Jason Brough

AP

Torts: There was ‘zero emotion’ in Jackets’ loss to Canucks

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are now 7-9-1 since winning 16 games in a row. They had one of their worst losses of the season last night, falling 3-0 at home to a Vancouver team that entered on a four-game losing streak.

“There was zero emotion within the game, and for what reason I don’t know,” head coach John Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Nothing happens right if you don’t play with emotion. We’ve got to get that figured out.”

The Jackets were playing the first of a seven-game home stand. As such, they were hoping to get off to a fast, energetic start in their own rink.

“We need to reinvent ourselves and get the chip back on our shoulder,” Tortorella had said before the game. “It’s our home building. I think we have to get some consistency, how we start the game first of all, and make sure (Nationwide Arena) is a tough place to play.”

Tortorella did like the first three shifts his team played, “but then we — why? I don’t know — but we just…we didn’t play well.”

Credit to the Canucks, whose best player was goalie Ryan Miller. Vancouver also won the special-teams battle, scoring once on the power play — on a classic Sedins passing play, finished off by Loui Eriksson — then getting another pretty goal from Jayson Megna, who beat Sergei Bobrovksy just as a Columbus penalty was expiring.

Speaking of Bobrovsky, he was not the reason the Jackets lost. But it’s worth noting that his save percentage is a woeful .896 in 11 starts since the winning streak ended. He said at the All-Star Game that he was feeling “really good right now“; however, one wonders if fatigue has begun to set in.

Bobrovsky has started 43 games this season, the seventh-most in the NHL. Other busy goalies around the league have also been struggling, including Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Martin Jones, and Frederik Andersen.

The Jackets’ next game is Saturday against Detroit. And if last night was a wake-up call, expect a much better, more energetic performance versus the Red Wings.

If, on the other hand, Columbus comes out flat again, expect a very unhappy coach.

Therrien has high praise for Pacioretty after Habs bump slump

AP
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Montreal’s long scoring drought ended with a five-goal outburst Thursday night, and that was just enough for the Canadiens to end a four-game losing streak.

Alex Galchenyuk scored 2:13 into overtime to give the Canadiens a 5-4 victory against the Arizona Coyotes. Max Pacioretty had two goals and two assists, one on the winning play.

“You know what? Pac was a true leader tonight,” Montreal coach Michael Therrien said. “He was a true captain. He took charge. He played a hell of a game and deserves a lot of credit for that win.”

Christian Dvorak scored twice for Arizona, his second tying it at 4 with 4:52 to play in regulation when he hit a wobbling puck into goalie Carey Price, who kicked it into the net.

Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist for Montreal. Max Domi, in his third game back since missing two months with a broken bone in his hand, had a goal and an assist for Arizona.

The Canadiens were shut out in their two previous games, the most recent an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Colorado.

“It was a big one for us,” Galchenyuk said. “It was an up-and-down game but, like we talked here in the locker room, we needed to get that win no matter what. It wasn’t a perfect game but we got the win and that’s the most important thing.”

The Coyotes took a 3-2 lead with a three-goal blitz over a 2:21 span late in the second period, but coach Dave Tippett said his team really had no business making the game as close as it was.

“We didn’t have enough guys play well enough to win the game,” he said. “When you don’t deserve to win the game, you don’t win a game very often.”

Tippett said Domi “was good.”

“That’s the first game since he’s come back that he really looked like he had his skating legs,” Tippett said. “We needed a few more players with skating legs tonight.”

Mike Smith made 35 saves for Arizona. Price had 20 for the Canadiens, who outshot the Coyotes 40-24.

Pacioretty’s 27th goal of a season, 2:52 into the third period, tied it 3-all. Montreal regained the lead at 4-3 when Alexander Radulov scored with 10:04 remaining in regulation.

The first Arizona goal came on a power play, when Dvorak took a pass from Domi and scored on a left wrister into the upper right hand corner of the net with 6:14 to play in the second period.

The next two Arizona goals came 23 seconds apart.

With both teams down a player, Domi got a goal on a reversal of a call on the ice. Arizona’s Peter Holland lost control of the puck at the net on a breakaway and Domi tried to jam the rebound past Price. At first, the ruling was no goal. But after a video review, Domi was awarded the score.

And 23 seconds later, the Coyotes caught Price looking the wrong way for a short-handed goal. Alex Goligoski knocked the puck into the open net to put Arizona ahead 3-2.

“It’s tough going into the third period with a lead in this league,” Domi said, “so when you do you’ve got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the last 20 minutes, and we came up a little short.”

Montreal entered the game having not scored in 137 minutes, 11 seconds, but the drought ended in a hurry when Pacioretty took a pass from Phillip Danault in front and sent the puck past Smith 57 seconds in.

The Canadiens made it 2-0 with 6:50 left in the first on Markov’s slap shot from the point. The puck glanced off Goligoski’s stick, hit the post and bounced into the net. It was Markov’s first goal since Nov. 18.

