Your fearful author is mere hours away from beginning a journey that will (hopefully smoothly) result in an arrival in Texas in the morning, so forgive this brief prelude. If you need bribing, try on the near 2,000 words of hockey fun that awaits.
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AVALANCHE 3, BLACKHAWKS 0
-- So it ends.
Patrick Kane’s point streak was halted at 26 games. For some, that’s the sad end to a glorious run. To others, it’s a huge relief to see this story die (or mostly die, as people will note if he starts a new pointless streak or a new point streak the next time Chicago plays).
Honestly, it’s nice just to gain some freedom in being able to talk about something else.
There were times when the Blackhawks were really forcing the puck Kane’s way, so maybe his teammates might be - deep down - a little relieved. They can go back to spreading the passes around a little more organically, which still means plenty of chances for Kane.
-- Shutting out Kane & Co. adjusts the spotlight to Semyon Varlamov, who's been outright outstanding for the past month or so. Awkward that it's a guy with ugly headlines stopping another guy with ugly headlines, but what can you do?
LIGHTNING 5, MAPLE LEAFS 4 (OT)
-- Despite nine combined goals between these teams, Steven Stamkos failed to even score a point in this one, also going -1. Jeez Steve, learn how to earn everyone’s attention.
-- The game marked the return of Jonathan Bernier to the Leafs lineup after a stint in the AHL. It, uh, did not go too well. He’s now 0-8-2 in 2015-16, which feels almost unthinkable. He’s probably lucky that he has one more year at a $4.15 million cap hit, as he has some work to do to regain even a decent standing around the league.
RANGERS 4, OILERS 2
-- The New York Rangers stopped the Oilers impressive six-game winning streak, and at the same time snapped their own three-game losing skid.
-- Reuniting Rick Nash with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard worked out well for the Rangers. Nash and Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist, with Nash getting the GWG. No. 61 can be a lot of fun to watch when he’s really gathering speed and exerting his will.
-- Dylan McIlrath scored his first NHL goal.
-- Just 41 SOG combined between these two teams. Understandable for Edmonton as the Oil played on Monday, but you’d expect a little more from the Rangers.
PANTHERS 5, ISLANDERS 1
-- Leading goal scorer Jaromir Jagr was out with the flu, but that didn't stop the Florida Panthers from beating the Islanders. This stands as yet another reminder that we’re around that time of year when there might be late scratches for sickness, so try to take a peek at Rotoworld and Twitter to see if there are any surprise absences.
-- Aleksander Barkov didn’t exactly fester without Jagr on Tuesday, as the promising forward scored a goal and two assists.
-- Roberto Luongo made 33 saves for Florida, at times saving everyone’s bacon. Not bad for a guy who rocks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas.
-- Jaroslav Halak had been great as of late with a 4-0-2 record in his last six games. The loss was his first since November 12th.
DEVILS 2, SABRES 0
-- Michael Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak continue to get it done for the Devils. It is hard to believe that Stempniak was signed on a tryout, though I truly cannot imagine things working this well under just about any other circumstances.
-- Speaking of surprisingly productive New Jersey top scorers, Adam Henrique returned to the Devils lineup and managed to generate an assist.
-- Cory Schneider bounced back from a rough outing on Sunday to score a 25-save shutout.
That's his second goose egg of 2015-16 while he improved his overall record to 14-8-4. Still surprising to see things work out pretty well for him this season (so far), as I figured he wouldn't get even the meager goal support needed to produce such a nice array of wins.
I still wonder if Schneider will be something of a "lost elite" goalie, at least for casual fans.
FLYERS 4, HURRICANES 3 (OT)
-- Shayne Gostisbehere did it again. The rookie again scored in overtime. It was his sixth goal of the season, with a ridiculous three of them coming after regulation. “Ghost” isn't just a guy creating the occasional clutch goal, either, as he now has 11 points in 15 games (he also managed an assist on Tuesday).
His 18.2 shooting percentage obviously indicates that things will slow down for him, but he still has a chance to at least be a useful fringe fantasy blueliner.
-- Jeff Skinner picked up his second hat trick in three games and the third one of his young NHL career. After a slow start to the season, Skinner is really on a nice run, which is pretty heartwarming stuff considering how many injury issues he’s fought through (particularly in concussions).
