NHL Morning Skate – Feb. 7, 2014 Leafs drop Lightning, 4-1

NEW YORK – Friday is the last night on the NHL schedule prior to the Sochi Olympics getting underway. Thursday had a number of important games as teams look to add two points to their totals ahead of the break.

Max Pacioretty

Max Pacioretty’s hat tricks leads Habs to win – image courtesy of NHL

In Montreal, the Canadiens buried the visiting Canucks with the help Max Pacioretty who netted a hat trick in the Habs’ 5-2 win.

“If we had lost that game by one goal, I’d have been kicking myself in the head,” said Pacioretty, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals.

Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo was the victim of the hat trick in the loss. But it might have been a bigger night for Pacioretty had he been able to convert two penalty shot opportunities.

“My only other penalty shot in the NHL is against Roberto Luongo, I tried the same move tonight and I definitely had him swimming with the fake shot, I thought I could beat him with a shot instead of a deke, but he’s such a big goalie and he leans forward, he took up so much of the net and it kind of threw me off,” Pacioretty said. “The second one, I think at that point I was just in my own head. I couldn’t believe that was even happening, I was pretty tired as well. If we’d lost the game I would be pretty upset right now, but obviously I can joke about it.”

The Canucks have been unable to buy a crucial goal at important times of their games less a win.

“The only way to get out of this is to work hard,” Luongo said. “If we feel sorry for ourselves, it’s only going to get worse.”http://

The only saving for the grace for Vancouver was the loss by the Winnipeg Jets to the Caps on Thursday.

“That’s the only thing we can do as a club right now is to stay positive,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “I thought the bench was alive and in between periods. They played hard. That won’t be a problem. That’s my job is to make sure we’re ready to play next game. That’s all you can do is continue to work at this, force some good bounces your way and stay with it.”

In Los Angeles, the Kings got goals from unlikely sources, the defense, and beat the Blue Jackets, 2-1, in OT.

Robyn Regehr got the game-winner midway through the extra session off a slapshot from the point.

“The guys gave me a hard time before the game about scoring that goal on these guys a couple of weeks ago in their building, and I just got a good opportunity tonight,” Regehr said.

With the rest of the offense seemingly on hiatus for the better part of the last month, it is up to secondary players and the defense to carry weight for the Kings.

“I think we’re going to look at it as a sprint to the playoffs,” Regehr said. “We would like to have more points, but the reality of the situation is we don’t. All we can do is now make the best of the situation we’re in, and for us, that’s building off this win and playing well, and really putting together some strong hockey in the last 22 or 23 games that we have until the end of the season.”

One of those who has disappeared off the goal sheet is Anze Kopitar; he had an assist on Jake Muzzin’s game-tying goal late in the third.http://

“We all know we were not very good in the first period,” Kopitar said. “It was arguably one of the worst periods we’ve played in a long, long time. I think it just showed the character of this team. We could have easily packed it in and looked forward to the Olympic break but we stuck with it, pretty much gutted it out. It’s a huge two points.”

In Uniondale, the Islanders got a strong effort from across the bench but yielded a go-ahead goal to the Calgary Flames’ David Jones with just over five minutes to play and lost 4-2.

Reto Berra stopped 28 shots from the Isles to earn the win and was sensational in keeping the Flames in the game until Jones’ heroics at the end.

“People are talking about it, I guess,” said Berra,. “Every time I play, I just want the two points, no matter how long it takes. A win is a win.

“In Switzerland it would’ve been more of an issue because there you get three points for winning in 60 minutes and only two after. Here, it’s all the same. Two points, however. But I have to say, it feels really good to have a win in 60 [minutes].” 

The Islanders have now lost six of seven while the Flames have won six of their last seven. The Isles were inept on the power play Thursday and went scoreless in five chances with the extra skater.

“We were unbelievable in PK,” said Berra, who benefitted from 26 blocked shots by his teammates. “I [didn’t have] many shots there. They had what, five power plays? But not many shots on the net. Our guys were blocking everything. It shows character; we have guys who’ll do everything for the win and for the Flames.”

New York needs a good win streak coming out of the Olympic break to get their aspirations on track, otherwise the season is lost. It is not for lack effort but the little things that are killing them.http://

“When you get pucks to the net, good things happen,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “That’s how they scored all their goals. There were no breakdowns. They got pucks to the net and we didn’t. We passed up a lot of chances.”

Calgary 4, NY Islanders 2
Edmonton 2, NY Rangers 1
Philadelphia 3, Colorado 1
Washington 4, Winnipeg 2
Montreal 5, Vancouver 2
Ottawa 3, Buffalo 2
Toronto 4, Tampa Bay 1
Detroit 3, Florida 1
St. Louis 3, Boston 2 (OT)
Minnesota 3, Nashville 2 (OT)
Los Angeles 2, Columbus 1 (OT)
Despite a pair of missed penalty shots in a 1:51 span of the second period, Max Pacioretty recorded his second hat trick of the season and the third of his career to power the Canadiens to their fourth victory in their last six games (4-1-1).
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pacioretty is the second player in NHL history to attempt two penalty shots in one game: Erik Cole scored on one of his two penalty shots against Martin Biron in a 5-3 victory by the Hurricanes over the Sabres Nov. 9, 2005.
* Pacioretty, who will represent the United States in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, recorded his first hat trick of the season in a 6-2 win over the Wild Nov. 19.
* Elias says that Pacioretty is the second Canadiens player since 2000 to register two hat tricks in one season: Mike Cammalleri had a pair of three-goal games for the team in 2009-10.
* Carey Price made 42 saves to outduel Team Canada teammate Roberto Luongo (24 saves). With the win, Price improved to 3-1-1 with a 1.20 goals-against average, .966 save percentage and two shutouts in his last five starts. He also improved to 5-1-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and one shutout in eight career appearances versus the Canucks.
Alex Ovechkin scored his League-leading 40th goal of the season, the game-winner, to help the Capitals pick up their fourth victory in their last seven games (4-2-1). It marks the fourth time in Ovechkin’s nine NHL seasons that he is the first player to reach 40 goals, following three consecutive seasons from 2007-08 through 2009-10.
* Ovechkin, who will represent Russia in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, has scored 40 or more goals six times in his NHL career, a franchise record. He reached that number in each of his first five seasons from 2005-06 through 2009-10.
* Ovechkin’s 40th goal came in his 54th game of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the only Capitals player to reach the milestone in fewer games, doing so on two occasions (51 games in 2009-10, 52 games in 2008-09).
* Ovechkin extended his point streak versus the Jets to eight games (9-6—15). He has 41-41—82 in 55 career games against the Jets/Thrashers franchise, his most goals and points versus any NHL opponent.
* The Capitals recorded their sixth consecutive victory over the Jets. They are 8-3-2 in their head-to-head matchups since the team relocated to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season.
Three players scored their first career overtime goals to lead their teams to victories Thursday:
* T.J. Oshie, who will represent the United States in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, scored 3:29 into overtime to power the Blues to their fifth win in their last seven games (5-1-1). The goal marked Oshie’s fourth game-winner of 2013-14, a career high.
* Nino Niederreiter, who will represent Switzerland in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, scored 2:16 into the extra session to lead the Wild to their fifth consecutive victory at Xcel Energy Center. Niederreiter has recorded 13 NHL goals (123 GP), but Thursday marked his first game-winner.
* Playing in his 1,002nd NHL game, Robyn Regehr scored 2:33 into overtime to help the Kings snap a four-game losing streak. The goal marked Regehr’s fourth career game-winner and first since Jan. 21, 2006.
The Senators surrendered a two-goal, third-period lead, but Milan Michalek (2-0—2) scored with 20.9 seconds remaining in regulation to lead the team to its second consecutive victory and fourth win in its past six outings (4-1-1).
* Michalek, who will represent the Czech Republic in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, registered his first multi-goal game since March 6, 2012, when he posted 3-1—4 in a 7-3 victory over the Lightning.
