Author: James O'Brien

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

Video: Predators ride Neal’s hat trick to win vs. Blackhawks


It took a few games for James Neal to get the lay of the land with Nashville, but now he’s really starting to pay dividends for the Predators. The hard-shooting power forward scored his first hat trick with his new team during Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Let’s just say hat tricks aren’t a common sight for Predators fans:

Here’s video of his hat trick:

After generating a 21-15 shot advantage against Chicago through the first 40 minutes, Nashville held on for dear life in the closing minutes. Pekka Rinne managed to hold off a Blackhawks attack (17 shots to the Preds’ six), as Andrew Shaw was the only Blackhawk to beat him in the third period.

Nashville improves to 5-0-2 (including taking three out of a possible four points in two home games against Chicago) while the Blackhawks suffered their first regulation loss, falling to 4-1-1.

It remains to be seen if the Predators are for real, but if any statement comes from this outcome, it’s that Neal and Rinne can take over a game … even against the NHL’s elite.

Video: Red Wings’ stars stun Penguins with late surge

Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes

The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed like they had a victory sealed quite a few times against the Red Wings on Thursday, yet Detroit’s biggest stars pulled off a stunning comeback to win 4-3 in OT instead.

The Red Wings scored two goals in a two-minute span with their net empty to send the game to overtime. After some promising chances in extended play, Justin Abdelkader fired home the game-winner, handing the Penguins two defeats on a tough back-to-back set.

Sidney Crosby had a breakaway opportunity to make it 4-1 for Pittsburgh, but Jimmy Howard made a huge stop to keep Detroit within striking distance:

Mike Babcock removed Howard from the net with a healthy amount of time left in the third period, which turned out to be a deft move (which might prompt a nod to Patrick Roy). Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk took over the game from there.

First, Zetterberg made it 3-2 on this blistering shot:

Evgeni Malkin, Blake Comeau and Pascal Dupuis had a few chances to end the rush with sustained possession in Detroit’s zone with an empty net, yet they couldn’t score. The Red Wings took advantage when Datsyuk made an unreal pass – and an audacious decision not to shoot – which opened things up for Kronwall’s second goal and third point of the night:

Abdelkader had a great night of his own, with the biggest moment coming when he scored the overtime clincher:

Report: Isles’ Bailey out indefinitely after breaking hand

San Jose Sharks v New York Islanders

New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey suffered a hand injury and won’t return for the third period against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Update: Bad news from New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple: Bailey suffered a broken hand and is out indefinitely.

Bailey, 25, is one of those young Islanders whose progress (or failure to progress) may very well determine if this team will be a dangerous contender in 2014-15.

The ninth pick of the 2008 NHL Draft’s development has been frustrating for the Islanders, yet he’s shown signs of turning the corner in this very young season. With an assist in tonight’s game against Boston, he has four points in seven games. His possession stats have been steadily improving lately, too.

Maybe the most promising sign is that Isles observers are concerned that he might miss some time:

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara also left this contest with an undisclosed issue. The Islanders ended up winning 3-2 tonight.

Chara suffers undisclosed issue, won’t return on Thursday

Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres

Update: The latest rumor is that Zdeno Chara’s issue is knee-related and that he could miss four-to-six weeks.


It’s unclear what is bothering Zdeno Chara, but it’s bad enough to end his Thursday night early. The Boston Bruins announced that he won’t return to tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, yet they didn’t even indicate which half of his body has been damaged.

The precise moment of injury is unclear. Perhaps the best guess is that Chara ended up getting the worst from his big hit on Islanders star John Tavares.

Here’s video of the collision:

Of course, it could be any number of other factors. At 37, Chara’s in that age range where injuries become more common, even for noted workout warriors like himself.

With such little information available, it might not even be a traditional “injury,” as the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin notes.

On a night when Bruins fans warmly embraced former defenseman Johnny Boychuk, his absence may seem that much more glaring.

The Bruins weren’t offering any updates after tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders:

Penguins move Malkin back to center

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins

There’s some solid logic to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ experiment with Evgeni Malkin on the wing.

While he’s enjoying cushy offensive zone starts as usual, having a center like Brandon Sutter doing the “dirty work” theoretically opens things up even more for Malkin. The 28-year-old also isn’t the most dominant guy in the faceoff circle, only winning 48.8 percent of his draws last season.

Still, such thinking can end up being similar to the debate regarding playing Alex Ovechkin at RW instead of his familiar LW spot: sometimes it’s best just to leave a star player where he’s comfortable.’s Wes Crosby reports that Malkin is expected to center a line with Pascal Dupuis and Blake Comeau as Pittsburgh ends a back-to-back set against the Detroit Red Wings tonight. This likely bumps Sutter down to his typical third-line center spot.

Malkin at RW certainly wasn’t a disaster, mind you; he managed eight points in five games (although only three of those came at even-strength). Going back to center might mean that the puck will be on his stick more often, however, which is rarely a bad thing.

The biggest hurdle may be linemate-related, though, really. While Patric Hornqvist has been brilliant alongside Sidney Crosby, it’s easy to see why “Geno” misses his buddy James Neal.