Riding the Zamboni – Wednesday, January 12th

Anaheim 7 – St. Louis 4

Bobby Ryan showed up in a big way for the streaking Ducks. Ryan got his second hat trick of the season and added an assist keying the Ducks to a blowout win over St. Louis. Jonas Hiller saw his shutout streak snapped at 178:34 in the second period when David Backes scored at 3:44. He added another goal just a couple minutes later to cut the Ducks lead to 3-2, but in the third Anaheim blew up big.

The Ducks would score four straight in the third with goals by Ryan, Corey Perry, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Brandon McMillan to pull ahead 7-2. The Blues would score a pair late, but the damage was done. Hiller stopped 30 shots on the night while Ty Conklin was only able to stop 17 in the loss. Things would get ugly in the third period as multiple fights broke out as the Blues vented their frustration at getting beaten so badly. Four different fights would break out in the final period as the teams brought back some flavor from the 80’s with a high-scoring game and a brouhaha in the third. Somewhere, Tony Twist is smiling.

Chicago 4 – Colorado 0

Corey Crawford is quickly becoming the story of the season for Chicago. The suddenly starting goalie earned his second straight shutout in helping the Blackhawks finally beat the Avalanche in their final meeting of the season. The Hawks got 24 saves out of Crawford and goals from four unlikely sources in Troy Brouwer, Dave Bolland, Fernando Pisani, and Jack Skille to pace the offense. Peter Budaj made 27 saves in the loss as the Avs, once again, couldn’t tighten up the defense to keep their opponent off the board. It was a rare night for Colorado in that they didn’t score a goal of their own as the Avs have one of the top offenses in the NHL.

Pittsburgh 5 – Montreal 2

A confidence-boosting win for Pittsburgh who, until tonight, hadn’t won without Sidney Crosby in the lineup. Getting a win over the team they just lost to last week and lost to in the playoffs makes it especially sweeter. Alex Goligoski had two goals and an assist, Jordan Staal had a goal and two assists, and Kris Letang had three helpers in leading the way for Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury got the last laugh on Carey Price stopping 20 shots in the win and striking a payback pose mocking Price who did so similarly after winning in the shootout over Pittsburgh last week. Price, for his efforts, stopped 31 shots in the loss.

Tampa Bay 3 – Washington 0

Dwayne Roloson stopped 23 shots in shutting out a mostly uninterested looking Caps team and taking sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division. Roloson’s shutout over the Caps, his second in nine days with the Lightning, will have the Caps looking at him as their supreme divisonal nemesis the rest of the way.

Dominic Moore, Sean Bergenheim, and Simon Gagne each had goals for Tampa Bay. For Gagne, it was his fourth of the season and a slump-buster as he hadn’t scored in his last 11 games. If Gagne can get his offensive game going, the Lightning are really going to start looking good. Semyon Varlamov stopped 35 shots in the loss for Washington, a solid effort but he’s got to get tired of seeing his high-powered offense not showing up consistently.

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    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.

    Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

    The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

    The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

    Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

    His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

    Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

    He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

    He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

    A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

    Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.