NHL Morning Skate – Dec. 30, 2013 Leafs upend Hurricanes 5-2

NEW YORK – In Tampa on Sunday, the Lightning hosted struggling New York. The Rangers have had trouble holding the 500 mark all season never mind getting over the mark.

On Sunday night, Henrik Lundqvist stepped back into the crease for New York and stopped 37 shots en route to a surprising 4-3 win for New York.

“Lundqvist played a real strong game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “He gave us a chance to win, especially in the third when they had a real strong push and they were tough to handle. He had some huge saves to make and he did.”

Mats Zuccarello continued his hot play with a goal and two assists.

Benoit Pouliot scored a goal, his seventh of the year. It was also his seventh straight game with at least a point.

“Both those guys were having a real hard time with their game,” Vigneault said of Pouliot and Zuccarello. “Both sat out, both didn’t complain to the world about being sat out. What they did was they rolled their sleeves and they got to work and even though I thought they were both working real hard, they both analyzed their game and found a way to get back on track and both players are very useful players to our team right now.”

New York also got its much-maligned power play to click with three markers on the night.

“We’ve been moving the puck around and getting chances and tonight it was the difference and the power play did that,” Rangers center Brad Richards said. “We needed the two points.”

In Calgary, the visiting Canucks and Eddie Lack shutout the Flames 2-0.

Jannik Hansen

Jannik Hansen got game-winner in first to lead Canucks – image courtesy of NHL

Jannik Hansen scored late in the opening frame and Lack made 18 saves to earn the victory.

It was Vancouver’s first game in more than a week.

“Of course you want to get back at it,” Hansen said of the long break. “The game is a little different than we’re used to when you’re playing every other night. We got a long break, but the points are just as important as they are in late March and early April and these points are going to stick with us to the end.

“If you look at the standings, it’s extremely tight. If you’re not stringing wins together you’re not going anywhere. We’ve played a tremendous December and we’re still fourth in our division. It takes a lot of wins and it takes a team effort to get them on a nightly basis.”

In San Jose, the Sharks managed something ten previous teams were unable to accomplish. San Jose hung a 3-1 defeat on the visiting Anaheim Ducks, their first loss after a 10-game winning streak.

“A huge two games,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. “We kind of spoke about that before the game. These four points are huge. They’re kind of running away with our division right now and tonight we kind of grabbed them and brought them back a little bit. Tuesday’s going to be another huge game against them so we’ll be ready. But to get this one at home is huge.”

While the loss was a tough one to a division rival, the Ducks were still proud of their accomplishment.

“It’s pretty special,” Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said of the streak. “It’s something that doesn’t happen often. You’re playing against the best players in the world, so to be able to do that as a group, you should be proud of. You’re going to lose eventually. It can’t go on forever, but we can’t be satisfied with that. And losing this one, this was a big game for us.

“I think we came out a little bit flat, which is unfortunate. You’re happy with the streak, but now we’ve lost one in a row so it’s time to kind of take a reality check and get ready for the next one.”

SUNDAY’S RESULTS
Buffalo 2, Washington 1 (SO)
Florida 4, Montreal 1
Pittsburgh 5, Columbus 3
St. Louis 3, Dallas 2 (OT)
Toronto 5, Carolina 2
NY Rangers 4, Tampa Bay 3
Vancouver 2, Calgary 0
NY Islanders 5, Minnesota 4
Winnipeg 2, Colorado 1 (OT)
San Jose 3, Anaheim 1
 
SHARKS HALT DUCKS’ STREAK(S)
The Sharks scored the opening three goals to halt the Ducks’ franchise-record winning streak at 10 games and point streak at 13 games (11-0-2). With the victory, San Jose recorded its fourth consecutive win while improving to 9-0-1 in its past 10 at SAP Center.
 
* Brent Burns posted 1-1—2, his third consecutive multi-point game (3-4—7). He had 0-2—2 in his prior 11 contests.
 
* Burns opened the scoring at 1:17 of the first period, the 10th time this season the Sharks have scored in the first two minutes of a game.
 
* Logan Couture notched the winning goal to snap an 11-game scoring drought. The goal marked the 100th of his NHL career (271 GP).
 
* At 32 years, 231 days, Bracken Kearns became the oldest player in Sharks history to score his first NHL goal. Jay Leach held the previous record at 30 years, 190 days.
 
NEAL’S CAREER NIGHT POWERS PENGUINS
James Neal (3-2—5) recorded his fourth career hat trick and first five-point game to lead the Penguins to their 14th victory in their past 16 contests and ninth in their last 10.
 
