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The Buzzer: Ducks spoil Islanders’ streak; Stars keep shining

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Islanders’ streak over at 17 games

Perhaps it’s fitting that the Islanders’ 17-game point streak ended against one of the few teams that boasts goaltending comparable to the Isles’ own, especially when John Gibson is in net. The Ducks gave the Islanders their first regulation loss since Oct. 11, blanking Barry Trotz’s bunch 3-0 on Monday.

That wasn’t the only “your own medicine” element of this loss for the Islanders, either. The Ducks allowed quite a few more chances, but did a decent job of controlling the quality while losing the quantity battle. Gibson ultimately only needed 26 saves for that shutout, while Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler led the way with a goal and an assist each. Anders Lee has been great during this run, but Monday wasn’t his night, as he was on the ice for all three of the Ducks’ goals.

Three Stars

1. Alexander Radulov, Dallas Stars

The Stars have been almost as hot as the Islanders lately, and while Radulov (2G, 1A) and John Klingberg (3A) have been relatively quiet during Dallas’ tear, they made the big difference against the troubled-but-still-dangerous Golden Knights on Monday.

The Stars are now on a seven-game winning streak, have gone 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, are now 14-1-1 in their last 16 games after beginning the season on a 1-7-1 whimper.

Radulov bookended that win against Vegas with two power-play goals, and also assisted on Jason Dickinson‘s game-winner. It wasn’t as if the Stars’ usual top guns were totally absent (Tyler Seguin collected two assists), yet this win serves as a sobering reminder to opponents that Dallas can beat you in more ways than even the 2018-19 Stars could.

2. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Sabres managed a 2-1 lead at some point, and it seemed like Buffalo and the Bolts would have themselves a tightly matched game. The third period kind of ended that, as the Lightning strengthened what became a 3-2 lead with two shorthanded goals. The second was scored by Palat, who ended Monday with two primary assists and the 5-2 shorthanded tally.

Palat’s now on a nice little mini-hot streak, generating points in three consecutive games (two goals, three assists for five of his 15 points this season).

The Lightning are now on a three-game winning streak and seem to have found their legs with a 7-3-0 mark in their last 10 games.

3. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

Is it Artemi, as I’ve been accustomed to spelling it (and the Rangers’ website spells it that way), or Artemiy Panarin, as it seems to be on the star player’s Twitter page?

I feel about as confounded as most defenders do against the absolutely slick winger, who collected assists on all three of the Rangers’ goals in a 3-2 OT win against the Wild. Seeing Mats Zuccarello‘s tribute video was probably super emotional for many Rangers, but not Panarin, who was one of actually quite a few new guys who never shared a Rangers locker room with the Norwegian wizard.

Panarin now has 30 points through his first 22 games with the Rangers, including five (1G, 4A) during his past two.

Highlights

I’m partial to this fantastic move by Ryan Donato against the Rangers, although Donato’s Wild ultimately fell short:

Factoids

Scores

TBL 5 – BUF 2
NYR 3 – MIN 2 (OT)
PHI 2 – VAN 1
PIT 3 – CGY 2 (OT)
CBJ 1 – OTT 0
NSH 3 – STL 2 (SO)
DAL 4 – VGK 2
ANA 3 – NYI 0
SJS 4 – ANA 3 (OT)

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.

Martin Brodeur struggles, ties all-time losing record

Martin Brodeur owns a ton of the NHL’s most glamorous goaltending records, but tonight’s humbling 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs will put him in a bad place in the record books. The future Hall of Famer joined great retired netminders Curtis Joseph and Gump Worsley with 352 losses, tying him for the all-time mark according to Tom Gulitti.

Really, that’s the funny thing about hyping up goalie wins totals. Things like losses, ties, shootout losses and overtime defeats sort of get lost at sea. Looking a little deeper reveals that even the best athletes face a ton of nights they’d rather forget. For Brodeur, that number extended to 352.* (He probably isn’t crazy about those 82 playoff losses either.)

