NHL Morning Skate – Jan. 5, 2014 Wild bag win over Caps, 5-3, at home

NEW YORK – Twelve games were featured in the NHL slate on Saturday. A number of surprises were seen including the Sabres win over the New Jersey Devils.

Ryan Miller made 21 saves on the night for win. Cory Schneider took the loss in stopping 20 of 22 shots on goal.

“Ryan, quietly, I thought he was sensational again,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “A couple of those saves, I think Henrique tipped the puck on top of the circle, not too many goaltenders would be able to read that and see that. He made a great save that kept us in the game, and our power play was clicking here tonight.”

Matt D’Agostini had the game winner midway through the third period when he poked in a rebound past Schneider.

“I felt like I was due for the last month or so,” said D’Agostini, who played 13 games for the Devils during the 2012-13 season. “That’s hockey sometimes. Sometimes they’ll fall for you and sometimes you’ve got to wait and work for them. It was good to contribute and help the team win.”

The Sabres, who once could not buy a point on home ice are now 6-0-1 in their last seven.

The Sabres extended their home point streak to seven games (6-0-1).

“We’ve got to learn to translate that on the road,” D’Agostini said. “It’s a long season, and a lot of those hard-fought games on the road we’re just coming up short. I think we need to get better on the road, obviously, but taking care of business at home here is one thing. We’ve got a couple more games at home we need to take advantage of.”

The Devils are still looking for answers to their up and down season.

“I thought we stuck with it,” New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to finish. Henrique had a breakaway, [Mike] Sislo had a breakaway, we had some 2-on-1 opportunities. We’ve got to cash in.”

Also in the up and down swing again are the New York Rangers. Having been thoroughly embarrassed by the drubbing they took in Pittsburgh Friday, one might well have thought they would succumb Saturday to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. But that was not the case. In fact, the Rangers put a whipping to the Leafs in a 7-1 mulching.

Goalie Cam Talbot got the win and is now 9-3-0 on the season.

“It was huge for us,” Talbot said of the bounce-back win. “We had to finish strong. We came out flying tonight. The guys got the first goal and never looked back. We played sound defensively as well. Tonight we took care of both ends [of the ice], and that’s why we got the result we did.”

Talbot has been a steady presence in the Rangers’ net and the club seems to have more confidence in his game than Henrik Lundqvist’s at this point.

“The guys played great in front of me,” he said after winning for the ninth time in 12 decisions. “Scoring the first goal and getting the lead was important.”

The Rangers dominated this one from the opening face-off and led 18-7 in shots through 20 minutes.

“I was surprised,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. “I expected a lot more from this group.”

New York also had a 2-0 lead after the first.

“I think you might start out flat for a period, but that you’d be able to get your legs back under you, get your game going and be more competitive,” Carlyle said when asked if his team came out with any Winter Classic hangover. “That third goal; that was the hockey game.”

In Los Angeles, Roberto Luongo returned to the Canucks net on the road and was staked to an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Ryan Kesler in the first.

Luongo made that stand until the Kings rallied with two goals in the third.

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Quick stopped 27 in win over Canucks – image courtesy of NHL

The game was a return for Jonathan Quick to the Kings net and he looked fresh in his first start since sustaining a groin injury.

“When I said I was ready, that meant I was ready to do it,” Quick said. “You don’t come in feeling 80 percent. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have sat out the first two months. I felt 100 percent. If it looked like I was struggling out there, I made a wrong decision.”

Quick had 27 saves for the win.

After the Canucks were unable to score on a power play in the second, coach John Tortorella thought the game changed at that point with the Kings gaining life and coming at the Vancouver zone in waves.

“In our division we are going to have to learn to battle hard, and it starts with our forwards, as far as the forecheck,” Tortorella said. “Our D was under siege all night ling. If we are going to compete in our division in the second half of this year, we need to be more consistent.”

Jeff Carter got the game-winner at 12:05 of the third.

“It was a quick play,” Luongo said. “Carter released it quick. It went through our d-man. But you’ve got to give him credit. It’s a good shot. But I would like to maybe get a foot there and maybe get a piece of that. Sometimes you’ve got to give the other player credit as well for a good shot.”

SATURDAY’S RESULTS
Boston 4, Winnipeg 1
Colorado 4, San Jose 3
Buffalo 2, New Jersey 1
NY Rangers 7, Toronto 1
Ottawa 4, Montreal 3 (OT)
Florida 5, Nashville 4 (SO)
Carolina 3, NY Islanders 2
St. Louis 6, Columbus 2
Detroit 5, Dallas 1
Minnesota 5, Washington 3
Philadelphia 5, Phoenix 3
Los Angeles 3, Vancouver 1

U.S. OLYMPIC NETMINDERS SHINE FOLLOWING ROSTER ANNOUNCEMENT
As most of the nations participating in the men’s ice hockey competition at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games prepare to select their rosters by the Jan. 7 deadline, each of the three goaltenders named to the United States team last Wednesday delivered a standout performance last night:

* Jimmy Howard stopped 44 of 45 shots as the Detroit Red Wings rebounded from their shootout loss in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic with a 5-1 win in Dallas. “We’ve been waiting for Jimmy to be Jimmy for us all year long and tonight he was back to being what we expect,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. “I thought he had a real bounce-back game after the (Dec. 30) Nashville game … and here tonight he was big and square and soft and the things he has always been.”

* Ryan Miller improved to 5-1-1 in his last seven starts as the Buffalo Sabres posted a 2-1 win over New Jersey. In 11 appearances since U.S. Thanksgiving, Miller is 7-3-1 with a .943 save percentage and a 1.87 goals against average. “Ryan, quietly, I thought he was sensational again,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “A couple of those saves, I think (Adam) Henrique tipped the puck on top of the circle, not too many goaltenders would be able to read that and see that. He made a great save that kept us in the game.”

* Jonathan Quick made 27 saves in his first game since Nov. 12 and the Los Angeles Kings rallied with three third-period goals in a 3-1 win against Vancouver. “When I said I was ready, that meant I was ready to do it,” said Quick, who missed 24 games with a lower body injury. “You don’t come in feeling 80 percent. If that was the case, I wouldn’t have sat out the first two months. I felt 100 percent. If it looked like I was struggling out there, I made a wrong decision.”

WILD NIGHT FOR SUTER
Defenseman Ryan Suter scored his first career hat trick to spur a Wild rally as the team overcame a two-goal first period deficit for a 5-3 win against the Capitals. Suter is the first defenseman in franchise history to record a hat trick and the first in the League to do so since Montreal’s P.K. Subban — against Minnesota — on Mar. 20, 2011.

* Minnesota was outshot 30-11 but made its shots count; Suter scored on his only three shots on goal.

* Suter gave Minnesota its first lead of the game with two goals in 42 seconds. The Elias Sports Bureau says Suter is the first defenseman in franchise history to score twice in less than one minute.

* His hat trick was the first by a Wild player since Jan. 16, 2010 (Guillaume Latendresse at Phoenix) and the team’s first at Xcel Energy Center since Nov. 27, 2009 (Chuck Kobasew versus Colorado).

* Suter played a total of 31:06, registering at least 30 minutes of ice time for the 22nd time this season and the eighth time in his past 11 games. He now has points in four straight games (5-2–7) and is tied for second on the team in scoring (5-24–29).

KRUG MAKING HIS NAME WITH B’S
Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug tallied his ninth and 10th goals of the season and added an assist in Boston’s 4-1 win over Winnipeg. Krug leads all rookie defenseman in scoring and ranks third (tie) among all first-year players with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists).

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Krug is third rookie defenseman since 1992-93 to reach the 10-goal mark in 42 games or fewer. Dion Phaneuf scored his 10th goal in his 42nd game with Calgary in 2005-06 and Vladimir Malakhov accomplished the feat in 38 games with the New York Islanders in 1992-93.

* The Elias Sports Bureau also says that Krug is the fourth Bruins rookie defenseman in the last 50 years to score at least 10 goals in a season, joining Greg Hawgood (16 in 1988-89), Ray Bourque (17 in 1979-80) and Bobby Orr (13 in 1966-67).

* Krug finished with a career-high three points, becoming the first Bruins rookie blueliner to tally three points in a game since Jonathan Girard on Feb. 10, 2001 (2-1–3).

BLUES HIT SEASON MIDPOINT IN RECORD FORM
The Blues scored six unanswered goals to erase a two-goal, first-period deficit en route to a 6-2 win against the Blue Jackets. At 29-7-5 (63 points), the Blues have established their best 41-game record in franchise history.

* St. Louis won by three or more goals for the 14th time this season, overtaking Chicago for the League lead in that category.

* The Blues improved to 13-2-1 versus Eastern Conference opponents this season, including an 8-0-0 mark at home.

* Jaden Schwartz scored to extend his career-high point streak to eight games (7-3–10). He is one of four players with multiple point streaks of seven or more games this season (also Nov. 19 – Dec. 2), joining San Jose’s Joe Thornton, Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.

* Blues goalie Brian Elliott won his 13th consecutive home decision (dating to last season), adding to his franchise record. Columbus is one of four teams yet to earn a regulation win against Elliott (also Buffalo, Minnesota and Ottawa), as he improved to 6-0-1 in his career versus the Blue Jackets.

RANGERS DOMINANT IN TORONTO
Dominic Moore recorded his eighth career two-goal game as the Rangers outshot the Maple Leafs 50-26 in a 7-1 win in Toronto. New York improved to 12-3-2 in their past 17 games versus their Original Six rival, including a 7-1-1 mark on the road.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers scored at least seven goals in Toronto for the sixth time in their history and the first time at Air Canada Centre. The team’s most recent showing with seven or more goals in Toronto was an 8-2 win at Maple Leaf Gardens on Mar. 14, 1990.

* The Elias Sports Bureau also says the Rangers’ 50 shots are their most in Toronto in the past 40 seasons and their most overall against the Maple Leafs since a 51-shot performance on Feb. 17, 1989 in New York. Saturday marked the first time since Feb. 15, 2003 that the Rangers recorded at least 50 shots in a road game (52 in a 5-4 loss at Buffalo).

