Hurricanes 6, Senators 3: Featuring a seven-goal second period, Carolina continued to make Ottawa its bitch below the Mason-Dixon line; the Hurricanes are 11-0-1 in their past 12 home games against the Senators. The Canes received two goals along with an assist from Manny Malhotra, who I cannot help but picture in my head as Mothra wielding a hockey stick against Godzilla. Eric Staal, Riley Nash, Tuomo Ruutu, and Nathan Gerbe added goals for Carolina, with Gerbe and Andrej Sekera also getting two assists. Kyle Turris scored twice (one short-handed), while Clarke MacArthur and Eric Gryba each had two helpers for Ottawa. After missing five games, the rusty Robin Lehner started in goal, only to be yanked in the second period for Craig Anderson. Anton Khudobin, however, is now 9-3 for Carolina, with a very respectable 2.13 GAA and .930 SV%. Pick him up if you need help in goal.
Blues 4, Islanders 3 (SO): We have not seen a scandal like this on Long Island since Amy Fisher. With only 27 seconds remaining in regulation on a slushy Saturday in New York, T.J. Oshie tied the game for the Blues, snatching victory out of the Islanders' gloves. Then, on the power play and with 1:15 left in overtime, Vanek seemingly won the game, sneaking the puck past Jaroslav Halak for the apparent game-winner. The goal, however, was overturned on review by the NHL office in Toronto, snatching victory from the Isles...again. Although the puck appeared to glance off his skate, there was no distinct kicking motion, nor any overt effort to redirect the shot, and the referees initially ruled it a good goal. Vanek was livid after the game and implied that a more popular team like the Penguins would have been treated differently. He put the Islanders up early, scoring in the first period along with Kyle Okposo; Matt Martin then put them ahead 3-2 with a goal in the second-period. The Blues were incessant, though. Vladimir Tarasenko had six shots and scored twice, and Kevin Shattenkirk and Alexander Steen scored in the shootout to seal the victory. Ten players on St. Louis are headed to Sochi, tied for most in the NHL with Detroit and Chicago.
Bruins 6, Flyers 1: This was an old-fashioned drubbing. Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla scored twice, Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron chipped in goals, and Tuukka Rask locked down the net for Boston. Philadelphia received only one sad power-play goal from Claude Giroux. Since being gifted with a contract extension last weekend, Steve Mason has now been pulled twice in three starts. Fun times in Philly, for sure. David Krejci had three assists, Toney Krug and Iginla had two, and Milan Lucic added one for the Bruins. Milan hates being left out.
Sabres 5, Blue Jackets 2: After losing five in a row, Buffalo needed this win. Christian Ehrhoff had a nice night with a short-handed goal, two assists, +4 rating, three shots, two blocked shots, and one takeaway, while Matt Ellis, Marcus Foligno, Cody Hodgson, and Steve Ott rounded out the scoring for the Sabres. Ryan Miller finally received some help behind a fantastic 36 saves and a .947 SV%. Mark Letestu and Derek MacKenzie both had a goal and an assist for Colombus. Sergei Bobrovsky gave up three goals, two short-handed, on only 10 shots before getting pulled early for Curtis McElhinney.
Lightning 5, Avalanche 2: Rookie hotshot Tyler Johnson scored a hat trick, Victor Hedman tallied three assists, and Valtteri Filppula added a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay, who spanked Colorado. The Avalanche received a goal and an assist from the streaky Tyson Barrie, a goal from John Mitchell, and a strong night from Johnson's Calder competition, Nathan MacKinnon, who had an assist. In his season debut, Sami Aittokalio looked overwhelmed, giving up three goals on 18 shots before being pulled for Semyon Varlamov.
Capitals 5, Canadiens 0: Alex Ovechkin is back from injury and back to scoring mindblowing goals - and to celebrate, the Capitals finally won a game after losing seven straight. Ovechkin juggled the puck on his stick multiple times before batting it into the goal in another how-the-f-does-he-do-that moment. Check out the video below. John Carlson, John Erskine, and Jay Beagle, who all sound like white policeman, also scored for Washington, while Casey Wellman, just recalled from AHL Hershey on Saturday, lit the lamp for his first goal of the season. Montreal's night was highlighted by, well, no one - unless you count Brandon Prust's 27 penalty minutes. At one point, the Capitals had a 26-3 advantage in shots on goal. In fact, the Canadiens held a players-only meeting after the disaster to hold hands and discuss their shame.
Jets 5, Maple Leafs 4 (OT): Big Buff strikes again. Dustin Byfuglien hammered a low shot into the corner of the net with 2:16 remaining in overtime to give Winnipeg the win, after Phil Kessel had tied the game with only 1:33 left in regulation. Bryan Little had a goal and an assist, Andrew Ladd added two helpers, and Mark Scheifele, Zach Bogosian, and Blake Wheeler also scored for Winnipeg. James Reimer was pulled for Jonathan Bernier halfway through the second period, which included a three-minute span featuring two goals by each team, but scoring plays from Dion Phaneuf, Troy Bodie, and Tim Gleason were not enough for Toronto.
Stars 3, Penguins 0: I certainly didn't see this one coming. Jamie Benn, Rich Peverley, and Sergei Gonchar led Dallas to an improbable shutout over Pittsburgh, useless on all fronts. Up 8-2, but barely down in two goalie categories during this week's head-to-head match-up, I had to choose between starting Kari Lehtonen or Marc Andre Fleury last night (since I had already started Khudobin). I, of course, went with Fleury, which did not annoy me at all. This is Lehtonen's second shutout in three games, after he ruined my life for most of December and January. The streaky bastard, who even had an assist, is driving me nuts.
Sharks 3, Wild 2 (OT): Unlike Philadelphia's Steve Mason, San Jose's Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau certainly know how to sign a contract extension without turning into pumpkins; both superstars scored on Saturday night - Thornton with two goals, including the game-winner in OT, and Marleau with one - only days after signing $20M extensions. Joe Pavelski and Matt Irwin each had two assists in the victory. The Wild rolled to an early lead behind goals by Matt Cooke and Keith Ballard, but they wound up losing for the ninth time in the past 10 games in San Jose. Minnesota won only 18 of 59 face-offs compared with San Jose's 41, which played a major factor in the loss, almost as much as Marleau's dazzling baby blues. Clayton Stoner and Mike Brown dropped their gloves early in the game, each earning five-minute majors for fighting.
Ducks 3, Kings 0: In the first-ever warm-weather outdoor game in the NHL, amidst beach volleyball courts, palm trees, frisbees, and a "Californian Carnival," the Los Angeles Kings were shutout in front of over 54,000 people at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night. The Ducks jumped to a quick lead behind goals by Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey, and later added an empty-netter from Andrew Cogliano, impressively earning their 21st win in 24 games; Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Bonino, and Teemu Selanne assisted on the plays. Jonas Hiller was excellent, making a perfect 36 saves including Anze Kopitar's penalty shot in the first-period. Even with Jeff Carter's seven shots on goal, the Kings were the opposite of impressive.