Mike Halford

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Roy: Avs too focused on Iginla’s 600th goal in ugly loss to Flames

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The Colorado Avalanche had a tough go on Saturday.

They lost at home, 4-0, to the Calgary Flames. They had one shot on goal in the third period.

And head coach Patrick Roy thinks he knows what the culprit might’ve been.

“I guess we focused more in seeing Iggy score that 600th than playing our game,” Roy told the Denver Post, alluding to Jarome Iginla being stuck on career goal No. 599. “We had a few good chances and we tried to pass the puck to him instead of bringing it to the net.

“For example, [Alex] Tanguay is all alone in front of the net and he’s trying a [little] pass to Iggy.”

It’s certainly an interesting approach from Roy.

One could suggest he’s trying to mask his team’s struggles at the Pepsi Center this season — the Avs are 6-9-3 at home — and, to be fair, Iginla did say much of the same following the Calgary loss, explaining that he doesn’t “want the attention” on him as he chases the milestone, adding the Avs have talked about the situation.

There’s also the not-so-small fact Colorado was playing the Flames, the team where Iginla spent 16 years and emerged as one of the league’s best goalscorers.

The Avs have played three games with Iginla at 599 goals, and had decidedly different results in the previous two — a 6-3 win in San Jose on the Dec. 28, and a 4-3 OT loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks on New Year’s Eve.

So maybe Roy saw a trend in the wrong direction, and wanted to take care of it immediately.

“We’re going to have to refocus,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t want to see Iggy scoring his 600th, but we need to play our games here. Our focus was not as good.

“Is it because of it? I don’t know.”

McElhinney joins Bobrovsky on IR, Columbus now carrying two AHL goalies

Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets
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When it rains, it pours.

On Monday, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that veteran backup goalie Curtis McElhinney has been placed on IR with an ankle injury — just one day after putting their starting netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky, on IR as well.

This turn of events has forced Columbus to recall both of its AHL Lake Erie ‘tenders, Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo, who was brought up this morning.

Forsberg, called in on an emergency basis over the weekend, won his first-ever NHL contest in historic fashion on Saturday, relieving an injured McElhinney in overtime of the Jackets’ game versus Washington.

By stopping all six shots in the extra session and besting the Caps in the shootout, Forsberg became the first goalie ever to earn his first NHL win by entering the game after regulation time.

As for what lies ahead…

Forsberg has been the more used goalie in Lake Erie this season, though not by much — he’s played 21 games to Korpisalo’s 13, and a lot of that has to do with Korpisalo being up with the parent club.

It’s assumed Korpisalo will be the “No. 1” for the next while, though that designation seems tenuous at best.

Columbus, still sitting last in the NHL despite a modest two-game winning streak, will take on the Wild at home on Tuesday before playing three of their next four on the road, in Carolina, Brooklyn and Toronto.

Journeyman d-man Aulie signs in Finnish League

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers
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Keith Aulie, a veteran of nearly 200 NHL contests, has signed with HIFK of Finland’s SM-liiga, the club has announced.

Aulie, 26, was originally a Calgary draftee in 2007, only to be flipped to Toronto as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster three years later.

Aulie went on to play 79 games for the Leafs before getting traded to Tampa Bay in 2012.

Following a three-year stint with the Bolts, he proceeded to spend time with both the Oilers and Coyotes organizations — he spent this fall in Arizona on a PTO — before ultimately landing with AHL Springfield.

 

 

For Condon, Winter Classic ‘couldn’t have been scripted any better’

FOXBOROUGH — Heading into the Winter Classic, Mike Condon — Massachusetts native, Patriots fan and, oh yeah, starting goalie for the Montreal Canadiens — tried to downplay the significance of the event.

“At the end of the day, it’s another game,” he said. “Another two points.”

But once he helped secure those two points, Condon was signing a pretty different tune.

“Probably the most special [game],” he said, after stopping 27 of 28 shots for second star honors in Montreal’s 5-1 win over Boston. “I had a lot of friends and family here tonight. Bruins, Habs, Gillette Stadium, Winter Classic, New Year’s Day — probably couldn’t have been scripted any better.”