Those huge numbers are reserved for discussions about his lofty legacy, though. In the present tense, Brodeur is struggling with something he hasn’t dealt with really since his career took off: the threat of being usurped by a backup. Johan Hedberg has been the de facto leader in net for the Devils for much of the last two seasons and tonight’s struggles didn’t exactly squash that developing controversy.

Brodeur allowed five goals on just 23 shots to push his record to 0-2 in three games played this season. It’s unfair to throw the veteran under the bus after one rough night – hey, he made a highlight reel save, at least – but the Devils shouldn’t hand out starts like charity. If Hedberg continues to be the real go-to guy in net, Peter DeBoer doesn’t have much choice but to keep his big name goalie on the bench.

At least it would keep him from taking sole possession of that defeat record for a little longer …

* – Actually, it depends on how you define a disappointing night. His full record is: 625-352-105, with 54 overtime losses.Yup, that makes my brain hurt too.

James Reimer exhilarates Leafs fans with 32-save shutout

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Don’t blame Toronto Maple Leafs fans for feeling exhilarated right now, even if it’s just one game.

The team still has unsolved questions – the most pressing one might regard the health of center Tim Connolly – but two of their wild cards came up aces in a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens tonight. James Reimer looked sharp in his first game of the season, stopping 32 shots on his way to a shutout. Reimer earned the Maple Leafs’ first opening night shutout since Oct. 7, 2000, when the team produced another 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens. (Curtis Joseph was the Leafs goalie on that night, making 26 saves.)

Judging Reimer’s outlook based on one game is even more dangerous than assuming that his first 25 NHL games are a clear indication of the future, but it was still a great performance. The Maple Leafs were out-shot 32-18 in their season opener, but Reimer was the biggest difference-maker.

As if that wasn’t dazzling enough, the Leafs enjoyed great nights from their sometimes-criticized marquee players. That was most clearly seen in the game’s insurance goal; Phil Kessel made a heads-up play and then sent a nice pass to captain Dion Phaneuf, who rifled a shot past Carey Price.

Coming back from tough injuries

Leafs fans might have seen those performances coming, but Matthew Lombardi’s contribution was far more surprising. He didn’t just manage to play earlier than expected in his first game back from concussion issues; Lombardi notched the game-winning goal on a rebound while playing shorthanded. Lombardi and Mike Brown created a rush on the penalty kill, as a shot sent Carey Price to the ground. Price couldn’t get up in time to stop Lombardi, who pounced on a rebound to score his first goal since April 10, 2010.

Overall, it was quality over quantity for Lombardi, though. He only played a little more than 11 minutes and took just two faceoffs (which he lost). You can understand head coach Ron Wilson’s decision to ease him back into the lineup, though.

Speaking of players returning from tough injuries, Max Pacioretty played in his first regular season game since that ill-fated Zdeno Chara hit last season. The up-and-coming Habs winger played a bit more than 15 minutes, threw two hits, took four shots and had a -1 rating.

***

Again, some Toronto fans are probably dreaming of watching their players shake open champagne bottles and raise the Stanley Cup, but most are reasonable enough to put this win in perspective. Seeing a sharp Reimer and a healthy Lombardi – not to mention good games from Phaneuf and Kessel – won’t make them feel glum, though, either.

Chris Osgood adapting to a new life as a goalie coach

When Chris Osgood called it a career this summer, it set up this season to be the first since the early 90s that he wouldn’t be preparing for a NHL season in goal. With his career over and the debate over whether he’s a Hall Of Fame-caliber goalie set to rage on for the next few years, Osgood is staying in Detroit but changing things up job-wise.

Instead of being the guy leading the way in goal, he’ll be the one teaching the young goalies coming through the system how to do things better. Osgood is jumping on board with the Wings staff as an assistant goalie coach focusing on helping out Wings prospect goalies in the system. For him, this year’s training camp is going to have a decidedly different feel to it.

Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News caught up with Osgood to see how he’s adjusting to his new role and new life as a teacher on the ice.

“I’m excited about it,” he said, flashing a familiar smile.

“It’ll be fun. I’m going to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to going up to Traverse City with the young guys.”

Freshly back from his annual summer stay at his home in British Columbia, Osgood spent much of the Red Wings’ voluntary skate Wednesday talking with the Wings’ longtime goaltending coach, Jim Bedard, whom Osgood is to assist.

“I’m not doing too much, now,” Osgood said. “I’m just learning from Jimmy; just kind of riding shotgun, listening to what he says and learning how to run the drills myself, so when I’m in Toledo and Grand Rapids, I can do that.”

For Osgood, the one thing he’ll be best at teaching younger goalies is how important it is to be mentally tough. Through Osgood’s entire career he was a guy who went from being a starter to being swapped out in favor or someone else with a bigger name only to keep proving himself worthy again and again. In the mid-90s with Detroit he traded spots with Mike Vernon. In the 2000s he left Detroit because the Wings were moving on with guys like Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph, and even Manny Legace.

It took until 2008 for Osgood to get his redemption in Detroit when he supplanted Hasek in goal during the playoffs and led the Wings to the Stanley Cup. You don’t go through a career like that without having the thickest of skin, a trait that defined Osgood by the time he retired. If Osgood can help the Red Wings’ youth to have that same brand of mental toughness, even the worst of games will only motivate them to improve and help keep them focused on moving forward.

Why the Hockey Hall of Fame has to open its doors a little wider

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Once again the Hockey Hall of Fame voting committee has made their call and once again they’ve done a good job electing a group of players for the 2011 Hall of Fame class. There’s no way to take umbrage with any of Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour, or Mark Howe. They’re all outstanding players worthy of the Hall and for one player it’s been an excruciating wait to have his name called.

For Mark Howe it’s taken him 16 years to be elected to the Hall of Fame and while for some that might lead to an argument over whether or not he was actually worthy of the honor, in his situation, we’ll take it to mean something else. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to relax their limits on how many players to honor in a given year.

Any given year for the elections a maximum of four players can be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. These limits were put in place when the NHL was much smaller than it is now and the number of players playing hockey around the world were vastly smaller. With the number of great and immensely talented players that come through the NHL now and with so many of them with stellar cases for the Hockey Hall of Fame the backlog of players that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame that will have to sweat things out year to year is only going to grow.

After taking a look at some of the bigger snubs were after this year’s round of elections while taking a look ahead to next year, no matter what we’re going to see some guys being left out. For some of the guys that have been waiting things out, the wait might get a lot longer. For those coming up that miss out, they too could find themselves in the same position as Howe has being wrongly left out in the cold. Instead of keeping the number limited to the archaic four,  the Hall of Fame should as well and open it up so as many as eight could be elected in a single year. After all, the NHL and other leagues around the world and throughout North America have expanded to such great numbers, it’s only right that the Hall does as well.

Some of you will be critical of this saying that it’ll make the Hall of Fame into the “Hall of Decent Players.” Not so much. If nothing else, the Hall of Fame voting committee has shown their ability to restrain themselves some years and not electing their full number of those that could be elected. Not every year ends with a full complement of those eligible amongst players, builders, women, and officials.

For instance in 2010, Dino Ciccarelli was the only player elected. In 2008, just two players were elected in Glenn Anderson and Igor Larionov. Same in 2005 when just Cam Neely and Valeri Kharlamov were elected. Giving the voters the ample leeway to vote freely rather than hem and haw over numerous qualified players would at least open the doors to the hall that much wider for everyone that deserves to be in there to make it in there when they should.

For players like Dave Andreychuk (he of 640 goals), Adam Oates (16th all-time in points, one spot ahead of Doug Gilmour), Pavel Bure (a dynamic career cut short by injury) and numerous others, their calls to the Hall of Fame have yet to be made and there’s no good reason why. With the likes of Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Mats Sundin, and Curtis Joseph eligible for the first time next year the list will only grow longer one way or another.

Keeping these players out of the Hall of Fame is silly and does them a disservice. No one should have to sweat things out as long as Mark Howe did after having a Hall of Fame career. If the Hockey Hall of Fame wants to properly honor its players, letting more of them in when they’re eligible and approved to enter would be the right way to do it.