Pre-game reading: Which coach is on the hottest seat now?

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— Up top, Bob McKenzie discusses whether Lindy Ruff is on the hot seat in Dallas. Ruff’s contract is up at the end of the season, and the Stars, after winning the Central Division last season, are most likely going to miss the playoffs.

— In a related story, Ruff is the favorite in the next-coach-to-be-fired category at online bookmaker Bovada. Other candidates include Paul Maurice in Winnipeg, Jon Cooper in Tampa Bay, and Michel Therrien in Montreal. (MLive)

coaches

— Therrien is certainly an interesting name on that list. Nobody was expecting him to be fired a month ago when the Canadiens were 25-9-6. But the Habs have been slumping lately, and now comes word that GM Marc Bergevin met with Max Pacioretty, Carey Price and Shea Weber on Wednesday, without Therrien present. Bergevin then reportedly met with Therrien, without the players present. What to make of that? Maybe nothing. But the Habs could sure use a win tonight in Arizona. (Yahoo Sports)

— Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is trying to ignore the trade rumors. “My whole mentality is that when it happens, it happens. I can’t control when or where it’s going to be. I have to focus on my everyday responsibilities here. Looking at Twitter, that’s not going to help me by any means. It’s not going to be good for me.” Shattenkirk is a pending unrestricted free agent. It’s possible he could get traded prior to the March 1 deadline, especially if the Blues can’t continue their winning ways under coach Mike Yeo. (ESPN)

— An update on the arena situation in Seattle, with a statement from the mayor, Ed Murray. “Over the last four years, the SoDo arena group and the City have worked to determine whether SoDo would be the best place to build a new NBA and NHL arena. Given the continued uncertainty of when the SoDo group can secure a team and with multiple partners with strong ties to the NBA and NHL interested in the renovation of KeyArena without requiring a team, the City will continue the RFP process to evaluate KeyArena as an option to bring the Sonics back to Seattle. City Council will determine the path forward on the proposed street vacation in SoDo, while we continue to look at all the options, including the SoDo arena, and consider what is best for the public and what will bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.” (Seattle Times)

— An interview with Vegas GM George McPhee, who talks about trying to predict which players will be available in the expansion draft. “It’s not hard to identify the top players on each team and know who’s going to be protected. There are typically three or four guys on the bubble that are people we have to focus on and that all the GMs around the league will have to make difficult decisions on. Every club is going to lose a player. I think they’ve all accepted that.” (Yahoo Sports)

Enjoy the games!

Coyotes still ‘pretty confident’ of finding an arena solution

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Anthony LeBlanc admitted today that it was a “blindside” when the Arizona Coyotes’ plans to build a new arena in Tempe fell through late last week.

But LeBlanc, the Coyotes’ ever-optimistic president and CEO, also reiterated his confidence that the team would be in Arizona for years to come. It’s just a matter now of finding another site and another partner, and then striking the right deal so that the team can move out of its current arena in Glendale.

“We feel pretty confident — and this is where I am going to sound like a politician, and I am absolutely becoming one through osmosis through this process — but we really do believe that we will come up with a solution in the relative short term. When I say ‘relative short term,’ that could be six months, that could be a year,” LeBlanc told Arizona Sports radio.

The Coyotes still have no intention of calling Gila River Arena home for any longer than they have to.

“We’re okay staying in Glendale if we know that there’s certainty of a new facility coming online and shovels in the ground,” said LeBlanc.

Hence, the challenge. Because, so far, shovels haven’t come close to shoveling anywhere, which is why there continues to be speculation that the Coyotes will eventually just give up and move to Seattle or Portland.

As for that Glendale Star report that the Coyotes so vehemently shot down this morning — the one that said representatives of the team had recently toured arenas in the Pacific Northwest — LeBlanc attempted some topical humor to dismiss it.

“Well, I have big news for you guys, because I found out who the source is,” he said. “It’s Kellyanne Conway.”

Related: The Coyotes are ‘leaving Glendale as soon as practicable’

Markov will bring sons to Montreal after death of their mother

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Andrei Markov will bring his twin sons to Montreal following the death of their mother in Russia.

According to The Journal de Montréal, Markov will use the Canadiens’ bye week next week to fly to Moscow to collect his sons. The boys, Andrei and Mark, are just five years old. Their mother, Natalia Streckova, passed away just before Christmas from ovarian cancer. They’ve been living with their maternal grandmother in the days since.

Markov, 38, will raise his sons with his current partner, Sonya Sonechka.

“We know that she cannot replace Natalia,” said Markov, per the Montreal Gazette. “We only have one mother. But we hope that with them and our 10-month-old daughter, we will be able to form a great happy family.”

The Canadiens play Sunday in Boston and then don’t play again until Saturday.