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The Buzzer: Bobrovsky and Blue Jackets are on fire

Three Stars

1. Anthony Mantha

What a game by the big Red Wings winger.

It was all about five in Detroit on Sunday. That’s how many games the Red Wings have now won in a row, and that’s how many points Mantha collected. Mantha generated the first hat trick of his NHL career, and added two assists for his first five-point game.

Mantha came into Sunday with 19 goals, so he also crossed the 20-goal barrier, finishing the night with 22 goals and 45 points on the season. He has a solid chance to meet or exceed last season’s career-highs of 24 goals and 48 points.

2. Darcy Kuemper

There were three impressive shutouts on Sunday, so we’ll just go in order of who got the most saves, so apologies to Rangers’ netminder Alexandar Georgiev, who finished the afternoon with 29 saves to blank the Flyers.

Kuemper generated a 39-save shutout in gaining an absolutely crucial win for the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, and he’s really been dragging Arizona through a lot of low-margin-of-error games lately. Really, Kuemper has been one of the best netminders in the NHL since the calendar turned 2019, and he’s giving Arizona a decent chance to beat some enormous odds.

Kuemper now has five shutouts in 2018-19, and has generated two in his last three games, only allowing two goals overall during that span.

3. Sergei Bobrovsky

It’s been a bumpy season for Bob, to say the least, but he’s coming up big in some absolutely clutch moments for the Blue Jackets.

Bobrovsky generated a 38-save shutout on Sunday, just one behind Kuemper. Like his Coyotes colleague, Bobrovsky has been red hot lately. Bobrovsky now has three shutouts in his last five games, and four in his last seven. He’s only allowed seven goals overall in his last seven games.

Bobrovsky’s won five games in a row, and also seven of his last eight. The Blue Jackets’ prospects have risen from possibly missing the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs after going all-in, to maybe avoiding the Lightning in the first round, and possibly going into the postseason with some swagger.

Things tend to change when “Vezina Bob” comes back into the picture, eh?

Highlights of the Night

From Anthony Mantha’s five points to that sweet Patrice Bergeron to Brad Marchand shorthanded goal, the Red Wings – Bruins game had some of Sunday’s best action, so enjoy the full highlights:

Factoids

  • More on this in a future post, but the Calgary Flames clinched both the Pacific Division and top seed in the West by beating the Sharks on Sunday. So, the Lightning get home-ice throughout the postseason, while the Flames get that edge through the West playoffs.
  • This means that the Sharks and Golden Knights will face each other in what could be a fierce Pacific second vs. third seed series in the first round.
  • That sweet Brad Marchand shorthanded goal was his 26th, setting a new Bruins record, so watch it in isolation if you’d prefer:

Scores

New York Rangers 3, Philadelphia Flyers 0
Arizona Coyotes 4, Minnesota Wild 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Carolina Hurricanes 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Buffalo Sabres 0
Detroit Red Wings 6, Boston Bruins 3
Calgary Flames 5, San Jose Sharks 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

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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

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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

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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.

Canucks’ Miller scored an awesome water bottle breaker in OT

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Over time, you can become jaded as a sports (and specifically hockey) fan.

Stories about abusive coaches, lockouts, fans booing players for simply no longer being on their teams — it can sap some of the joy of the game.

Thankfully, we have highlights, and I can’t think of many simpler joys than someone scoring a goal and absolutely obliterating the goalie’s water bottle in the process. (As long as no one gets too dehydrated in the making of such films.)

Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller did it one better on Saturday: he scored an important goal that way. Miller presented the ultra-rare OTBBGWG (overtime bottle-breaking game-winning goal) as the Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-5 in OT.

Bask in the glory of that goal in the video above this post’s headline. Here’s a fun alternate angle:

By the way, Miller continues to be a deadly offensive weapon for the Canucks. This one-goal, one-assist output extended his current point streak to an impressive eight games (5G, 6A for 11 points). Overall, Miller has 31 points in 30 games during his first season in Vancouver.

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.