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The Buzzer: McDavid passes Kucherov

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A new points king, and some concerns for the Kings

With two goals on Saturday, Connor McDavid might just pull off an impressive-yet-depressing feat: winning the Art Ross Trophy and then sitting at home after his team misses the playoffs. He now has 96 points on the season, one more than Nikita Kucherov.

That nice output helped the Edmonton Oilers upset the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in regulation. With this result, the idle Anaheim Ducks hopped into the third spot in the Pacific, while wins for the Avalanche and Blues force Los Angeles out of the wild-card spots, too. More on that here.

Here’s the goal that gave McDavid the lead, at least briefly:

If nothing else, McDavid might generate two 100-point seasons in a row.

Players of the Night

  • Nicklas Backstrom was dishing out some great passes in Washington’s 6-4 win against Montreal. His four-assist night is quite the accomplishment, though you could argue that it isn’t all that rare for the slick Swede.

  • Vincent Trocheck generated a clutch performance for the Panthers, collecting two goals and an assist during a third period rally that saw them avoid being spoiled by the Arizona Coyotes. Keith Kinkaid generated back-to-back wins for the Devils, with 35 of 36 saves coming in a tight win against the Lightning. This post has more on what all of that means for the playoff races.
  • Alexandar Georgiev getting more reps is one of the silver linings of the Rangers roughing it through the end of the regular season. He’s now 4-3-1, yet with a strong .926 save percentage after making 43 out of 44 saves in a win against the Sabres on Saturday.

An ovation for Karlsson

The fans in Ottawa gave Erik Karlsson a heartwarming ovation during his return to the Senators lineup following the death of his infant son. Karlsson collected an assist in Ottawa’s loss.

Courageous fight

Brenden Dillon probably gets the W in this jarringly aggressive fight, but give Garnet Hathaway credit for rallying back in the end, and merely for dropping the gloves against a larger competitor. Wow.

Highlights

Leafs great Borje Salming enjoyed himself during Toronto’s win, including this patently weird moment.

Fantastic save by Jake Allen, who helped the Blues thwart the Blue Jackets in a big game.

Carl Soderberg finished quite the sequence for Colorado’s only actual goal before the Avs edged Vegas in a shootout.

More Factoids

Year after year, Bruce Boudreau churns out regular-season wins. Maybe one of these days he’ll enjoy more postseason success? (It certainly wouldn’t be easy this year, but still.)

Clayton Keller might need to practice Teemu Selanne’s sniping goal celebration at this rate.

Not bad for a team that’s been without Auston Matthews for big chunk of the season.

Scores

Avalanche 2, Golden Knights 1 (SO)
Sharks 5, Flames 1
Maple Leafs 4, Red Wings 3
Capitals 6, Canadiens 4
Hurricanes 5, Senators 2
Panthers 4, Coyotes 2
Devils 2, Lightning 1
Blackhawks 3, Islanders 1
Rangers 5, Sabres 1
Blues 2, Blue Jackets 1
Wild 4, Predators 1
Oilers 3, Kings 2

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.

Video: Trouba receives match penalty for hit on Flames’ Hrivik

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Tempers flared during the third period of Monday’s preseason game between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.

Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba received a match penalty for a hit at the blue line on Flames forward Marek Hrivik, leading to a melee along the boards.

Garnet Hathaway took exception to the hit, immediately jumping in and dropping the gloves with Trouba. Hathaway was also assessed an instigator penalty.

The hit occurred just after Hrivik dumped the puck into the Jets zone. Trouba stepped up at the line and delivered the hit, sending Hrivik hard to the ice.

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice commented on the hit after the game:

The league’s Department of Player Safety has been busy over the past few days, handing out preseason suspensions to Capitals forward Tom Wilson and, on Monday, Rangers forward Andrew Desjardins.

Gaudreau knows targeting won’t go away, so attention turns to Calgary’s response

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LOS ANGELES — This weekend will be a nice reprieve for Johnny Gaudreau.

The diminutive Calgary sniper won’t face many hacks, whacks, slashes or shadows when he participates in the league’s annual All-Star Game.

In fact, he probably won’t face any.

But when Gaudreau returns to the Flames and the regular season resumes, he’ll once again be subjected to targeting, something that’s become a major narrative this year.

“It’s part of the game,” Gaudreau said at Saturday’s All-Star media availability. “It’s not going to go away.

“It’s not going to be the first slash or the last slash I’ve taken. I’ll just play my game and try not to worry about it, try not to get frustrated.”

