The Buzzer: Patrick beats Patrik; Tkachuk fight; Draisaitl drives Oilers rally

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NHL Three Stars from Tuesday

1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks over Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets

As the headline indicates, Patrick Kane and his Blackhawks did enough to be Patrik Laine and his still-new team, the Blue Jackets, on Tuesday night.

Kane ended up with four points (one goal, three assists), while Laine finished with three points (two goals and one assist).

For all of the attention Kevin Lankinen (understandably) generates as a catalyst for a surprisingly competitive Blackhawks team, you cannot forget Kane’s contributions. Kane now has nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points in 20 games this season. If you prorated Patrick Kane’s 30 points in 20 games over an 82-game campaign, that would translate to a 123-point season. His career-high is 110 from 2018-19.

Changing gears to Laine … well, it hasn’t been all good so far in Columbus. As you likely remember, we barely had time to get used to Laine in a Blue Jackets jersey before John Tortorella benched him. That’s not the last setback, either.

After Tuesday, Laine’s a point-per-game player as a Blue Jacket (10 points in as many games). The production is there, even if the all-around play isn’t.

(For what it’s worth, Kane brings his own double-edged sword game to the table, people just linger on it less. Probably because he scores even more than Laine, points-wise.)

Even if Laine fails to ever be anything but a sieve defensively, he’ll earn big money if he can replicate nights like Tuesday. Laine scoring goals (not a goal, goals) on the power play, shooting from Alex Ovechkin‘s “office?” The Blue Jackets probably can work with that. Eventually?

2. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers

For Canucks fans, there might have been at least a slight sense of relief to start Tuesday. Just 1:06, Bo Horvat gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead. Elias Pettersson assisted on that goal, and provided one of his own. Even Tyler Myers (and his albatross contract) scored a goal. A 3-0 lead? That’s nice.

*Jaws soundtrack kicks in*

Of course, the headline sort of gave things away that this wouldn’t be a stroll in the park for Vancouver.

Instead, the Oilers waged an impressive comeback to win 4-3 — in regulation, too.

While Connor McDavid loomed large (and fast) with a game-tying 3-3 goal, it was Leon Draisaitl who starred in this rally. Draisaitl sent a beautiful pass to McDavid for that goal, one of three assists by the reigning Art and Hart winner.

Could this be that rare season where the Oilers’ overall … um, struggles … can’t subvert the brilliance of McDavid and Draisaitl? You get that feeling, at least.

3. Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres

Throughout the Buffalo Sabres’ Forever Rebuild, there have been some goalies who sprouted up and put together hot streaks.

For some, those runs ended up being closer to last gasps than signs of thing to come. Michal Neuvirth falls in that category. Others, like Robin Lehner, ended up going on to bigger and better things.

Quietly, Linus Ullmark’s shown promise for the Sabres. Last season, Ullmark generated a .915 save percentage that was more impressive when you consider the Sabres’ sometimes shabby defense. He’s been hit-or-miss this season, but Ullmark was great on Tuesday, making 41 saves.

For all we know, a strong Ullmark season might mean more for his trade value than anything else. The Sabres need all of the happy developments they can get, though, so we’ll see if a 27-year-old can heat up.

Brady Tkachuk fight, Brady Tkachuk silliness

It’s not a marathon bout by any stretch, but Brady Tkachuk vs. Ben Chiarot was bloody and fairly entertaining:

I’m not sure Brady Tkachuk can outright claim victory in the fight. But he can definitely use the “You should see the other guy” line with Chiarot.

Also, there was this …

Rarely a dull moment with Keith’s kids. (Brady Tkachuk scored two goals, by the way.)

Controversy of the night: Goalie interference or not?

Tkachuk’s Senators squeaked out a shootout win against the Canadiens. Should that game have even gotten to overtime, though? Brendan Gallagher and the Habs think not:

Highlight of Tuesday night in the NHL

After being benched, Kasperi Kapanen bounced back with an assist, and this overtime game-winner:

Tuesday’s NHL scores

Penguins 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Blackhawks 6, Blue Jackets 5 (SO)
Senators 5, Canadiens 4 (SO)
Sabres 4, Devils 1
Predators 2, Red Wings 0
Oilers 4, Canucks 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.

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    Penguins’ Kris Letang returns to practice 10 days after stroke

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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to practice with his teammates just 10 days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

    The 35-year-old Letang remains out indefinitely, with the club describing him as “day to day.”

    Letang said he felt “pretty good” after being greeted by stick taps from his teammates when he skated onto the ice at the team’s practice facility. Still, the married father of two called the experience “scary,” particularly for his family.

    “My kids, they don’t care if I’m a hockey player or not,” he said. “They care about having a dad. Same with my wife. She could care less about hockey. She knows there’s so much more. After hockey, there’s a long time and you want to be able to enjoy those moments with your family, with your kids.”

    Letang missed more than two months in 2014 after his first stroke, which was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. The condition also led to the second stroke, which Letang suffered on Nov. 28 after dealing with a series of debilitating headaches.

    This time, the symptoms have resolved themselves much more quickly, according to team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, who described this stroke as “smaller” than the one Letang endured in 2014.

    Letang began skating on his own just two days after the diagnosis and was cleared to return to practice on Thursday though both Letang and Vyas stressed they are in no rush for him to play in games.

    “We don’t think this is accelerated in any way,” Vyas said. “We are taking all the right precautions to make sure that it is safe to go out and play and when that time comes we’ll let him go back to playing his sport.”

    Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said it was a “relief” to see Letang back at work.

    “It’s a great visual that he’s making progress,” Sullivan said. “Our medical team that has monitored him extremely closely feels comfortable with some of the progress that he’s making and the steps he’s taken. Everyone was excited for him to join the group.”

    Letang signed a six-year contract extension over the summer that will carry him into his 40s if he decides to play that long. Vyas said the data around strokes is “evolving” though it is unclear if Letang is now more susceptible to having additional strokes now that he’s had a second one.

    The six-time All-Star is cautious but optimistic.

    “We’ve been through this,” Letang said. “Me and Dharmesh have a clear understanding that we’re going to take all the time we need and make sure the research is possible and it’s no danger for me to keep going.”

    The Penguins are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games and have won three straight heading into a home-and-home series with the Sabres. They’re also eager to have Letang’s familiar No. 58 back in the lineup, but only when he’s ready.

    “He’s been here for a long time and his experience and everything that he brings on and off the ice, the way he competes (is important),” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “But I think in the (locker) room, (he has) poise and (he’s) somebody who’s been around a long time and whose experience you feel when he’s around.”

    Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

    Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

    “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

    Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

    “That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

    Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

    Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

    Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

    “We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

    Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

    Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

    Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

    Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

    Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

    STREAKING

    Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

    NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

    UP NEXT

    Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

    Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

    Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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    PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

    Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

    Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

    Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

    Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

    Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

    The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

    Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

    Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.

    Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

    “The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

    Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

    Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.