Wednesday marks the last night of NHL action before the All-Star break, so set your lineup(s) and then take a breather. Maybe watch a little bit of 3-on-3 hockey with some big name players and wonder how fun a fantasy draft could have been.
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DUCKS 6, BRUINS 2
-- Anaheim won its third consecutive game, and the Ducks have been trending up in general (including a 7-3-0 record in their last 10 games). It's sobering to realize that they're still outside of the playoff eight even after getting on a roll, although the gap is small when you consider how vulnerable the Arizona Coyotes appear to be.
-- Maybe Boston phoned this one in, but they can't make that a habit, as the gap between the Bruins and their bubble competitors is quite small.
-- Corey Perry hasn't been totally immune to the Ducks' larger troubles, but he managed to hit the 20-goal mark again this season, and has a great chance to hit 30+ for three straight campaigns (five in a row if you throw out the lockout-shortened season, when he had 15 goals in 44 games).
-- David Perron is making an immediate impact in Anaheim, even if he isn't getting a ton of minutes. With a goal and an assist on Tuesday, he now has five points in four games with the Ducks. He's gotten at least one in every contest with his new team.
-- Shawn Horcoff received a 20-game suspension for PEDS. It’s a good reminder to hit up the Rotoworld injury/suspensions page to stay up to date on these issues, as the Dose may not always go over them.
PENGUINS 2, DEVILS 0
-- Big win for Pittsburgh, as they took New Jersey's second wild card spot with this win (by way of holding a couple games in hand with the same 55 standings points).
-- Sidney Crosby keeps sizzling along, scoring his 17th goal of the season. Phil Kessel's been looking feisty lately in his own right, nabbing his 15th tally. The Penguins are a scary team if they can get those two lines humming.
-- Marc-Andre Fleury won his 19th game of the season by generating a 25-save shutout, making a spectacular stop or two. That's his fourth SO of the season and the second from his four-game winning streak.
HURRICANES 5, BLACKHAWKS 0
-- Yes, I've stated before that Carolina's sneaky-good (the Hurricanes are often highly ranked based on various advanced stat rubrics), but I think most would agree that this was still unexpected.
It was over quick, too, with Carolina storming to a 3-0 first period lead on a 16-6 SOG edge, chasing Corey Crawford in the process.
The night wasn't a whole lot better for Scott Darling, who also surrendered two tallies.
-- Gotta admit, I almost forgot John-Michael Liles was still a thing ... like, in North America, at least. He looked good here, though, including scoring the 3-0 goal, his fifth tally of 2015-16.
-- Eddie Lack moved to a .500 record (9-9-3) by stopping all 26 shots. Both of his shutouts in 2015-16 came during this stretch where he's gone 3-1-0, allowing six goals in that span.
BLUE JACKETS 5, CANADIENS 2
-- Yikes, yikes, yikes. A P.K. Subban shot hit Max Pacioretty, hurting him to an unknown degree (beyond Patches missing the rest of the game). Obviously, keep an eye out for more on that very important player's condition.
-- Cam Atkinson is on a doggone roll. (Bows.)
Anyway, he generated a goal and an assist in this one, giving him five points during this back-to-back, home-and-home set between Columbus and Montreal.
(Yes, that means the Blue Jackets won both games. Can I get another YIKES?)
-- Brandon Dubinsky's there with him, also grabbing five points during the past two games. Dubinsky gets under peoples' skin, as Subban can attest.
SABRES 3, SENATORS 2
-- You know how young players sometimes wear out, which is understandable since they're often not used to 82-game schedules?
I wonder if Jack Eichel may end stronger than he began because people of all ages are a little more tired, yet his reach, power and creativity keep him in many plays.
Who knows, but he's feeling it lately. He scored two goals on Tuesday, including the GWG, and that came after generating two helpers on Monday. He now has a whopping seven points in his last five games, only failing to score once during that run.
Karlsson was especially impressive, scoring his 11th goal of the season on a night where he was +1 with nine SOG in 31:46 TOI (over 11 minutes more than Ryan's 20:28 TOI).
-- Huzzah, Robin Lehner finally won a game, and he managed to scorn his former employers in the process. Naturally, he had a strong night of work, too, stopping 34 out of 36 shots.
PANTHERS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 1
-- Roberto Luongo won his 423rd regular season game, tying him with Tony Esposito for seventh all-time. This really reminds you of the fact that he's not just having a strong season with Florida, but he's also enjoying a fantastic (probably Hall-of-Fame-worthy) career.
-- Aleksander Barkov helped Florida win this one as the ink is still drying* on his beefy contract extension. Luongo nabbed his second assist of the season on that play, by the way.
* - OK, it's probably been dry for a long time.
JETS 5, COYOTES 2
-- The run of center-ice goals continued, with Dustin Byfuglien being the lucky winner this time around. Byfuglien also scored a SHG, giving him 14 tallies on the season (and his assist pushes his overall point total to 29).
He's been really quiet offensively since late December, to the point that I wonder if he's one of those guys who don't handle contract year issues/trade rumors/general uncertainty very well.
I'll say this: if he's moved to a contender, he could be one of those rare guys who really CAN be pivotal.
His $5.25 million cap hit makes him reasonably easy to move, especially with some retention, too.
-- Nikolaj Ehlers generated the first hat trick of his NHL career, doing so on four SOG and just 15:40 TOI. He's slipped since a promising start to the season - the Dose was pretty smitten with him - but the talent's there.
Blake Wheeler also had a fantastic night, generating three assists. He's one of the NHL's truly underrated scorers.
-- Louis Domingue was trotted out on back-to-back nights but had a rough going. I don't mind the Coyotes' mindset there, though.
PREDATORS 2, CANUCKS 1
-- I bet Pekka Rinne wishes the All-Star break came a little later.
He's finally showing signs of life (albeit against relatively weak competition) for the first time in a long time during a dire season, generating a three-game winning streak in which he's allowed a single goal each time.
His overall numbers still sag, but this has to be heartening for a team that's not so far outside of the playoff mix.
-- Craig Smith generated five of the Predators' paltry 19 SOG in this one, scoring a goal. He's really slipped this season, and while he can still push his 20+ goal streak to three straight seasons, his five assists give him 16 points, well short of the 44-point pace from last season and 52-point level from his career-best work in 2013-14.
-- James Neal scored the GWG will less than five minutes remaining in the third period. It's his second game-winner of the season, and his 18th goal overall.
SHARKS 6, AVALANCHE 1
-- It's always nice when a player hits a milestone "his way."
Joe Thornton hit the 1,300 point mark in a very Jumbo Joe fashion. He generated two pretty assists to get there, and naturally he didn't even register a SOG.
With 931 career assists, he may hit 1,000 helpers by the end of 2016-17.
Circling back to the present, Thornton is on an outstanding run of 10 straight games with at least one point. In fact, he's scored a point in all but one game since Dec. 15, and he generated 14 PIM in that Jan. 7 contest in which he failed to score.
-- This marks a 10-game point streak for the Sharks, who are now pretty darn comfortable in second place in the Pacific.
If the 2/3 series ends up being Sharks - Ducks, it could be a match between two very much resurgent teams.