Condon was a major factor in writing that script, which ended with a pretty significant win.

From a personal perspective, his ties to this event ran deep. Condon grew up in Holliston, Mass. — a 20-minute drive from Gillette Stadium. He’s a huge Patriots fan, with a special mask that pays homage to Bill Belichick. His dad, a sergeant in the Massachussets State Police, led the Canadiens’ escort to the stadium yesterday.

From a professional perspective, Condon needed this type of performance.

The pressure’s been on for weeks now. With the feel-good, what-a-story stuff from the beginning of the year worn off, the 25-year-old undrafted free agent was subjected to what struggling goalies in Montreal get subjected to: criticism, questions and, last week, added competition, as GM Marc Bergevin swung a trade to bring in Ben Scrivens.

If Condon keeps playing like he did against the Bruins, Scrivens will be hard pressed to get a game.

Yes, Boston put just three shots on goal in the first period and yes, they were without two of their best offensive players in David Krejci and Brad Marchand. But that doesn’t take away from the fact Condon finished with a sterling .964 save percentage, or the fact he made some key saves at big moments — like this one on Ryan Spooner right at the end of the second period:

Pretty good stuff from a guy that went 2-8-0 with an .888 save percentage in December.

It was easy to see how much a good start to January meant.

“New year, big win, hopefully January’s a lot nicer to us,” Condon said. “Big win, two points. Can’t argue with that.”

Gallagher shines as Habs thump Bruins at ’16 Winter Classic

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FOXBOROUGH — During the lead-up to the Winter Classic, P.K. Subban said the game would be a “perfect fit” for Brendan Gallagher‘s return to the Canadiens lineup.

Turns out he was right.

Gallagher, who’d missed the previous 17 games with a broken hand, was a driving force in his first game back in action, scoring a goal while setting up another to give the Habs a 5-1 win over the Bruins at Gillette Stadium.

Paul Byron netted twice for Montreal, who got January off to a good start following a 3-11-0 month of December. Single markers went to Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais — who, at 74 seconds, scored one of the fastest opening goals in Wither Classic history.

And then there was Gallagher, the game’s first star.

Yesterday, Subban told reporters that, because outdoor games often don’t have the best ice and tend to be chippy, Friday’s contest would be “right up [Gallagher’s] alley.”

The diminutive forward, out since Nov. 22, made good on his teammate’s prediction.

Gallagher quickly re-established chemistry on Montreal’s top line with Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec — combined, the trio finished with six points, seven shots on goal and a plus-five rating.

In terms of contrasting narratives, Montreal getting Gallagher back was a foil to Boston’s story on Friday — without top scorer David Krejci (upper-body injury) and leading goalscorer Brad Marchand (suspended), the B’s really struggled to generate offense.

Out-shot 14-3 in the first period, Boston didn’t beat Mike Condon until 3:56 of the third period, when Matt Beleskey tipped home an Adam McQuaid point shot.

The top duo of Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson failed to make much happen despite a rotation of different forwards on their line, and Boston’s usually dangerous power play failed to convert on any of its chances.

In goal, both Condon (27 saves on 28 shots) and Tuukka Rask played well, and though Rask’s numbers (25 saves on 30 shots, .833 save percentage) don’t necessarily show it, the Finnish netminder was the main reason Boston only went into the first intermission down 1-0.

Looking ahead, Montreal will be buoyed by the win and the offensive breakout. The club had scored just one goal in four of its previous five games, and has to be thrilled the top line is back together and clicking.

For Boston, this disappointing result is hardly the way it wanted to start the year. What’s more, the B’s have a tough schedule ahead — a home date against Eastern Conference-leading Washington, followed by a lengthy five-game road trip.

Notes: The attendance was 67,426… The two teams combined for 58 minutes in what was a chippy affair…Habs forward Dale Weise took this Kevan Miller cross-check early in the second period, and didn’t return: