Drake Caggiula

Philadelphia Flyers' Jakub Voracek, left, gets the puck past St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington
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The Buzzer: Voracek nets OT beauty; Blackhawks win in Montreal

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Three Stars

1) Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

It was almost a disastrous night for the Flyers when they allowed two goals in the third period to force overtime. But, 3:33 into the extra session, Voracek showed great patience when he completed a clever toe drag and waited for an opportunity to seal the victory for the Flyers. The Czech winger has 10 points in the previous nine games.

2) Zack Smith, Chicago Blackhawks

Smith has not had a profound impact on the Blackhawks since being acquired in July from the Ottawa Senators. But the gritty forward recorded two goals in the opening period of Chicago’s 4-1 win in Montreal. Drake Caggiula took a puck from behind the net and found Smith alone in the slot just over five minutes into the game. A few minutes later Smith redirected a puck to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 advantage. With another year remaining on his contract at $3.25 million, it will be tough for Chicago to find a suitor at the NHL trade deadline.

3) Drake Caggiula, Chicago Blackhawks

The 25-year-old forward tallied a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks’ third consecutive win. Caggiula created two separate turnovers that generated goals for Chicago. He helped set up Smith for the opening goal when he took the puck from Montreal’s goalie behind the cage. Then he helped seal the victory when he stole a puck from Jordan Weal and fired a wrist shot past Charlie Lindgren.

Highlights of the Night

Voracek dangled around Alex Pietrangelo before firing a wrist shot past Jordan Binnington to close out the game.

Justin Faulk received credit for the goal, but Alexander Steen showed great vision when he fired a cross-ice pass to set up the power-play tally.

Stat of the Night

Scores

Chicago Blackhawks 4, Montreal Canadiens 1

Philadelphia Flyers 4, St. Louis Blues 3 (OT)

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Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Injuries, salary cap crunch will force Blackhawks to play shorthanded

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Times are tough for the Chicago Blackhawks right now.

They enter the week having lost five of their past six games and were completely embarrassed by the Colorado Avalanche over the weekend, being outscored by a 12-5 margin in back-to-back losses on Friday and Saturday.

Now they have to play the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday night, and will have to do so with a shorthanded roster that will include only 11 forwards due to an unfortunate combination of injuries, an illness, and a salary cap crunch.

It is not uncommon to see teams play with 11 forwards, but it is usually done because they are dressing a seventh defensman.

The Blackhawks do not even have that going for them on Monday.

Here is the situation:

  • Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Dylan Strome, and Drake Caggiula will all miss Monday’s game due to injury.
  • Keith, Strome, and Caggiula were all already sidelined and did not play in Saturday’s ugly 7-3 loss to the Avalanche, while Shaw’s injury (undisclosed) was revealed on Monday morning. The official word from the team is that he is currently being evaluated.
  • Adding to the issues is the fact goalie Robin Lehner (by far their best goalie so far this season) will not be available on Monday due to illness, forcing the team to recall goalie Kevin Lankinen from the American Hockey League. The problem is that move puts the Blackhawks against the salary cap, preventing them from calling up another forward to fill the open spot that all of the other injuries created.

This all paints a very bleak picture for the Blackhawks because it not only illustrates just how tight the team’s salary cap situation is, but it also serves as a reminder that they are spending a ton of money on a team that simply is not very good.

After they play the Blues on Monday, they have a few days to get healthy again and get some players back before they have to go on the road for a back-to-back that will take them through Boston and New Jersey.

While this type of shorthanded lineup is extremely uncommon, it is not completely unheard of. During the stretch run of the 2014-15 regular season the Pittsburgh Penguins were facing a similar situation when they were forced to play with only five defensemen in the lineup because of injuries and a salary cap situation that prevented any additional call-ups from the American Hockey League.

Adam Gretz is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Ducks’ Rakell tossed from game after ugly hit from behind

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You’re supposed to let up on a hit if you see the numbers, or avoid it completely. Rickard Rakell didn’t seem to get that memo on Wednesday night.

The Anaheim Ducks forward saw Drake Caggiula‘s No. 91 for a good stretch of time as they both chased down a puck that was dumped in by the latter early in the second period. As they both convened deep in Anaheim’s zone, Caggiula tried to slow up and make a play on the loose puck. Tried, because Rakell didn’t slow up at all, rather he made like a freight train and unloaded on the Blackhawks forward, who was helpless to the cause.

The reverse angle showed Caggiula’s head getting bounced off the glass before he fell to the ice. Caggiula needed to be helped up and helped off the ice, down the tunnel and out of the game.

Rakell, too, needed an escort out of the game as bloodthirsty Blackhawks players tried to seek out revenge. He was given five minutes for boarding and a game misconduct (and perhaps a call from the league’s player safety folks).

The Blackhawks managed to score on the power play but also gave up a shorty to make it a wash.

Caggiula was ruled out of the rest of the game with a concussion.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck