James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Late goal means it wasn’t all bad luck for Lightning vs. Red Wings


It was a turbulent trip, but the Tampa Bay Lightning ultimately beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Tuesday.

The question is: will Steven Stamkos‘ injury be serious enough that the night will be deemed a net loss?

MORE: Video of Stamkos injury

That’s an unsettling question for the Bolts to consider, but in the mean time, they got a “gutsy win,” as Keith Jones said after the game. There’s some narrative symmetry to Stamkos scoring a goal to push himself closer to the league’s scoring leaders, only to get hurt … and then Nikita Kucherov rose himself with a huge, late goal.

After starting the scoring on Tuesday, Kucherov generated his second goal of the night (and eighth of 2016-17) to win the game with a little more than a minute remaining in the third period.

You can forgive the Red Wings for being a little thunderstruck by that 4-3 tally.

The Red Wings fought back hard from a 3-1 deficit to tie things up and also seemed to come a post or two away from getting a lead against Ben Bishop. The Lighning survived, however, and ultimately rode that late Kucherov goal to a regulation win.

Tampa Bay now has wins in the first two games of a five-game road trip, a great start for a span that also rounds out to eight road games in 10 appearances stretching back to Monday.

To shake off injuries and manage wins on back-to-back nights? Yeah, that’s some gutsy stuff. Especially considering how nasty this game got, including the Steve Ott hit on Cedric Paquette and Brayden Coburn shaking off an injury scare of his own.

Now they just need to cross their fingers to avoid the gut-punch that would come from a bad update regarding Stamkos.

Leafs cool Predators on strength of JVR’s hat trick

Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators came into 2016-17 looking to jump a level or more in the NHL pecking order. Each team’s seen its share of stumbles.

On Tuesday, there was no mistaking who was having the better night, though. That designation goes to the Maple Leafs and James van Riemsdyk‘s line in particular during a 6-2 smashing of the Predators.

JVR generated the second hat trick of his NHL career – and the first he’s ever generated with the Maple Leafs – and also grabbed an assist in a masterful performance. Those four points also constitute a career-high for van Riemsdyk. (You can see his hat trick in the video above this post’s headline.)

Honestly, the most impressive moment may have come from his linemate, as Mitch Marner scored one of his three points (1G, 2A) via this tally:

The Predators came into Tuesday’s game having won three in a row by a combined score of 11-2. They had also generated at least one standings point (4-0-2) in every November game until running into a brick wall against the Maple Leafs.

Even with Pekka Rinne out with a lower-body injury, there must be a “one step forward, two steps back” feeling for the Predators.

Then again, the Maple Leafs have likely felt that way as well early in 2016-17, so perhaps the silver lining of this lopsided loss is that Nashville should keep at it just like Toronto is doing.

Ott’s huge hit prompted a fight; should it earn a suspension?


It’s no secret that the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning often get nasty … surprisingly so for two franchises that aren’t exactly the quickest to drop their gloves.

Tuesday presented the latest moments of violence in the increasingly bitter rivalry, and it’s probably not TOO surprising that Steve Ott was in the thick of things.

As you can see in the video above, Ott delivered a huge hit on fellow pest Cedric Paquette. Brian Boyle took exception to that check, challenging Ott to a boisterous fight.

The question both in-game and perhaps to the Department of Player Safety, is whether it’s a dirty hit or not. Specifically, does Ott leave his feet and is there direct contact to the head?

One thing that benefits both teams – the Red Wings for avoiding a suspension, the Lightning with Steven Stamkos and others getting bruised tonight – is that Paquette did return to the game.


That’s a lot to digest. Ultimately, the Lightning remain up 2-1 despite all the fireworks.

Once again, Michael Matheson with an unlikely assist


It’s possible that a substantial chunk of hockey fans are unaware of Michael Matheson, but the Florida Panthers defenseman might not be anonymous to fanatics much longer.

Earlier this season, Matheson made a hit and great feed for the kind of goal that would make video game players grumble about “how that never happens.”

He blew some minds again on Tuesday, sending a pass from behind the net (and between his legs) to Kyle Rau for a goal against the Montreal Canadiens:

Nicely done.

This game presents multiple examples of players showing bewildering skill in the blink of an eye, as you can also see from this impressive Max Pacioretty goal:

Hot take: Patches can still score.

Video: Steven Stamkos won’t return from lower-body injury


With an early 2-0 lead, it seemed like Tuesday started well for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings.

Steven Stamkos contributed to that edge with a goal, but that excitement’s turned to concern as the team’s captain might have suffered an injury.

As you can see in the video below, Stamkos left the ice under some duress. It looks like he was favoring his right leg:

Update: There’s no word on how severe the issue is, but the Lightning announced that he won’t return to the game and label Stamkos’ issue as a lower-body injury.