Mike Halford

Video: Virtanen scores first NHL goal, also on terrific solo effort

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Guess the Canucks didn’t want to be shown up in their own rink.

Specifically, Jake Virtanen.

After Claude Giroux scored on a pretty solo effort early in the second period of tonight’s game, the Canucks rookie replied with a great individual effort of his own for the first goal of his NHL career.

Virtanen, 19, was Vancouver’s first-round pick (sixth overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Over the weekend, he and fellow rookie Jared McCann, the 24th overall pick in ’14, were informed they’d be spending the year with the Canucks, rather than be returned to their respective junior clubs.

In his first game since learning he’d be sticking around, Virtanen scored a beauty goal.

Not a bad week — and it’s only Monday.

Video: Giroux scores on terrific solo effort

It hasn’t exactly been the offensive explosion the Flyers were hoping for, but they did get a pretty nice goal on Monday night in Vancouver.

Captain Claude Giroux scored a highlight-reel marker early in the second period, fighting off Canucks d-man Matt Bartkowski to score just his fourth goal of the year.

The goal was Philly’s third in its last three games, and first by a forward. Mark Streit scored in a 3-1 loss to Buffalo, and Luke Schenn scored in a 4-1 defeat to New Jersey.

Giroux’s tally briefly evened tonight’s game at 1-1, only for Vancouver to go ahead shortly thereafter. Sophomore Bo Horvat scored his second of the year at the 10:10 mark for the 2-1 lead. Horvat had previously assisted on Jannik Hansen‘s opener.

‘Hawks catch fire in third, snap Kings’ seven-game winning streak

Jonathan Toews, Ryan Garbutt, Erik Gustafsson, Jonathan Quick
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Looks like Chicago’s offense is finding it’s groove.

Buoyed by some new-look lines and a stellar outing from Corey Crawford, the ‘Hawks dispatched of Los Angeles 4-2 on Monday at the United Center, snapping a two-game losing streak while halting the Kings’ win streak at seven.

Prior to tonight’s game, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville fired up the ol’ line blender and moved Artemi Panarin to the top unit alongside Jonathan Toews and Ryan Garbutt. That gave Teuvo Teravainen the chance to take Panarin’s spot on the Patrick KaneArtem Anisimov line.

The moves paid off.

Toews, Anisimov and Kane all finished with two points, while Teravainen scored the game-winner midway through the third. Panarin and Garbutt both added assists.

Then there was Crawford.

The veteran netminder continued his solid start to the season with a 33-save effort, 19 of those coming in a hectic third period in which the Kings out-shot the Blackhawks by seven, but couldn’t beat “Crow.”

Speaking of those Kings, they’ll likely be disappointed by tonight’s result, regardless of all their success of late. They had a fairly wide advantage in shots — 35 to Chicago’s 26 — and held a one-goal lead going into the final period, before Chicago exploded for three goals.

Alec Martinez and Anze Kopitar scored for L.A., while Jake Muzzin finished with a pair of assists. Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots in the loss.

Reim time: Leafs stun Western Conference-leading Stars

Valeri Nichushkin; James Reimer
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This hasn’t been a banner year for James Reimer.

Until Monday night, that is.

Reimer, who came into tonight’s action with a .876 save percentage and 3.24 GAA, stopped 43 of 44 shots to give the Leafs a 4-1 win over the red-hot Dallas Stars.

It was a terrific effort, and the kind of goaltending that’s eluded Toronto of late. The Leafs came into tonight’s action have surrendered 16 goals in their last four games, and this marked the club’s first 40-plus-save effort of the year.

But tonight wasn’t just about Reimer.

The Leafs scored four goals for just the third time this season, and the first time in six games. Joffrey Lupul led the way with a pair of goals — including the game-winner just 21 seconds into the middle frame — while Morgan Reilly and Brad Boyes both finished with multi-point efforts.

Dallas responded with a goal from Jamie Benn, his NHL-best 10th of the year. Having come into tonight with wins in eight of their last nine — and firing 44 shots at a very in-form goalie — the Stars will lament the loss, but won’t be too broken up about it.

Toronto, meanwhile, will be elated with the result

Tonight’s win was just the Leafs’ second of the season and, ergo, just the second of the Mike Babcock era. It was a much-needed victory; prior to, Babcock gave a pretty sobering analysis of where his team was at.

“We’re at the 10-game mark. We’ve won one game,” he said, per the Star. “We’ve been in lots of games. There’s been three games I felt that they are un-Leaf-like. Maybe they are Leaf-like, but that’s not what we’re going to get used to.

“We’ve got to be way better.”

For one night, anyway, the Maple Leafs were.

Tarasenko to return Tuesday versus Kings

150708-Vladimir-Tarasenko

Turns out Vladimir Tarasenko‘s absence will be brief.

The Blues sniper, who sat out Saturday’s game against Minnesota with a lower-body injury, will be back in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against the Kings (8:30 p.m., NBCSN).

Tarasenko was hurt in a win over the Ducks last week, but managed to finish that game before sitting out the Wild tilt. The Blues didn’t seem overly concerned with Tarasenko’s health; on Saturday, head coach Ken Hitchcock joked that the lower-body ailment would keep the Russian out for “the month of October.”

Saturday, of course, was Oct. 31.

Tarasenko is off to a terrific start this season, leading the 8-2-1 Blues with six goals and 10 points. His production is a big reason the club’s been able to withstand the losses of injured forwards Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz.