left the somewhat-struggling Stars a little extra winded.


So, yes, it was a low-scoring game. Plenty of happened as Minnesota finally held onto a lead against Dallas and won 2-1 tonight.

Touched down: Sharks crunch Leafs 7-0


The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t that far removed from riding high on a fairly impressive point streak, but those memories probably felt pretty distant on Saturday night.

Perhaps reacting to the NFL’s wild card round, the San Jose Sharks drubbed the Maple Leafs 7-0 tonight.

Martin Jones was forced to make some tough stops early on before the Sharks pulled away. The best highlight might have been Brent Burns‘ impressive work for what was the game-winning goal, but Tomas Hertl and Justin Braun were the other Sharks who stood out.

Here’s an easy way to summarize a rotten night for the Buds: Shawn Matthias and Morgan Rielly were the only Toronto players to avoid a negative rating in this one-sided affair.

It’s not a situation where Jonathan Bernier‘s taking all the blame, either.

After beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-0 on Wednesday, the Maple Leafs have seen that the tour of California’s still a challenging trek, as they also fell to Los Angeles on Thursday.

The Maple Leafs are forced to stew in this one, too, as they won’t play again until they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

Mike Babcock might just want to “burn the tape” here.

Video: Karlsson, Zibanejad combine for a beauty, Sens win in OT


Quite a few people believe that Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson deserves consideration for the Hart Trophy, not just a Norris for his work in 2015-16.

The play he made to set up Mika Zibanejad‘s 1-0 goal against the Boston Bruins might be the first bullet point of his resume.

Watch as the Senators move the puck with skill and grace in the video above. The Bruins already managed to tie it up.

Even if Karlsson doesn’t score again tonight, he has more than a point per game with 44 in 42 … and that’s if he’s silent during the rest of this contest.

Update: Ottawa won 2-1 in OT after a thrilling 3-on-3 session against Boston.

Maybe the best news is that Bobby Ryan seemingly bounced back from this: