Jason Brough

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‘Hawks were winners too, on ‘a good day for the city of Chicago’

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CHICAGO (AP) Patrick Kane was terrific, and Corey Crawford had another solid performance for the Blackhawks.

Oh, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the World Series.

“Sure is a good day for the city of Chicago,” Blackhawks forward Tyler Motte said.

Indeed.

Kane had a goal and two assists, and the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 5-1 on Tuesday night for their third straight win. Then there was another loud cheer in the nearly empty United Center as fans in the private boxes and bars celebrated the final out of the Cubs’ 9-3 victory in Cleveland.

The Blackhawks know a little something about success, winning the Stanley Cup three times since 2010, and they seem to be enjoying the Cubs’ run. Moments after the Blackhawks’ victory, coach Joel Quenneville was already looking forward to Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

“It’s going to be a fun day for Chicago tomorrow,” he said. “Biggest game maybe in the whole history of Chicago sports.”

Kane scored his third of the season on a dazzling play in the first, and then set up Artem Anisimov‘s tiebreaking power-play goal at 7:44 of the third. Anisimov extended his career-best point streak to eight games with his team-best seventh goal of the season.

With Sam Bennett in the penalty box for tripping, Kane made a perfect pass to Anisimov in front for the redirect. Motte added his third of the season on an impressive rush, making it 3-1 at 12:44, and Kane assisted on Artemi Panarin‘s sliding empty-netter with 3:01 left.

“For us, it’s probably as ugly a 5-1 win is gonna get for our team,” Kane said. “Still can be better.”

Crawford finished with 33 saves after posting his first shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

“I’m feeling better and better every game, feeling quicker out there,” Crawford said.

Michael Frolik scored a short-handed goal for Calgary, which beat Chicago 3-2 on Kris Versteeg‘s goal in the seventh round of a shootout on Oct. 24. Brian Elliott finished with 17 stops in the opener of a four-game road trip.

“I think those first two were two of the best periods we played this year,” Frolik said. “It’s just that second goal kind of, they get the momentum and we opened the game and they finished us.”

The crowd of 21,166 seemed to go back and forth from the action in Cleveland to the Blackhawks’ fourth win in five games. About 20 minutes before the puck dropped, there was a roar in the concourse when Kris Bryant homered to give the Cubs an early lead.

There were more cheers and high-fives with about 4:15 left in the first, celebrating Addison Russell’s grand slam.

Then Kane gave the crowd something to cheer about on the ice. The reigning NHL MVP skated around Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie, and then away from Deryk Engelland and Mikael Backlund before beating Elliott low on the glove side for a 1-0 lead at 18:58.

“It was a big turn of events after one, and we got better as the game progressed,” Quenneville said.

Chicago had a chance to add to its advantage when Calgary was whistled for too many men on the ice in the second, but Backlund made a great pass to Frolik for a tying tap-in goal at 7:06.

It was still tied before the Blackhawks scored four times in the third, helped by another solid performance by Anisimov. The Russian center, off to a fast start, also got an assist on Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s second of the season at 18:16.

“We were playing a great game. We really were,” Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano said. “We had control. We did a lot of good things, then it seemed like the last 10 minutes it all fell apart.”

The new-look Rangers are dangerous on every line

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Nine games down and it’s hard to imagine a better start for the New York Rangers. Not only are the Blueshirts 6-3-0 and boasting the NHL’s top offense, it seems like every new player that GM Jeff Gorton brought in has been a contributor.

At the top of the list is Mika Zibanejad, the 23-year-old the Rangers got from Ottawa for Derrick Brassard.

Zibanejad, a center, has two goals and six assists so far with his new team. Tonight against the Blues, he’ll be on a line with injury returnee Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello. Kreider had three goals and four assists before he was sidelined after five games. All five of his even-strength points came with Zibanejad on the ice with him.

“I didn’t know a lot about Mika Zibanejad,” winger Rick Nash told Sportsnet, “but he’s got everything to be a first-line center.”

Nash himself is feeling pretty good these days, with four goals already. He’ll skate tonight with rookie Jimmy Vesey, who has five goals, and veteran center Derek Stepan, who has five assists. No wonder Nash is glad he wasn’t traded over the summer..

So that’s the top two lines, now let’s talk about the third, which was fantastic in Sunday’s 6-1 destruction of the Lightning. Michael Grabner had a hat trick, Kevin Hayes had three assists, and J.T. Miller ended up with a goal and two assists. You have to figure head coach Alain Vigneault will want to try that trio some more.

Even the fourth line has a danger factor. Brandon Pirri has four goals this season, two of them at even strength. And don’t forget young Pavel Buchnevich, who’s missed time with back spasms. Pirri and Buchnevich are expected to play tonight with Jesper Fast. Not your typical, grinding fourth line, that’s for sure.

“Right now, I look at our four lines and I see balance,” said Vigneault. “I see a good skill level. I see on every line guys who can make plays and use their speed. And to use their speed, the D have got to get the puck up, and our defensemen have done a good job of that so far.”

