James O'Brien


Downward Ducks: Isles hand Anaheim its third straight loss


Here’s a great way to squander benefit of the doubt: lose three games in a row, all at home.

The first two weeks of November were supposed to be a saving grace for the Anaheim Ducks; unfortunately, they only held up the first half of that bargain.

After winning four games in a row to start the month, they’ve now dropped three straight games, and Friday’s 4-1 defeat (obviously) didn’t even provide them with the solace of a standings point.

Instead, they leave “The Pond” empty-handed after losing to the New York Islanders, and the road ahead looks bumpy at best.

The Ducks face a four-game road trip through “non-traditional” locales: Carolina, Nashville, Florida and finally Tampa Bay. They also play five of six on the road.

The see-saw swings the other way with a nice run of home dates from late November to mid-December, yet once again one has to wonder if Bruce Boudreau’s seat will get too hot in the near future.

As this Natural Stat Trick chart shows, the Islanders probably deserved the win, rather than merely getting “bounces.”


Ducks management has been patient through this slow start, but you think Boudreau’s running out of chances?

Flames keep Ovechkin at 483 goals, beat Caps in OT

Mark Giordano, Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON (AP) Sean Monahan scored his second goal of the game 1:40 into overtime to give the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary and Karri Ramo stopped 34 shots.

Michael Latta and Jay Beagle had the goals for Washington, and Phillipp Grubauer finished with 26 saves.

In overtime, Monahan took a pass from TJ Brodie and beat Grubauer from right in front. Washington coach Barry Trotz challenged the goal, claiming that Monahan was offside, but the goal was quickly confirmed.

Monahan has six goals this season, including four in the last four games.

The Flames, which lost two straight entered the game with the worst record in the Western Conference.

Alex Ovechkin again failed in his attempt to pass Sergei Fedorov for most goals by a Russian-born NHL player. Since scoring his 483rd career goal on Nov. 7 to tie Fedorov, Ovechkin has gone scoreless in three straight games.

Monahan’s first goal came at 1:28 of the third period. His shot flew past Grubauer’s right shoulder, and gave the Flames a 2-0 lead.

Latta’s first goal of the season and just his second in 78 career goals got Washington on the scoreboard with 5:41 gone in the period. It was his first goal since Nov. 15, 2013.

Beagle tied it with just under five minutes to play when he tapped the puck past Ramo from in front.

Frolik’s shot from the slot on a spin move away from the Capitals’ Jason Chimera gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 7:35 of the first period. It was his fourth goal of the season. The other three came on Oct. 31 at Edmonton.

NOTES: Washington D Brooks Orpik missed his second straight game with a lower body injury. … Flames LW Brandon Bollig and Capitals RW Tom Wilson were sent off for fighting early in the third period. … Washington failed in an attempt to win its third consecutive set of back-to-back games

Datsyuk’s return not enough for Detroit against Sharks

Pavel Datsyuk

On a night when Pavel Datsyuk should have been in the spotlight, Jimmy Howard‘s struggles instead took center stage.

The Detroit Red Wings doubled the San Jose Sharks on Friday, yet San Jose managed a 3-2 win.

Yes, there was skill on display from San Jose, but Howard allowing three goals on just 14 shots won’t help him wrestle reps away from Petr Mrazek anytime soon.

In the case of Datsyuk, he was held off the scoreboard, although he did manage four shots on goal.

The start of this month was a nice opportunity for the Red Wings with four of five at home, yet they finished with a fairly pedestrian 3-2-0 mark in that frame.

Detroit’s schedule is still pretty home-heavy until the holiday season really gets into swing, so Datsyuk’s return may still make a big difference amid current struggles.

He just couldn’t make the difference tonight.

Another frustrating night for Crosby (and this time Penguins lose)


Brandon Dubinsky was absent from the Columbus Blue Jackets’ lineup, but that didn’t stop that team from accomplishing the unofficial goal of getting under the Pittsburgh Penguins’ skin.

They frustrated Pittsburgh often in this one, as could be seen in the rocky night for Sidney Crosby (not to mention Patric Hornqvist‘s frustrations late in the game).

Hornqvist channeled some of that energy into a goal and a near-tying-tally that was rightfully waved off, yet the Blue Jackets ultimately scored a 2-1 win on Friday.

Beyond that, um, “exchange” with Fedor Tyutin, Crosby didn’t have a good night. He finished without a point to continue a terrible start – at least by his lofty standards – and also seemed to nearly get injured.

The Penguins have a chance to really soak up some points if they can get things together.

After tomorrow’s road game against the New Jersey Devils, they play four straight in Pittsburgh and five of six at home.

That argues for a positive span, although it could be a curse disguised as a blessing if this offensive funk translates to more defeats.

Meanwhile, Columbus isn’t setting the world on fire with John Tortorella, although they are 5-4-0 in the past nine games … and they can still be a thorn in the side of the Penguins.

Sam Bennett reminds us he’s on a roll with this great move

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It’s easy for a quality rookie to get a little lost in the shuffle among Calder candidates, especially when his team is up-and-down like Calgary’s been.

So, take this as a reminder the Flames youngster Sam Bennett is really heating up, as he made a dazzling play to set up Michael Frolik‘s 1-0 goal against the Washington Capitals.

You can watch the video above.

This marks the seventh straight game where Washington allowed the first goal. The Capitals won four of the previous six, so don’t count Barry Trotz’s bunch out just yet.

Update: The Calgary Flames ended up winning 3-2 in OT, and Alex Ovechkin is still tied with Sergei Fedorov at 483 career goals.