James O'Brien

Return of the swag? Lightning coach saw it tonight


Jon Cooper said he wasn’t worried about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s tepid start to the 2015-16 season, but it has to be uncomfortable to see all that talent produce so little.

Sunday provided a real ray of hope, as the Lightning didn’t just beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3; they enjoyed some key contributions from guys who’ve been struggling.

Maybe some of it came from shaking up forward lines a bit – sorry, fans of “The Triplets” – but either way, Cooper acknowledged that extra burst.

“You felt our swag coming back during the game,” Cooper said, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.

(You know that Cooper’s a young coach when he “swag” enters the building.)

The biggest sigh of relief may come for Tyler Johnson, who finally scored his first goal of 2015-16. He was off to a slow start last season, too, so maybe this is just a matter of getting back in the groove?

Check out Johnson’s goal in the video above.

Beyond Johnson’s goal, the Lightning saw points for key players including Ryan Callahan (goal), Steven Stamkos (also a goal) and Nikita Kucherov (his first two assists of the season).

Today’s win began a four-game road trip for the Bolts, but after that November is heavy on home dates. If they can get their confidence back, perhaps they can put an up-and-down October behind them.

Is Dustin Byfuglien going over the line?


Dustin Byfuglien ranks as one of the NHL’s most unusual weapons.

The problem is that one factor that makes him so unique – his significant size – can become a problem because he’s not afraid to throw his body around.

He provided at least one questionable hit so far in tonight’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets, as he went out of his way to check Brendan Gallagher.

No video yet, but Habs Eyes on the Prize’s Marc Dumont has it in GIF form:

Canadiens fans complained that he delivered two shaky shots on Sunday, for what it’s worth:

However you feel about specific instances, it’s tough not to ask … is Byfuglien a little out of control?

It seems like he avoids a suspension more often than not, but the cases are starting to pile up. Would a suspension settle him down or is this just the price of doing business in general?

Wherever you stand, the bottom line is that he’s been a force on the ice on almost a nightly basis.

Fear the Beard: Burns powers Sharks win

DENVER (AP) A day after a tough loss in Dallas, the San Jose Sharks weren’t going to let another game get away from them in the third period.

Brent Burns made sure of it.

Burns broke a tie with 1:39 left and the Sharks beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Sunday.

“It’s never easy with our group, but we found a way,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “A big two points, as big as two points can get 10 games into the season. We needed them. We had done enough to be close but not enough to earn a win.”

Burns made it 3-2 when he came down the right boards and sent a snap shot through traffic and past goalie Semyon Varlamov. The goal was upheld under review.

Center Patrick Marleau had two assists, including one on Burns’ winner, to move within four points of 1,000 for his career.

“Patty made a great play delaying, created some space,” Burns said. “Their guys all just kind of collapsed down and I was able to jump in and I just kind of shot it on net.”

Burns also had a short-handed goal in the second period, Joe Pavelski and Joel Ward added goals, and Martin Jones stopped 23 shots. Coming off a 5-3 loss in Dallas on Saturday, the Sharks won for the second time in seven games to improve to 6-5-0.

“We’ve dropped a lot of games lately,” Marleau said. “We’ve had some good efforts, some not so good efforts. Tonight we came out with pretty good effort and found a way to get those two points.”

Pavelski had an empty-net goal 19 seconds after Burns’ second goal, and Colorado made it a one-goal game on Dennis Everberg‘s shot with 1:05 left. The Avalanche pulled Varlamov for the final 1:05 seconds, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

Jarome Iginla and Francios Beauchemin also scored for Colorado. The Avalanche are 1-4-1 at home and 3-7-1 overall. They were close to reaching overtime and earning at least a point Sunday, but confusion on defensive coverage helped San Jose win it regulation.

“They took advantage of a bad line change and bad positioning in our (defensive) zone and they scored that winning goal,” coach Patrick Roy said. “Both teams played hard. It’s just a frustrating situation right now. We do a lot of good things out there and we just can’t get rewarded.”

The Avalanche got off to a quick start with Iginla’s fourth goal of the season at 5:17 of the first period. It was Colorado’s second power-play goal in the last six games and Iginla’s 593rd career goal.

“We’ve struggled lately to score goals on the power play. Finally, we did some good things today,” Beauchemin said. “Five-on-five, we just couldn’t generate much. The difference is really small but it’s right there for us.”

The lead didn’t last long. Iginla’s turnover along the boards led to Ward’s goal 1:43 later. It was Ward’s seventh goal of the season, all in the last six games.

Colorado had a chance to take the lead midway through the second when it went on the power play, but San Jose struck instead. Burns’ shot from the right boards went under Matt Duchene‘s right arm and past Varlamov at 12:03 of the period. The Avalanche tied it 21 seconds later when Beauchemin knocked in Gabriel Landeskog‘s shot for his first goal of the season.

NOTES: Colorado scored two power-play goals for the first time in nine games. The Avalanche entered the day 1 for 24 with the man advantage over the previous five games. … The Sharks played back-to-back afternoon games for the first time since Feb. 17-18, 2008. … Avalanche D Nikita Zadorov was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Monday hearing for Mark Stone after hit on Landon Ferraro

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The Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for Ottawa Senators winger Mark Stone for his hit on Detroit Red Wings forward Landon Ferraro from Saturday.

You can see the check in the video above.

Stone received a two-minute minor for illegal check to the head during the game itself.

The Red Wings ended up winning the game 5-3.

Stone, 23, has not been suspended during his young NHL career.

John Tavares is out sick again tonight, this time vs. Buffalo

John Tavares

John Tavares must be suffering from a pretty significant bug right now.

After missing Saturday’s eventual shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders’ captain will also sit out Sunday’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres.

Maybe it’s just a matter of an ill-timed illness, although when you consider how … not-so-forthcoming NHL teams can be with injury information, you never know.

Overall, it’s a long season, so giving their workhorse a breather might be the wise move.

Perhaps Islanders fans should be a little more concerned if Tavares cannot play on Tuesday, either (although some sicknesses are tougher to kick than others).