NHL Morning Skate – Dec. 28, 2013 Blackhawks are just scary good right now

Patrick Sharp

Patrick Sharp’s hat trick led Hawks past Colorado – image courtesy of NHL

NEW YORK – Nearly a full slate of games was on the NHL schedule for Friday night. Teams were returning from the holiday break and one can only imagine that many of the players were performing for their once and future roster mates. The trade freeze ends this week and one can and should expect movement among contenders and those looking to improve their capabilities.

In Chicago, Patrick Sharp had a hat trick and the Blackhawks made it look all too easy as they drubbed Colorado, 7-2.

“It was a fun Christmas with my girls, and it’s kind of neat that my parents could see it,” Sharp said. “They sat in the airport 15 hours [Thursday] waiting for a flight to come to Chicago, with delays and stuff, so it’s special they could make it in for my birthday. I don’t usually score too many goals when my dad’s in the crowd. I don’t know why, but it was nice to get [three] tonight.”

Jonathan Toews had two goals and four points on the night and pimped Sharp for a position on Team Canada for the Olympics.

“I don’t think that is even an option,” Toews said of Sharp being left out. “He’s shown everything he can do throughout his career since the last Olympics and throughout this season. I don’t think there’s any holes in his game. We’ve always known in this locker room that he’s the type of player that deserves to play at that level and represent Team Canada, and he continues to prove it.”

In Glendale, the San Jose Sharks got a much needed win in a shootout victory over the Coyotes.

Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored in the shootout to get the Sharks their first road win in more than a month.

“It’s a coin-flip when you get in the shootout but it helps when you have a goalie like Nemo and if you get one or two he’s going to shut the door,” Couture said. “We’ve been struggling on the road but we found a way to win. Today was a different schedule for us. We’re hockey players and we’re used to flying the night before. It took us a little while to get going.”

David Moss had two goals for Phoenix in the loss.

“It was a very competitive game. We played a much better game than our last one,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “It was a fast-paced, entertaining game that came down to one shot in a shootout.”

In Calgary, Brian Burke cannot be happy with the result of Friday’s game between the Flames and Edmonton. The Oilers’ Devan Dubnyk pitched a 27-save shutout and Ryan Smyth scored twice to lead the Oilers to a 2-0 win over Calgary.

“That’s a key in any game is your goaltenders have to be probably your best player,” said Smyth, who added an empty-netter with Berra on the bench. “Both of them were. It was a battle tonight.

“We had some chances and we made the most of it with a couple of them. I thought we stuck to the system right through and obviously Dubnyk made some key saves at the right times.”

The win gave the Oilers back-to-back wins after beating the Jets before the break.

“It’s always fun to play here,” Dubnyk said. “Obviously I’ve lived a lot of years here. It’s always fun to win but this is my first shutout here. It’s something special.”

Burke was clear when he assumed the role of interim general manager earlier this month that he expected more from his Flames and Friday night neither he nor his head coach got that.

“The bottom line is we didn’t play a very good game,” Flames’ coach Bob Hartley said. “I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance to win. I didn’t think we had our usual jump, whether it’s the break or whatever reason, it was the same for the Oilers. They got that first goal and we tried to make a push, but I don’t think we were at our best tonight, so we didn’t really deserve to win.”

FRIDAY’S RESULTS

Boston 5, Ottawa 0

Columbus 2, New Jersey 1 (SO)

Washington 3, NY Rangers 2

Pittsburgh 4, Carolina 3 (OT)

Toronto 4, Buffalo 3 (SO)

Chicago 7, Colorado 2

Winnipeg 6, Minnesota 4

Dallas 4, Nashville 1

Edmonton 2, Calgary 0

San Jose 4, Phoenix 3 (SO)

 

SHARP CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY IN STYLE

Celebrating his 32nd birthday, Patrick Sharp (3-1—4) recorded his third career hat trick to power Chicago to its seventh victory in its past nine games (7-1-1). With the win, the Blackhawks (27-7-6, 60 points) leapfrogged the idle Ducks (27-7-5, 59 points) for the top spot in the NHL standings.

 

* Sharp is the first Blackhawk to record a hat trick on his birthday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player in the last 22 seasons to celebrate his birthday in the same fashion was the late Pavol Demitra, who scored three goals on his 28th birthday (Nov. 29, 2002) in a 7-2 St. Louis victory over Calgary. Only one other NHL player has earned a birthday hat trick at age 32 or older: Gilbert Perreault, who found the back of the net three times on his 33rd birthday (Nov. 13, 1983) in an 11-2 Buffalo win over Calgary.

 

* Sharp ranks ninth in the NHL with 21-19—40 in 40 games this season, including 10-6—16 in his past nine out outings. His four-point performance tied a career high, also achieved once earlier this season (Nov. 9: 0-4—4).

 

* Patrick Kane recorded an assist to extend his point streak to a career-long 13 games (7-15—22). He ranks second in the League with 22-28—50 in 40 games this season and now has recorded 50 or more points in each of his seven NHL seasons.

 

* Jonathan Toews (2-2—4) posted his third four-point game of the season (Oct. 29: 3-1—4, Nov. 21: 1-3—4). He ranks third on the team with 15-23—38 in 40 games, including 3-10—13 in his past nine contests.

 

* Duncan Keith collected a season-high three assists. He leads all defensemen with 33 helpers and ranks second among blueliners with 36 points in 40 games this season.

 

* The Blackhawks have scored five or more goals in 16 games this season, the most in the NHL. They also lead the League in goals for (148) and goals per game (3.70).

 

RASK, BRUINS STAY HOT AT HOME

Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for his League-leading fourth shutout of the season – and 20th of his career – to lead the Bruins to their eighth consecutive victory at home. Boston is 13-0-2 in its last 15 games at TD Garden; the franchise record for points in consecutive home games is 27, set during the 1970-71 season (26-0-1).

 

* Rask is the eighth goaltender in Bruins history to record 20 shutouts, joining Tiny Thompson (74), Frank Brimsek (35), Tim Thomas (31), Eddie Johnston (27), Gerry Cheevers (26), Bryon Dafoe (25) and Jim Henry (24). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other NHL teams with as many 20-shutout goaltenders are the Canadiens (9) and Rangers (8).

 

* Rask also ranks in the top five in the NHL this season in wins (t-2nd: 20), save percentage (3rd: .938) and goals-against average (4th: 1.81).

 

* Rask improved to 13-3-2 with a 1.48 goals-against average, .949 save percentage and three shutouts in 18 appearances this season at TD Garden. He is 7-5-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout in 12 road games.

 

* Reilly Smith (2-0—2) posted his third consecutive multi-point game, totaling 5-2—7 over that span. He ranks second on the Bruins with 14-16—30 in 38 games this season; he compiled 3-6—9 in 37 contests last season.

 

* With Smith’s two-goal performance, Boston now has had at least one player record multiple goals in seven consecutive games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the first time the Bruins have had a multi-goal scorer in seven straight contests since Dec. 10-26, 1929. The last NHL team to achieve that feat was the Flames in October 2007.

 

WILD FIRST PERIOD IN WINNIPEG

The Wild and Jets combined for seven first-period goals, with the lead changing three times in the opening 20 minutes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time in Wild history that the team combined for seven first-period goals. It was the third such occurrence in Jets/Thrashers history, with the most recent on Jan. 21, 2003, in an 8-4 victory over the Blues.

 

* The Wild set a team record by scoring two goals 10 seconds apart in the first period (by Justin Fontaine and Stephane Veilleux).

 

* Blake Wheeler (2-0—2) netted the game-winning goal midway through the third period, his second of the season. He has three multi-goal games in 2013-14, all of which have come in the past three weeks (also Dec. 12 and Dec. 14).

 

PENGUINS MARCH ON

James Neal (1-2—3) scored the winning goal at 1:03 of overtime to help the Penguins pick up their 13th victory in their past 15 games, including eight in their last nine.

 

* Marc-Andre Fleury became the ninth active goaltender to appear in 500 NHL games, all with the Penguins. He made 31 saves for his League-leading 22nd win of the season (33 GP).

 

* Sidney Crosby scored the team’s first goal and now has 21-34—55 in 40 games this season, tops in the NHL.

 

* Jussi Jokinen collected three assists and now has 5-4—9 in five games against the Hurricanes since they traded him to the Penguins April 3, including a hat trick Oct. 8.

 

ROOKIES KEEP ROLLING

Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta (16 saves) and Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer (38 saves) each recorded victories Friday. The duo is a combined 14-2-3 this season, with Raanta posting a 9-1-2 record and Grubauer at 5-1-1. Three other freshmen goaltenders also are off to hot starts: Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen (9-1-0), Los Angeles’ Martin Jones (8-1-0) and Vancouver’s Eddie Lack (6-2-0). Together, the five rookie netminders are 37-6-3 this season, including a 26-3-3 mark in December.

 

LOOSE PUCKS

Sharks captain Joe Thornton collected two assists; he leads the League with 37 helpers in 38 games this season . . . Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves for his second shutout of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked Edmonton’s first shutout ever in Calgary (regular season or playoffs, 120 previous visits) . . . Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (1-1—2) posted his 13th multi-point game of the season. He has 4-13—17 in his last eight outings . . . Avalanche forward Paul Stastny potted his 11th goal of the season while celebrating his 28th birthday . . . The Stars recorded their 14th consecutive victory when scoring three or more goals . . . Joffrey Lupul posted his fifth career deciding goal to lead the Maple Leafs to a victory in their fourth consecutive shootout (2-0-2) . . . Sharks forward Patrick Marleau netted the decisive goal in the tiebreaker to spoil the Coyotes’ celebration of the 10th anniversary of Jobing.com Arena . . . Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot scored his sixth goal of the season to extend his point streak to a career-long six games (3-3—6) . . . Oilers captain Andrew Ference played in his 800th NHL game . . . Avalanche forward Matt Duchene and Stars captain Jamie Benn both skated in their 300th career contest . . . Sabres forward John Scott scored his first goal since Nov. 15, 2009, while playing in his 200th NHL game . . . Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson recorded the shootout winner while appearing in his 100th career contest.

 

SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION

All Times Eastern

Boston @ Ottawa, 7:00 p.m., NHLN-US, CBC, NESN

Montreal @ Tampa Bay, 7:00 p.m., CBC, RDS, SUN

Detroit @ Florida, 7:00 p.m., FS-D, FS-F

New Jersey @ NY Islanders, 7:00 p.m., MSG PLUS 2, MSG PLUS

Chicago @ St. Louis, 8:00 p.m., WGN, FS-MW

Los Angeles @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., FS-W, FS-TN

Phoenix @ Anaheim, 8:00 p.m., KTVK, KDOC

Philadelphia @ Edmonton, 10:00 p.m., CBC, TCN-PH

 

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