Rangers 4, Senators 1: Blame this one on Ottawa's hideous "Heritage" jerseys and their giant "O," which clearly stands for "oh sweet jesus." I didn't know what they are either, but don't worry, there is an entire PDF dedicated to their historical heinousness. Rick Nash is rounding into form with a goal (his fifth in the past seven games), +2 rating, and six shots on goal; Brad Richards added a power-play goal on five shots; Derek Stepan impressed with a goal, two assists, four shots, three hits, two takeaways, and two penalty minutes; and Mats Zuccarello iced the game with a goal late in the third. Behind five stupid penalties, a lone goal from Marc Methot, and Erik Karlsson's five shots and six blocked shots, Ottawa could get nothing going and should just burn those jerseys as a sacrifice to the Hockey Gods.
Canucks 3, "Those Idiots" 2 (SO): After Calgary sent out their fourth line to start the game, John Tortorella flipped out, a full brawl erupted two seconds later, and 142 penalty minutes were issued in the first five minutes of this crazy slugfest (204 in all). As Vancouver goon Tom Sestito explained, "Torts came in and told us that they're starting those idiots over there so we're going to match that and go with it." Flames' Coach Bob Hartley claimed he "had zero intentions" and made the move to "create energy," but in doing so, he also created an unhinged stalker in John Tortorella, who was videotaped trying to enter the Calgary locker room after the first period. Although it was difficult to tell what he was screaming amidst the obscenities, we can only assume Torts was sharing his Friendly's discount for ice cream sundaes after the game. In the end, Dale Weise, Kellan Lain (making his NHL debut), Kevin Bieksa, and Jason Garrison received fighting majors and game misconducts for Vancouver, while Kevin Westgarth, Blair Jones, Ladislav Smid, and Chris Butler were gifted the same for Calgary; Sestito and Brian McGrattan also got fighting majors and 10-minute misconducts for the Canucks. Yes, some hockey was also played. Chris Higgins iced the game in the fifth-round of the shootout, sneaking a shot through the five-hole to beat Karri Ramo. Ryan Kesler had a goal and an assist, Yannick Weber scored on the power play, and Roberto Luongo was strong between the pipes for Vancouver. Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan scored for Those Idiots. John Tortorella is currently dressed in all black and sitting in the bushes with binoculars at Bob Hartley's condo. Video courtesy of the Canucks:
UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): Here is video of an infuriated Tortorella trying to elbow his way into the locker room:
Sharks 5, Lightning 4: In less than seven minutes in the second period, Joe Pavelski scored a hat trick and San Jose came back from a 2-4 deficit to win the game. That was not the most impressive feat of the afternoon, however; Martin St. Louis, bitter about his Olympic snub, gave the finger to all of Canada with four goals, two on the power play, and six shots in a losing effort for Tampa Bay. Tommy Wingels had two assists, Matt Nieto had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Marleau added a goal, two assists, five shots on goal, two penalty minutes, one blocked shot, one hit, one takeaway, and one power-play point.
Jets 3, Oilers 2 (OT): Playing like a veteran, rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to push Winnipeg past the lowly Oilers, who have gone 0-4 on their current road trip. The Jets' other goal came from fellow rookie Mark Scheifele. David Perron and Jordan Eberle put Edmonton on the board, with Perron tying the game late in the third, but it was not enough .
Wild 3, Stars 2 (OT): For the second time in the past two games, Nate Prosser scored the game-winner for Minnesota behind very strong play from back-up goalie Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper is now 4-1 since January 7th, making the most of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Hardings' injuries. Erik Haula and Ryan Suter also lit the lamp for the Wild. The Stars, who have won one game in their past nine, received goals from Ryan Garbutt and Alex Chiasson. Without Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, and facing only 19 shots on goal, Kari Lehtonen inexplicably hates me, my fantasy team is now losing SV% by .03 points this week, and the state of Texas can just secede along with my frustrating fantasy goalie. I am not bitter at all.
Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 3 (SO): Columbus just wanted to make this one interesting. After allowing the game-tying goal to Tyler Myers with 24.9 seconds left in regulation, Ryan Johansen finally ended it in a shootout and extended the Blue Jackets win streak to six games. Sergei Bobrovsky, who got traded around my league like herpes last year, made 26 saves and continues to impress since returning from injury. Brandon Dubinsky, David Savard, and Matt Calvert added goals for Columbus, while Myers (with two) and Drew Stafford put Buffalo on the board with Tyler Ennis recording two assists. Matt Moulson almost scored at the start of the second period, but it was overturned for a "distinct kicking motion."
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3: James Van Riemsdyk can be a cocky asshole, but let's be serious, you would totally make out with him. After scoring the game-winning goal late in the third period during Hockey Night in Canada, Van Riemsdyk pulled at the Toronto logo in the middle of his jersey and pumped his arms, his own rendition of P.K. Subban's infamously zealous celebration in OT from Wednesday night. Cody Franson, who has been disappointingly streaky over the past two months, Phil Kessel, and Mason Raymond scored for Toronto, with Brendan Gallagher, Brian Gionta, and David Desharnais getting goals for Montreal. Nazem Kadri had two assists, a +2 rating, and five hits in front of a raucous crowd and his buddy Jimmy van Riemsdyk's jersey-popping antics.