Gustav Nyquist scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period to power the Red Wings to their fifth win in their last eight games (5-1-2). Nyquist, who will represent Sweden in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, has nine goals in his past nine contests, matching his total from the first 63 games of his NHL career.
* Ben Scrivens made 35 saves to lead the Oilers to their fifth victory in their last six games. Scrivens has faced 30 or more shots in five of his six starts since joining the team, posting a 3-3-0 record with a 2.01 goals-against average, .948 save percentage and one shutout.
* Steve Mason recorded 38 saves to backstop the Flyers to their third straight win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mason is 10-3-2 with a 2.22 goals-against average in his last 16 games versus the Western Conference.
* Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves to help the Maple Leafs pick up their fourth victory in their last five games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bernier has 16 wins this season when recording 30 or more saves, tied for the most in the NHL with Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
MILESTONE TRACKERThe Rangers became the second team this week, and fifth in League history, to play their 6,000th regular-season game. The Blackhawks reached the milestone Monday, while the Red Wings will do so Saturday . . . Alex Pietrangelo recorded his 34th assist and 40th point of the season, becoming the first defenseman in Blues history and first overall since Dion Phaneuf (2005-06 through 2007-08) to earn 40 or more points in each of his first three full NHL seasons . . . Oilers forward Taylor Hall (0-1—1) posted his 200th NHL point . . . Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky collected his 100th career assist . . . Blues forward Brenden Morrow played in his 900th NHL game, becoming the 47th active player to reach the milestone . . . Sabres forward Matt D’Agostini and Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson both skated in their 300th career game . . . Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson (439-703—1,142 in 1,223 GP) scored his 13th goal of the season to tie Nicklas Lidstrom (264-878—1,142 in 1,564 GP) for the second-most points by a Swedish-born player in NHL history . . . Ken Hitchcock earned his 110th win behind the Blues’ bench, tying Scotty Bowman for fourth in franchise history . . . Kings forward Anze Kopitar recorded his 333rd career assist, matching Rob Blake for seventh in team history.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored his 19th goal of the season, giving him 3-3—6 over his last three games . . . Sabres forward Drew Stafford posted 1-1—2 and now has 6-3—9 in his past seven games . . . Capitals forward Troy Brouwer (2-0—2) recorded his first multi-goal game since April 20, 2013 . . . Senators captain Jason Spezza collected two assists for his 13th multi-point game of the season. The club improved to 10-0-3 when he posts two or more points, versus 16-21-8 when he fails to do so . . . Flames goaltender Reto Berra made 28 saves to earn his eighth career victory, but first in regulation-time . . . Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog recorded an assist to extend his point streak to eight games (3-7—10), matching a career high set earlier this season (Dec. 23-Jan. 8: 3-8—11) . . . Rookie teammate Nathan MacKinnon also collected an assist to stretch his point streak to a career-long seven games (4-6—10) . . . Rangers forwards Derick Brassard (3-4—7) and Mats Zuccarello (2-5—7) both pushed their point streaks to five games . . . The Blackhawks acquired forwards Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the Islanders in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft . . . ICYMI: The Flyers wore special patches and hats during pregame warm-ups in honor of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

All Times Eastern
Edmonton @ New Jersey, 7:00 p.m., SNET-W, MSG PLUS
NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m., NHLN-US, RDS, MSG 2, ROOT
Florida @ Carolina, 7:00 p.m., FS-F, FS-CR
Chicago @ Phoenix, 9:00 p.m., CSN-CH, FS-A
Columbus @ San Jose, 10:30 p.m., NHLN-CA, FS-O, CSN-CA
Thirteen members of the United States’ 1980 “Miracle on Ice” men’s hockey team will take part in an Olympic send-off and ceremonial puck drop prior to the Coyotes-Blackhawks game at Jobing.com Arena. Among the players confirmed for the event are former Team USA captain Mike Eruzione and teammates Neal Broten, John Harrington, Steve Janaszak, Rob McClanahan, Ken Morrow, Mike Ramsey, Buzz Schneider, Dave Silk, Eric Strobel, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota and Mark Wells.

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