* Neal is the second player this season to register at least five points in a game in which he factored on all of his team’s goals. The other was by Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom (1-4—5) in a 6-5 shootout victory over the Lightning on Dec. 10.
 
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Neal is the first Penguin to accomplish that feat since Jan. 19, 2010, when Sidney Crosby posted 2-4—6 in a 6-4 win over the Islanders.
 
* Neal has 4-4—8 in his last two games and 13-14—27 in past 15 outings dating to Nov. 20.
 
* Crosby and Chris Kunitz each added 1-2—3. Crosby leads the NHL this season with 22-36—58 in 41 games, while Kunitz is tied for sixth with 21-21—42 in 41 outings.
 
BLUES STAY HOT ON THE ROAD
Kevin Shattenkirk scored the deciding goal for the second consecutive day when he found the back of the net with 10.4 seconds remaining in overtime, helping the Blues improve to 4-0-2 in their last six road games, their longest road point streak since Nov. 19-Dec. 17, 2011 (3-0-3).
 
* The Blues earned their third consecutive victory over the Stars and seventh in their last eight meetings.
 
* The Blues also improved to 12-0-1 this season versus the Central Division, the best intra-division record in the NHL.
 
* Shattenkirk also scored the deciding goal in a 6-5 shootout victory over the Blackhawks on Saturday. He has three game-winning goals this season, tied for the most among NHL defensemen, and 3-3—6 during a six-game point streak.
 
* Jaden Schwartz opened the scoring to extend his goal/point streak to a career-long five games (5-1—6). He has registered at least one point in 14 of his last 17 games, totaling 10-8—18 in that span.
 
* Brian Elliott made 28 saves to improve to 9-1-2 with a 2.04 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and two shutouts in 15 appearances this season.
 
WITH A SECOND TO SPARE
Blake Wheeler scored with 1.7 seconds left in overtime to propel the Jets to consecutive wins for the first time since Nov. 25-27.
 
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the goal marked the latest overtime winner in Jets/Thrashers history. Marc Savard held the previous record, scoring with five seconds left in the extra frame in a 3-2 victory over the Devils on Dec. 15, 2005.
 
* Al Montoya tied a season-high with 33 saves. He is 7-2-1, including five consecutive victories, with a 2.02 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and one shutout in 12 appearances this season.
 
LACK STOPS THEM ALL
Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack made 18 saves to record his second shutout of the season and fifth consecutive victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the third rookie goaltender in Vancouver history to post two or more shutouts in one season, joining Glen Hanlon (3 in 1978-79) and Ken Lockett (2 in 1974-75).
 
Lack has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his 11 appearances since making his NHL debut on Oct. 6. He is 7-2-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .933 save percentage this season.
 
MAPLE LEAFS ROLL INTO WINTER CLASSIC
Phil Kessel scored twice and Tyler Bozak collected three assists to power the Maple Leafs to a victory in their final game before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Toronto has recorded at least one point in five consecutive games (3-0-2), its longest point streak since April 6-15 (4-0-1).
 
LOOSE PUCKS
Ryan Miller made a career-high 49 saves and stopped all six shootout attempts to lead the Sabres to their fourth consecutive victory at First Niagara Center and fifth win in their past six home games (5-0-1) . . . Benoit Pouliot scored the game-winning goal to extend his career-long point streak to seven games (4-3—7) and help the Rangers improve to 13-4-4 in their last 21 contests versus the Lightning . . . Kyle Okposo posted 2-1—3, including the game-winning goal, to stretch his point streak to six games (4-4—8) and lead the Islanders back from an early three-goal deficit. Thomas Vanek added two assists to extend his point streak to five games (3-4—7) . . . Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen made 21 saves to improve to 8-1-0 in 10 career games versus the Canadiens . . . Wild captain Mikko Koivu posted his 300th career assist . . . Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger (1-0—1) recorded his 100th NHL point . . . Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky played in his 500th career game . . . Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau skated in his 400th NHL game . . . Rangers defenseman Conor Allen made his NHL debut.
 
SNEAK PEEK AT MONDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Washington @ Ottawa, 7:30 p.m., RDS, CSN-DC+, SNET-E
Los Angeles @ Chicago, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2, CSN-CH
Detroit @ Nashville, 8:00 p.m., FS-D, FS-TN
Philadelphia @ Vancouver, 10:00 p.m., CSN-PH, SNET-P

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