Just prior to this weekend’s festivities, the Gaudreau situation was front-and-center in Calgary.

After Toronto’s Leo Komarov blasted Gaudreau with a huge open-ice check, ex-Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan followed up a series of angry tweets by telling the Herald “sticking up for each other and being a team is crucial for morale,” adding “it goes so far in the dressing room.”

More, from the Herald:

“Those skilled players get enough abuse as it is as they’re against number one defensive pairings and the top checking line,” said McGrattan. “But with nobody sticking up for them, they’ll get that even more.

“He knows it’s going to happen again in the next week because teams know they can do whatever they want to this guy and nobody is going to do anything.”

The Komarov hit came just weeks after Anaheim center Ryan Kesler acknowledged he was intentionally targeting Gaudreau, and months after Johnny Hockey missed 10 games with a broken finger — which, per Flames GM Brad Treliving, happened on the 11th slash Gaudreau received in a game against Minnesota.

Treliving has emerged as an important figure in all this.

He’s clearly been displeased with how his star player has been treated — after the Wild game, Treliving acknowledged he spoke with NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom — and, in the Herald piece mentioned earlier, Treliving said he was “looking at everything right now” in terms of adding toughness.

Gaudreau touched on his GM’s remarks.

“Brad’s obviously looking into a lot of things, but I don’t think that’s really my call to make,” he said. “The game’s changed today, with speed and skill. At times it’s smarter to have that out there, and sometimes it’s smart to have your toughness out there.”

The strange part with this dilemma that, on paper, Calgary has plenty of guys to answer the bell. The Flames have fought the sixth-most times in the NHL this year (20), and often dress the likes of Deryk Engelland, Garnet Hathaway and Micheal Ferland.

Another enforcer-type, Brandon Bollig, is with the club’s AHL affiliate in Stockton.

So perhaps Calgary’s response won’t be a transaction — perhaps it will guys already on the roster heeding the call to keep the files off Johnny Hockey.

“I don’t really want to complain about it or anything, but some teams like to give it to other players,” Gaudreau said. “At times there’s definitely frustration.”

With Gaudreau getting roughed up, Flames ‘looking at everything’ for toughness

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In late December, we wrote about Anaheim center Ryan Kesler targeting Johnny Gaudreau, and how Kesler was just the latest to take physical liberties with Calgary’s prized winger.

Last week, the trend continued when Toronto’s Leo Komarov blasted Gaudreau with a huge open-ice check.

The Komarov hit, again, led to questions about Calgary’s response to Gaudreau targeting.

This time, the queries came from ex-Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan, who followed up a series of angry tweets by telling the Herald “sticking up for each other and being a team is crucial for morale,” adding “it goes so far in the dressing room.”

Captain Mark Giordano did come to Gaudreau’s defense by jumping Komarov but, to hear McGrattan explain it, the Flames needed more of a response beyond that single instance.

And perhaps Giordano’s general manager agreed.

More, from the Herald:

“I think we have got people who are able to handle that (rough stuff) but I’m looking at everything right now,” said Treliving of the lack of toughness theory explaining his star’s struggles.

“No question, there’s less room on the ice because he’s put himself in the position of being a top player. I think (the physical abuse) has always been there in his career. People are going to play hard against him and I think that gets magnified when production is down.”

Treliving and coach Glen Gulutzan both pointed out during the team’s recent four-game swoon there has been no pushback.

The Flames dressed enforcer Brandon Bollig frequently last season, but waived him at the start of this year and dispatched him to the AHL, where he’s been ever since.

That’s left most of the pugilistic endeavors to a pair of tough guys in d-man Deryk Engelland, and energy forward Garnet Hathaway. Another energy guy, Micheal Ferland, hasn’t been afraid to drop the gloves either.

So it’s not like the Flames have a lack of guys willing to do the job.

But there certainly seems to be issue with when those guys choose to do it.

Video: Sbisa hit so hard trainers pulled pieces of helmet off his head

You know you’ve encountered a hard hit when the resulting mess of a helmet is described in at least one place as “shrapnel.”

That seemed appropriate enough for what amounted to Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa‘s lid after a hard hit by Garnet Hathaway of the Calgary Flames.

Watch the heavy impact and truly bizarre “clean-up” job in the video above. This GIF also captures the Canucks staffer cleaning the helmet fragments from Sbisa’s scalp. Weird/gross.

Usually people utter the phrase “Poor Sbisa” in reaction to others criticizing Sbisa for a bad play or for something that maybe is not all his fault. This time, it is a purer pity, as that looked painful.