PHT Morning Skate: The Curse of Columbus, plus Niskanen vs. Laughton

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Do you think the Columbus Blue Jackets might be literally cursed considering all of those injuries? This is the column for you. (Columbus Dispatch)

Is it finally time for the Arizona Coyotes to trade Keith Yandle? (SBNation)

The 10 worst signings of this season. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen has some bite to his game, as evidenced in this fight with Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton:

Nifty moment here as St. Louis Blues captain David Backes literally passes Jaden Schwartz’s stick to him in the heat of game action:

Video: Flyers lose Mason again to lower-body injury

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The Philadelphia Flyers were starting to look like a team that might claw their way back into the playoff picture after going 5-1-1 in their last seven games. However, their comeback potential came into serious question this afternoon the moment goaltender Steve Mason limped towards the tunnel.

He appeared to suffer the ailment while stretching during a pause in play, as you can see below:

Philadelphia has called it a lower-body injury and confirmed that Mason won’t return before the end of the contest. Mason has already spent two stints on the sidelines this season due to back and knee problems.

In the past Rob Zepp has been called up to help fill the void, but that might not be an option this time as the 33-year-old goaltender was hurt on Saturday, per the Philadelphia Daily News. The Flyers might instead turn to Anthony Stolarz, although the 20-year-old has no NHL experience and only has 21 AHL contests under his belt.

Ray Emery, who has a 3.38 GAA and .887 save percentage in 20 games in 2014-15, entered Sunday’s game against Washington in relief of Mason. He surrendered a goal to Alex Ovechkin shortly after entering the contest.

Video: Backstrom’s shootout winner lifts the Caps over the Ducks

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Nicklas Backstrom scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 Friday night.

With the win, the Capitals improve to 6-1-1 in their last eight against the Ducks.

Jason Chimera got the Caps on the board tying the game 1-1 at 4:15 of the second period thanks to a highlight-reel assist from Troy Brouwer.

John Carlson had the other goal for Washington. Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists.

Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, who played without captain Ryan Getzlaf (lower body) for a second straight game.

Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves in his regular season debut.

Ilya Bryzgalov saw his record drop to 1-3-1 with a 32 save performance.

Video: Brouwer’s amazing play leads to Chimera’s goal

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Troy Brouwer was down and out, but it didn’t stop him from executing a perfect stick check on the Ducks’ Ben Lovejoy.

The puck found its way to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who set up Jason Chimera for his fifth of the season early in the second period.

Have a look:

Price protection? Therrien says running over goalies ‘has to stop’

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The Montreal Canadiens know how important Carey Price is — and how difficult life can be without him — which is why head coach Michel Therrien wants the NHL to crack down on skaters running over goalies.

“It has to stop,” Therrien said, per the Globe and Mail. “It’s not normal that players let themselves fall into the goalie like that. Those players never fall into the boards that way, but they’re able to fall into a goalie and risk causing an injury.”

Montreal knows the risks associated with running into netminders. Last spring, Rangers forward Chris Kreider knocked Price out of the Eastern Conference Final after colliding with him during the opening game of the series:

Kreider wasn’t penalized on the play and received no supplemental discipline from the NHL. The Canadiens, meanwhile, felt the play was borderline malicious and possibly intentional.

“I don’t think he’s a real dirty player,” Brandon Prust said of Kreider. “But in this situation he went skates first right into his leg. We call that accidentally on purpose.”

“Looking at the incident, it’s a reckless play,” Therrien added. ‘That’s the truth.”

This season, with Price playing at an MVP-level, the Habs seem even more concerned about him getting bowled over. There were collisions recently in games with Buffalo (Patrick Kaleta) and Washington (Troy Brouwer) that drew the club’s ire, though Therrien insists this isn’t just about protecting Price — it’s about goalies across the league.

“Even if you have a defenseman who is six foot six, 250 pounds, if you lose position and the player on the offensive side lets himself go into the goalie, there’s nothing you can do,” he said. “I’m not only talking about Carey Price, I’m talking about goalies in the NHL.

“We have to find a way to protect them.”