As for the defense, it remains the biggest concern, if only because the forwards have been so good and Henrik Lundqvist is in goal.

But at least they have Ryan McDonagh back there.

“He’s without a doubt our best skating defenseman,” said Vigneault. “He can skate away from the forecheck, he can support the attack, jump up and beat a lot of their forwards down the ice and make a 2-on-2 a 3-on-2 or a 3-on-3 a 4-on-3 … He’s played extremely well and we need him to play well, he’s our best defenseman.”

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Related: Alain Vigneault got an interesting call from Patrick Roy this past summer

The Oilers are now at 10/1 to win the Stanley Cup

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The Edmonton Oilers are Stanley Cup contenders!

That’s not coming from us, mind you, but a bunch of bettors clearly feel that way. Since the start of the NHL regular season, online bookmaker Bovada has dropped its Stanley Cup odds on the Oilers from 33/1 all the way to 10/1.

At 10/1, it puts the Oilers (7-2-0) just a tick below the favored Pittsburgh Penguins (9/1). It also means that Connor McDavid and company have the same Stanley Cup odds as the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Montreal Canadiens, the latter of whom were at 25/1 prior to going 8-0-1 in their first nine games.

The excitement surrounding the Oilers is understandable, and it’s likely some (or many) of their long-suffering fans have been betting more with their hearts than their heads. After all, Cam Talbot‘s save percentage is unlikely to remain .936 all season long, and Edmonton’s defense, though improved by the addition of Adam Larsson, remains a work in progress. The team is improving, though, there’s no question about that. And with a player like McDavid, anything can seem possible.

Following is the full list of odds. Numbers in blue means the odds have grown shorter since the start of the season; in red, they’re longer.

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Related: The odds say Torts will be fired first

Bergeron has a ‘new’ injury, questionable for tonight’s game in Florida

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The good news is, Patrice Beregeon has not re-aggravated the lower-body injury that forced him to miss Boston’s first three games of the season.

The bad news is, he’s got a “new” injury.

From CSN New England:

Patrice Bergeron was missing from Tuesday’s morning skate at the BB&T Center because of an injury sustained after Monday’s practice, and is questionable for Tuesday night’s divisional matchup against the Florida Panthers. 

“Not necessarily,” Claude Julien responded when asked if Bergeron is definitely out for the Panthers game. “He’s got some maintenance going on today, and we’ll have to probably make that decision tonight. It’s not an old issue. It’s a new one. 

“It happened after practice, not during practice. It’s not a practice injury.”

So if Bergeron remains questionable for tonight’s game, at the very least, it doesn’t seem like it’s a serious injury. But it does still beg the question of what it is, exactly, and also how he sustained it.

With Bergeron’s status in doubt, the B’s have called up rookie forward Sean Kuraly from AHL Providence on an emergency basis.

Here are the lines from this morning’s skate, per the Bruins:

Marchand-Krejci-Heinen
Beleskey-Spooner-Czarnik
Kuraly-Nash-Hayes
Schaller-Moore-Acciari

The injury-riddled Kings just want to ‘stay in the race’

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The Los Angeles Kings are in survival mode, and if you don’t believe it, ask their head coach.

“I think our mission statement clearly as a group is just stay in the race,” said Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “I think we have a really good handle on where we’re at because of our injuries and because of the way the division is. We have a really good handle on it and we’re not going to lose sight of that. We’re not going to get high-low. We’re going to keep our realistic expectations for our group. You can use injuries as an excuse because of the quality of players that we’ve lost, but we won’t use it.”

The latest Kings to fall were Brayden McNabb and Andy Andreoff. They joined Jonathan Quick, Jeff Zatkoff, Marian Gaborik, and Teddy Purcell on the injured list. With the two goalies sidelined, the Kings have been forced to go with Peter Budaj, who hasn’t been an NHL regular since the 2013-14 season.

Budaj, to his credit, has played well, going 4-2-0 with a .916 save percentage. There wasn’t much he could do the last two games, as the Kings got shut out by both the Blues, 1-0, and Blackhawks, 3-0, over the weekend.

Indeed, scoring has been the real challenge for the Kings of late. They remain possession monsters, with the highest Corsi of all 30 teams. But missing a sniper like Gaborik definitely hurts. At five-on-five, their shooting percentage is just 5.8, fifth-lowest in the league. For comparison’s sake, Minnesota leads at 13.5 percent.

Bad luck may be partly to blame for their shooting woes, but regardless of why the pucks aren’t going in, with a 4-5-0 record after nine games, they could really use a few wins, starting tonight at home against Pacific Division rival Anaheim.

“I just think the division’s better, and that’s easy to rationalize that,” said Sutter. “Calgary improved their goaltending situation by 50 percent, and Edmonton, if [Connor McDavid] wouldn’t have gotten hurt last year, they’d have been a much better team, and with the additions they’ve made, hey, it’s legit.”

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