Hey look, goals … lots of them. Let’s jump in and survey Tuesday’s 10 games.
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BRUINS 7, SENATORS 3
-- Life is full of surprises.
Take the Hayes brothers, for example. While the Rangers were sending Kevin Hayes a message by sitting him, his brother Jimmy managed a hat trick, helping Boston earn a key win here.
This was the first time Hayes managed to generate a hat trick.
-- I really have to marvel at Mike Hoffman's continued climb to the elite among snipers, or at least enough rungs up the ladder that he's getting awfully close. He already has 18 goals on the season, the same total as Alex Ovechkin, Joe Pavelski and Tyler Toffoli.
-- Speaking of PIM, Chris Neil had a great all-around game: goal, assist, +2 rating and 14 PIM in 11 minutes TOI. Not bad for a guy who was on a team that lost by three.
-- Brad Marchand delivered a low hit and speared someone, so keep an eye out for possible supplemental discipline. He’s just one of those guys that seems to be up to something especially bad at least 4-5 times per season, mundanely bad almost every game and yet he generally avoids suspensions. At least he’s a talented player, unlike the usual miscreants who … still tend to get away with way too much in an NHL with at-times strange priorities.
ISLANDERS 6, MAPLE LEAFS 3
Beyond obvious health factors, there's really little reason to give the Leafs net to Bernier instead of Reimer at this point.
At least Bernier managed a few face-saving wins, though.
-- It's not like the Islanders dominated from a SOG perspective, obviously. Score effects come into play when the game is basically lopsided from the first period, but still, Toronto managed a 33-21 SOG advantage, and the Islanders blocked 21 shots to 11 by the Buds.
-- P.A. Parenteau was a great budget pickup, at minimum. He's on another roll, as Tuesday's goal extended his point streak to four games (one goal, three assists).
DEVILS 3, HURRICANES 2
-- I feel like we've fallen into some abyss where these two teams just play over and over again, like some sort of puck purgatory (or worse).
It's easy to see why: this closed off a back-to-back set, and the two teams met three times in December.
Also, it's because they're falling into a terrible void of sadness. Don't forget that factor.
-- I've seen people beat up some of the Devils' top guys in some circles, but honestly, I continue to be stunned that they keep producing ... or at least one of them usually does.
-- Solid game for Eric Staal, who scored both of the Hurricanes' tallies (Kris Versteeg grabbing a helper on each). It's pretty stunning that he only has seven goals on the season after this, especially since he's played 37 games and his shooting percentage is low (but not crazy-low) at 7.9 percent.
It's as if he's waving the red flag for anyone looking at his size and thinking he could be THE GUY when it's increasingly clear that he's just a PRETTY GOOD GUY.
BLUE JACKETS 6, STARS 3
-- Hey, maybe John Tortorella's incessant complaining is getting to Columbus?
Ugh, I hate even perpetuating the idea that his tactics work, although I do enjoy the fact that he generates buzz and easy headlines. Better than focusing on the generally sad state of this team, right?
-- Boone Jenner and Brandon Saad are among the few solid-to-good stories revolving around the Blue Jackets, so it almost makes sense that they both hit the 14-goal mark on Tuesday. Scott Hartnell now has 15 himself.
-- Great work by Curtis McElhinney, who stopped 40 out of 43 shots to improve to just 2-6-2 on the season.
I don't think spending $10.4 million in cap space is really the smart move - my feeling is that the rest of the team props them up, which is the way it should be ... just not at that price - but it's nice that the Stars can ignore purse politics and just go with whichever goalie's playing well at any given time.
Theoretically, at least.
PANTHERS 3, CANADIENS 1
-- Florida fittingly sits atop the Atlantic after they dispatched the former stalwart, extending an impressive winning streak to seven games.
-- Aleksander Barkov was the standout of the night, scoring two goals and one assist, giving him 23 points in 27 games.
He now has five points in his past two contests and 10 points in his last seven games.
Does that make him a borderline star in this low-scoring league?
-- Jaromir Jagr scored his 11th goal of the season, giving him as many as Barkov. He just keeps chugging along.
-- Max Pacioretty scored his 15th goal, Montreal's lone tally.
BLUES 4, PREDATORS 3 (OT)
-- These two teams strike me as squads of fairly similar strength, even if I'm not so sure they'll meet in the playoffs (in a less ridiculously competitive division, this would be a clear No. 2 vs. No. 3 battle).