* The Rangers’ seven goals mark a season high and their six-goal margin of victory is the team’s widest since a 7-0 win against Philadelphia on Mar. 6, 2011.

* Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot made 25 saves, improving to 9-3-0 on the season. He has held opponents to two goals or fewer in 10 of his 12 career starts.

AVS’ QUICK STRIKES SECURE WIN
Nathan MacKinnon gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes and Colorado scored three goals in 66 seconds in the middle frame as they improved to 3-0-1 on their current seven-game homestand. The 18-year-old MacKinnon’s second tally of the night (12th of the season), proved to be the game-winner and leapfrogged him past San Jose’s Tomas Hertl (15-10–25) for the rookie scoring lead (12-14–26).

* At 26-11-4 (56 points) through 41 games, the Avalanche have established the franchise’s second-best record at the halfway mark of an 82-game season, second only to a record of 26-8-7 (59 points) during their Stanley Cup-winning 2000-01 campaign.

* Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves, including 11 in the third period after the Sharks made it a one-goal game, improving to 6-0-4 in his past 10 starts. His 10 consecutive starts without a regulation loss are a single-season best and match the longest such stretch of his career (9-0-1 from Dec. 13, 2008 to Oct. 29, 2009).

MACARTHUR THE HERO
The Senators held a two-goal lead after the opening period but Clarke MacArthur’s goal 58 seconds into overtime was the winner as Ottawa escaped a late Montreal charge for its fourth consecutive win. MacArthur ranks second on the team with 14 goals and his four game-winners ties him with Zack Smith for the club lead.

* MacArthur has scored three regular-season overtime goals in his NHL career and he’s scored them for three different teams: Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa. (Elias Sports Bureau).

LOOSE PUCKS
Los Angeles’ Darryl Sutter coached his 1,000th NHL game, improving to 487-362-151… Claude Julien coached his 500th game behind the Boston bench since joining the team, bolstering his record to 284-158-58… Bruins forward Justin Florek (drafted 135th overall in 2010) played his first NHL game… Ken Hitchcock won his 101st game behind the Blues bench (101-39-18), passing Red Berenson into sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list. Hitchcock ranks eighth on the NHL’s all-time list with 634 career wins, 14 behind seventh-place Ron Wilson… Coyotes captain Shane Doan played 18:38 in his first game since Dec. 4 after missing 12 games with Rocky Mountain Fever, a tick-borne illness… Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski made his season debut, playing 15:54 while recording one shot and a +3 rating in his first game since Mar. 16… Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, returning from injury that had sidelined him for three games, stopped a season-high 46 shots in taking the loss at Los Angeles… Matt D’Agostini’s first goal as a Sabre was the game-winner as Buffalo won its fifth consecutive home game for the first time since a five-game streak from Feb. 19 to Mar. 12, 2012. The Sabres are 6-0-1 in their past seven games at First Niagara Center. Forward Zenon Konopka, who was claimed off waivers Friday, made his Sabres debut despite a series of weather-related travel delays…. The Flyers scored three goals in the final frame to erase a 3-2 deficit and take over second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-3 victory in Phoenix… San Jose’s Joe Thornton recorded his League-leading 42nd assist, extending his point streak to seven games (0-11–11). Patrick Marleau finished with three points, giving him 2-3–5 in his past three games… Washington’s Alex Ovechkin recorded his 376th career assist to pass Dale Hunter and take sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time list… Washington’s Marcus Johansson and Mike Green scored two goals in a span of 13 seconds in the first period… Washington is the only team yet to win at Xcel Energy Center (0-6-1)… Ottawa forward Mark Stone scored his first NHL goal/point in his sixth career game, the first of two Senators goals in 14 seconds (Erik Condra tallied the other)… Jordan Staal and Brett Sutter scored 57 seconds apart to lift the Hurricanes to their sixth straight win over the Islanders… the Islanders’ Thomas Vanek (1-1–2) matched his career-high with points in his eighth consecutive game (5-7–12)… Florida rookie Aleksander Barkov recorded two assists, extending his point streak to five games (1-5–6) to match the longest by a Panther this season… Predators forward Mike Fisher scored to extend his point streak to four games (4-5–9)… Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg scored the team’s first and last goals, giving him 11-33–44 in 32 career games versus the Stars and extending his overall point streak to four games (3-3–6)… the Ducks signed forward Andrew Cogliano to a four-year contract extension through the 2017-18 season… the Rangers acquired forward Daniel Carcillo from the Kings for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

SNEAK PEEK AT SUNDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Winnipeg @ Pittsburgh, 1:00 p.m., TSN-JETS, ROOT
Nashville @ Carolina, 7:00 p.m., FS-TN, FS-CR
San Jose @ Chicago, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, WGN
Tampa Bay @ Edmonton, 8:00 p.m., RDS2, SUN, SNET-W
Vancouver @ Anaheim, 8:00 p.m., SNET-P, PRIME

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