Red Wings 3, Kings 2: Niklas Kronwall, proud member of my Laich a Virgins, is also a magician as evidenced by his strange boomerang goal from Saturday night. His shot was deflected high off a skate, launched into the protective netting out of play, somehow bounced back over the glass, hit Jonathan Quick in the back, and fell into the goal, tying the game at 2-2 with only 26.1 seconds left in regulation. Both sides seemed to agree that the goal never should have counted, but it wasn't even reviewable because none of the officials blew his whistle to stop play. This craziness happened after Mike Richards and Henrik Zetterberg scored 41 seconds apart in the second period, Jeff Carter seemed to win the game on a power-play goal with 2:15 left in the third, and Olympic teammates Jonathan Quick and Jimmy Howard bumped each other in a heated mid-ice exchange. Howard, who had punched Kyle Clifford and shoved Mike Richards earlier in the game to incite Quick's anger, later joked that they "were just discussing what [they] were going to do in Sochi." Like putting Icy Hot in each other's jock straps and burning one another's passports.
Hurricanes 3, Panthers 2: Alexander Semin scored two goals in the third period, only his seventh and eighth of the season, reminding folks from North Cackalacky (where I spent a decade from 1998 to 2008) that the $35 million five-year extension they gave him last March may not have been totally flushed down the toilet. After a Marcel Goc goal, Dmitry Kulikov scored with less than six minutes left for Florida to make it somewhat interesting, but Anton Khudobin slammed the door with a .949 SV%, bringing his record to an impressive 7-2. Khudobin is still only owned in 34% of Yahoo leagues. While his production will recede eventually, he is the top option for the Canes right now, who have three games in the next five days - pick him up if you need goalie help. Dating back to December 28th, the Panthers are a woeful 0-for-32 on the power play.
Flyers 6, Islanders 4: Unfortunately, as a Rangers' fan, both teams could not lose this entertaining, high scoring, back-and-forth game. Michael Raffl scored the game-winner with 4:15 left in the third period to secure the win for Philly. Andrej Meszaros had two goals, Mark Streit and Claude Giroux had two assists, while Jakub Voracek, Andy Hall, and Matt Read each scored a goal, too. Keep an eye on Meszaros. After being a healthy scratch for 20 games, he has scored three goals and eight assists in his past 10. Hours after signing a $12.3 million three-year extension, Steve Mason was pulled from the game for Ray Emery, a promising sign for the future. The Islanders, winners of five of their last six, received goals from John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck, Brock Nelson, and Brian Strait.
Ducks 3, Blues 2: The Ducks keep quacking along, winning 19 of their past 21 games and leading the NHL with 79 points. Behind strong net-minding from rookie Frederik Anderson and goals from Ryan Getzlaf, Matt Beleskey, and Cam Fowler, Anaheim jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead against St. Louis, who received both of their goals in the third period from Barret Jackman and Jaden Schwartz.
Avalanche 5, Predators 4: Nick Holden had two goals and an assist, while Jan Hejda, Gabriel Landeskog, and Matt Duchene scored as well, leading Colorado to its eighth win in the past 10 games. Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, and John Mitchell each had two assists for the Avalanche. Trailing 5-1 in the third after Devan Dubnyk struggled throughout his Nashville debut, the Predators clawed back behind goals from chiseled Swedish ice sculpture Roman Josi and his far uglier teammates Patric Hornqvist, Craig Smith, and Ryan Ellis. Shea Weber almost played hero, but his slap shot goal at the buzzer was ruled too late.
Coyotes 3, Devils 2: Anchoring the fourth line, Jeff Halpern and Jordan Szwarz both scored goals for Phoenix, giving the team an early boost. Martin Hanzal added a goal and an assist, as the Coyotes held on behind strong goaltending from Mike Smith. Jaromir Jagr scored his 696th goal for the Devils. His Gatorade bottle is rumored to be filled with a secret elixir mixed from Mountain Dew, baby's tears, purple jalapeno seeds, Viagra, and sea salt from the Arctic. Ryane Clowe chipped in with a goal and an assist, but it does not make me hate the "e" at the end of his first name any less.
I apologize for the late post. Last night was my best friend's birthday and we were out until the wee hours, um, baking cupcakes and sharing colas. I was, of course, thrilled to see 13 NHL games on the docket when my alarm ruined my life this morning; my head pounded with anticipation and/or a tribal death chant that was either screaming, "whoa, that Vancouver-Calgary fight was craycray" or "please get me a sausage McMuffin." No one knows for sure, but I plan to figure it out in sweatpants on the couch for the next 10-13 hours or so.