James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Ovechkin, Giroux among Thursday heroes beyond regulation

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Thursday has seen some really nice performances beyond regulation, whether they be in overtime or in shootouts (or a combination of the two).

Let’s take a look at some of the standout moments after the first 60 minutes of competition then, shall we?

First, we start with Alex Ovechkin‘s 91st game-winning goal, set up by John Carlson:

One of the more scintillating moments of the night came when Vincent Trocheck ended an exciting overtime between the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers with this nice goal:

Finally, Claude Giroux enjoyed a fine night for the Philadelphia Flyers, making a difference for the struggling New York Islanders. His shootout goal stood out among other moments:

The NHL is lacking in more glaring lesser lights so far this season, so for all we know, it could come down to superlative performances in overtime and beyond in 2016-17. On Thursday, Ovechkin, Trocheck and Giroux made the difference for their respective teams.

Senators don’t miss a beat after Condon replaces Anderson

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Craig Anderson faced a tough assignment in coming into the Ottawa Senators net amid personal turmoil, but don’t sleep on what Mike Condon was going through on Thursday night.

Condon’s issues have been more athletic than personal, even if scrambling to find somewhere to live is pretty personal in its own right; with Montreal going in a different direction, the fringe NHL goalie has been bouncing around the league. Now he must follow up Anderson’s incredible, emotional performances on an Ottawa Senators team that … let’s be honest, hasn’t been super-friendly to a goalie.

So, how does Condon respond against a struggling Vancouver Canucks team with little time to prepare? Well, he kept things going in getting a shutout in Ottawa’s 1-0 shutout.

Granted, the Senators did a better of job of sheltering their new goalie than they did with Anderson, who had to put out superlative performances.

Condon needed to make a manageable 27 saves against the Canucks, and the physical stuff stole much of the story:

Whatever way you slice it, Guy Boucher’s Senators are now on a three-game winning streak in which they’ve allowed a single goal. Pretty impressive for a so-so team that was really struggling to keep the puck out of its own net to start the season.

Hayes keeps Rangers’ offensive machine humming vs. Oilers

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Hey, did you hear that Kevin Hayes lost 20 lbs. during the off-season?

It’s unclear if a lighter version of that power forward is the real difference right now, but either way, Hayes and the New York Rangers’ offense is just on another level as of late.

From Cam Talbot to Connor McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers enjoyed some great moments on Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough against the rumbling Rangers. New York won 5-3 in a scintillating contest.

The Rangers won a third straight game and managed their sixth win in seven contests. During this three-game winning streak, New York generated a lofty 16-4 goal differential.

And, again, Hayes has been in the thick of things for a guy who lost all that weight. Consider his work during this three-game winning streak:

Tonight: one goal, two assists, nice overall stats including +2
Nov.1 against Blues: one goal, +1
Oct. 30 against Lightning: three assists, +4

Wow.

That’s impressive work for Hayes, a guy who occasionally found himself in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse last season.

The beauty of the situation for the Rangers is that they aren’t counting on Hayes do this every night. Their remarkably deep group of forwards means that they can ride hot hands from night to night, especially if key figures can stay healthy.

It’s the sort of luxury that can take that Big Apple limelight away from Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot and other standouts from Edmonton.

Jets lose Perreault, Armia to injuries

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The Winnipeg Jets lost the first of two games against the Washington Capitals despite a 45-27 shot advantage, and it was looking like they’d be out of luck again going down 3-0. Now it’s 3-3, but sadly for Jets fans, it’s not all good news.

That’s because the team announced that both Mathieu Perreault and Joel Armia won’t return to Thursday’s games thanks to injuries.

Perreault is suffering from an upper-body injury while Armia is a lower-body issue. The team didn’t reveal how severe either issue is, but it’s really a bummer for a Jets team that might have felt like its luck might have been turning, even ever so slightly.

Leafs edge Sabres thanks to Marner, Andersen

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It’s been a rocky start for Frederik Andersen as the No. 1 guy in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ net, but there have been some promising moments lately.

Thursday’s first period against the Buffalo Sabres might dominate his 2016-17 highlight reel, though.

The headliner is the ridiculous lateral movement he showed in stopping what seemed like a certain goal for Zemgus Girgensons. You can see that jaw-dropper in the video above.

For your click’s worth, also enjoy his stops against Matt Moulson from that same, impressive opening frame:

That will silence (or at least lower the volume on) a few critics …

Update: Ultimately, Andersen only needed Mitch Marner‘s two goals on Thursday, as the Maple Leafs beat the Sabres 2-1 in a display of two teams showing early 2016-17 promise.