Still, if it happened, this would be a fascinating series to watch.
-- The Blues managed 1-0 and 3-1 leads, so Nashville can at least take some solace in getting a standings point out of this one. Shea Weber (11th goal of the season) and Colin Wilson helped to close the gap.
-- Puzzling that Colin Wilson only hit his third goal of the season, and he only has 14 points in 32 games. His shooting percentage (4.6) indicates that better days are coming, and he now has five points in his last four games.
-- Carter Hutton lost in overtime in just his second appearance in December, dropping his overall record to 3-1-1. Apparently he's received nice goal support in his sparse starts, as he has that nice record despite a .895 save percentage.
JETS 4, RED WINGS 1
-- Connor Hellebuyck has more or less been the man since December, and the last two games have shown why. After pitching a 30-save shutout on Sunday, Hellebuyck made 33 out of 34 saves to improve his record to 7-3-0.
Winnipeg still has a long way to go to make a real push for the playoffs (Nashville's seven points ahead for the final wild card spot), but Hellebuyck is keeping them alive.
-- Can the Red Wings send Jimmy Howard to the AHL for a conditioning stint or something? He seems like a wayward soul these days. He dropped to 7-5-4 after allowing four goals on just 14 shots. Even paycheck politics can't keep Howard in a near-equal situation with Petr Mrazek at this point (Mrazek stopped all 11 shots he saw in relief, by the way).
-- Jacob Trouba ended a big slump in a big way with this two-goal performance, which included a SHG. Before Tuesday, Trouba failed to score a point in eight straight games.
He's been awfully streaky scoring-wise this season overall, and if he keeps this up, Winnipeg should have a much easier time negotiating his next contract that reports indicated.
(He does get decent ice time generally, though.)
DUCKS 1, FLAMES 0
-- Anaheim is starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel, as the Ducks are scraping decent work together in times when you expect them to finally roll over and give up.
They've now won two in a row and are collecting points fairly nicely (3-1-1 in their last five games).
It's easy to look at their placing at second-to-last in the West and see the situation as dire, but the bottom line is that they have a shot at one of the last two seeds in the pathetic Pacific. Vancouver is especially vulnerable; while the Canucks have 37 standings points, the Ducks have played three fewer games. Getting a win over Calgary in regulation was a nice step in the right direction for a team that's more alive than maybe it really should be.
-- John Gibson got the shutout, but don't give him too much credit. He only needed 14 saves to do so on Tuesday.
-- Karri Ramo really wasn't that much busier, making 20 out of 21 saves in the loss.
KINGS 5, OILERS 2
-- The second period really made this game, especially an impressive burst by the Kings. In less than a two-minute span, Dwight King, Michael Mersch and Tyler Toffoli made it 3-0 for Los Angeles. The Kings took the period 4-1 overall.
-- Edmonton is at least showing a propensity to compete in the SOG battle, as they took this one 44-33 (including 13-10 in the first period, when it was 0-0).
-- Dustin Brown is on a bit of a hot streak, with Tuesday's one-goal, two-assist performance being the high point. Brown now has five points in his past four games versus nine in his previous 32.
-- Jonathan Quick won his third game in a row, making 42 out of 44 stops. He's only lost twice in regulation and three times overall since Nov. 23.
BLACKHAWKS 7, COYOTES 5
-- Chicago's biggest contributors were usual suspects: Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith, both of whom enjoyed one-goal, two-assist nights. Andrew Desjardins is an honorable mention with a pair of assists.
-- Shane Doan enjoyed quite the night, and has really been dangerous this past week (and not just when it comes to questionable hits).
He generated a hat trick on nine SOG on Tuesday, his second three-point night in his past four games (failing to score in the two other contests).
Somehow that's only the second hat trick of Doan's career, who's been around since approximately the Jurassic era.
-- It's always interesting to see how former teammates do against their old pals. Last season's rental Antoine Vermette had a quiet night, failing to score a point on three SOG while suffering to a -2 rating.
-- High-scoring night in the NHL. One 12-goal game, one 10-goal match and two nine-goal contests by my quick scan.
/Cues people who are just sort of lurking to blurt out "Hey look, scoring isn't a problem because of this one night! Now I'll just sleep through the many boring games. Cool? Cool."