AP

Therrien has high praise for Pacioretty after Habs bump slump

2 Comments

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.

The Buzzer: Stars Wars Storm Surge; Bob beats Blue Jackets

Getty Images
1 Comment

Three Stars

1. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes

Heading into Saturday, Aho only scored in one goal (a goal and an assist) in his past five contests. He made up for that dry spell in a big way against the Wild, generating a hat trick plus two assists.

His third goal was an empty-netter, but Aho’s first tally ended up being the game-winner. Aho was really clicking with Teuvo Teravainen, who finished the night with three assists.

Aho now has 27 points through his first 30 games in 2019-20.

2. Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning made life miserable for the Sharks on Saturday, feasting by way of a 7-1 score.

Killorn was a big part of that, generating a goal and three assists for four points. Killorn now has three goals and three assists for six points during a three-game streak, giving Killorn 22 points in 25 games in 2019-20.

As effective as Killorn has been over the years, his career-high is 47 points. Chances are, he’s going to slow down (example a 15.7 shooting percentage so far this season, against a 10.5 career average), but if reasonably healthy, Killorn should blow that previous number out of the water.

There were other Lightning players who played really well, as you’d expect from a blowout. Steven Stamkos ranked among those who collected three points, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves to exaggerate the distance between the two teams.

3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Really, you can take your pick between Malkin and Jake Guentzel, as they both enjoyed one-goal, two-assist nights on Saturday, and they both clearly play off each other quite well. As much as Guentzel has been conjoined to Sidney Crosby during his young (and underappreciated) career, it seems like he can click with Malkin, too. Obviously, it’s not difficult to transition from one “NHL 100” player to another who should have made the “NHL 100,” yet … we’ve seen wingers who cannot find chemistry with one or more of Malkin and Crosby. So credit to Guentzel for being deadly with both, and likely making life a little easier for each of them.

Malkin now has a fantastic 26 points in just 19 games, and may very well have his biggest year in a while if he can stay healthy — an uncomfortably familiar phrase for the Penguins for quite some time. (Heck, even spanning back to Mario Lemieux.)

Guentzel now has 31 points in 30 games, and a solid chance to exceed last season’s excellent career-high of 76 points.

Highlight of the Night

Uh, you think the Kings were expecting Johnny Gaudreau to pass when he did? (Don’t lie.) This is just a tremendous combination of speed, skill, and vision as he set up Sean Monahan:

Star Wars Storm Surge

Yay or nay on the Star Wars-themed Storm Surge from the Hurricanes? I’d say solid enough, although it lacked a Bunch of Baby Yoda so … maybe not ideal.

Factoids

  • The Blue Jackets spoiled Sergei Bobrovsky‘s shutout bid a bit more than halfway through the third period. Still, Bob had a strong night with 33 saves. Hot take: Columbus is still probably relieved to not be spending to the tune of Bob’s $10M AAV, considering how infrequently Bob has looked this good.
  • NHL PR notes that the Avalanche extended a point streak to 14 games, while they also gave the Bruins their first regulation loss at home this season.
  • Brady Tkachuk received a fine from the Department of Player Safety for cross-checking Scott Laughton. More on that wild game here.
  • A bit esoteric, but interesting, from NHL PR: Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid are the fifth pair to generate at least 300 points each in 320 games or fewer. They’re the first pairing to pull that off since Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

Scores

PHI 4 – OTT 3
VAN 6 – BUF 5 (OT)
COL 4 – BOS 1
PIT 5 – DET 3
TBL 7 – SJS 1
FLA 4 – CBJ 1
CAR 6 – MIN 2
TOR 5 – STL 2
NSH 6 – NJD 4
DAL 3 – NYI 1
CGY 4 – LAK 3

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

P.K. Subban gets a warm tribute during his return to Nashville

Getty Images
2 Comments

It would have been silly for Nashville Predators fans to boo P.K. Subban during his return to “Smashville.”

Subban didn’t choose to be traded from Montreal to Nashville, and he didn’t elect to be sent from Nashville to the New Jersey Devils, either.

Sports fans aren’t always so rational, though. Really, it makes sense: spending so much money, time, and emotional energy on a game isn’t exactly the most rational thing to do. So there was some concern about how Subban would be received, especially since he’s already booed in an honestly uncomfortably large number of NHL arenas already.

Subban and others can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as while not everyone greeted Subban with open arms in as literal a way as Roman Josi did with their hug on Saturday, the team gave Subban a fantastic welcome back tribute video:

Not only does that video include some of Subban’s great moments during his three seasons with the Predators (that Stanley Cup Final appearance, a Norris Trophy win), it also captures some of the off-the-ice qualities that make Subban so fun and entertaining (and make people sometimes get perplexingly, maybe troublingly mad about him). He got up and decided to sing some Johnny Cash upon arriving in Nashville, was a fantastic charitable presence, and was a lot of fun.

(No Listerine was spilled in the making of the ad, but you can’t have it all.)

Anyway, good on the Predators and their fans for welcoming P.K. back.

As a reminder, Montreal Canadiens fans greeted him with love upon his return, too:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Avs’ rising star Cale Makar shaken by hit from Bruins’ Marchand

9 Comments

The Colorado Avalanche have done a masterful job, for the most part, when it comes to rolling with injury-related punches to key players such as Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They have to hope that Saturday didn’t send another such haymaker their way.

Rising star defenseman Cale Makar (who just fell under a point per game on Saturday with 28 in 29 contests) was clearly shaken up by a hard hit by Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

It didn’t seem like a heinous hit by Marchand, although there are some who wonder if it was a bit high.

Either way, Makar’s reaction is troubling. You can see him shake his head multiple times following the hit, which gives the impression that he could have suffered a concussion. That doesn’t guarantee that Makar did, but it’s a situation to watch — and one the Avalanche should absolutely be careful about.

The Avalanche ended up beating the Bruins 4-1 on Saturday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Laila Anderson, bone marrow donor attend Blues game

1 Comment

If it got a “little dusty” at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday, that’s understandable, because the continued story of Laila Anderson meeting Kenton Felmlee, her bone marrow donor, is sure to make most get a case of heightened allergies.

(Is that a leak from the ceiling? /Sobs)

Anyway, Felmlee was Anderson’s guest during Saturday’s Toronto Maple Leafs – St. Louis Blues game, giving the two another chance to bond, and beyond that, for Anderson to thank Felmlee for helping her in her battle with the rare immune disease HLH.

It’s great stuff, even if the actual Blues game isn’t going so great for St. Louis.

This longer clip from their first meeting earlier this week is worth watching, unless you don’t want people to see you openly weeping’n’stuff:

(Personally, I’d say it’s worth it.)

MORE ON LAILA ANDERSON AND THE BLUES:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.