I’ve griped at the Hurricanes for not breaking up less efficient parts of their core, yet this is an instance where patience actually is reasonable. He’s still young, and his trade value was basically at an all-time low during recent spans, so why not see if an undeniably talented player can work through it?
(Of course, the response would be “He’s really expensive get rid of him sell sell sell.” Reasonable, too.)
-- EXPERIMENTAL LEFT WING Jakub Voracek managed two assists in this game. He also had a goal, so he has four points in his past two contests. As bad as things have been, his 19 points in 31 games and ridiculously low 2.2 shooting percentage scream "upside."
Not sure if Voracek is worth every bit of his salary, but he should be more than fine for the foreseeable future at age 26.
SHARKS 3, CANADIENS 1
-- The Sharks snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Habs on the road. Granted, not all is necessarily well; San Jose was limited to three SOG in the first period and two in the third (with 13 in the second) and generally leaned upon Martin Jones the whole way.
-- Sharks fans were concerned that Tomas Hertl was about to be traded, but it turned out that it was instead a late scratch because of a lower-body injury.
-- Dustin Tokarski was in goal for Montreal. He allowed three goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Mike Condon. Carey Price received a big ovation during an appearance, probably making Habs fans that much sicker about his absence.
-- Justin Braun recorded two assists for the Sharks. Breaking: his last name makes me smile.
FLAMES 2, PREDATORS 1 (OT)
-- Kris Russell scored in overtime to extend the Flames winning streak to six games. Streaks were indeed the theme of the night on Tuesday, but not every case involved runs ending.
-- The lone goal for the Predators came on a penalty shot by Cody Hodgson. Yes, he’s still with Nashville.
-- Johnny Gaudreau continues his red-hot run. He nabbed an assist, giving him six points in a three-game streak. He also has 11 points in a six-game run in which he's only failed to generate a point in one contest.
BLUES 4, JETS 3
-- The Jets generated leads of 1-0 and 3-1, but they couldn't even squeeze a charity point out of this one. Not good, and not exactly the sort of night that makes you believe that Winnipeg should really be dying to pay big money to lock up free agents who aren't getting them over the hump.
Not sure I'd totally blame them for letting Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd walk, at least if they want big term and $6M+. (Buffy is worth that much, but not for 6-8 years. Not with that body that can go from advantage to albatross quicker than you may expect.)
-- The foursome of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny and Kevin Shattenkirk factored into the three goals St. Louis scored in coming back and winning. Steen and Tarasenko stood out the most with one-goal, two-assist nights.
-- Connor Hellebuyck is now on a two-game losing streak. Maybe most concerning is the fact that he's allowed four goals in two of his last three starts.
Winnipeg really stands as a puzzling team right now, especially if you look at things from a bigger picture perspective.
WILD 6, CANUCKS 2
Vanek and Koivu enjoyed four-point nights (both with a goal and two assists) while Parise generated a goal and two helpers himself.
Vanek ended a six-game pointless streak, so I imagine there are a lot of fantasy owners gritting their teeth that he was on their bench when he finally "did something."
-- The Sedins are like Fallout 4 robots, just going about their work even amid/following nuclear mayhem. Even with Vancouver getting throttled, the Sedins got on the board (Daniel Sedin scored a goal; Henrik nabbed two assists).
-- Ryan Miller was chased after two periods (where he allowed six goals, albeit on 36 shots). Minnesota relaxed in the final frame, only generating five of their 41 shots in the third period.
-- Darcy Kuemper improved his record to an odd-but-effective mark of 3-0-4. His nice .922 save percentage indicates that he can at least be a useful backup. At 25, there's also some room to grow.
STARS 5, BLUE JACKETS 1
-- Joonas Korpisalo lost his second game in as many nights. This one was tougher, as he gave up four goals on 27 shots before being pulled heading into the third period.
Imagine seeing that Stars offense in your second career NHL start. Yikes.
-- Tyler Seguin was especially scary, scoring two goals just 32 seconds apart. He now has 42 points in 31 games in 2015-16, four points behind Patrick Kane for the NHL lead with a game in hand. Jamie Benn grabbed an assist, bolstering him in third place at 41 points.
(Taylor Hall is a fairly distant fourth with 35 points.)
-- Kari Lehtonen is now 11-1-0 after making 34 out of 35 saves for this win. His .916 save percentage won't blow your mind, but considering Dallas' attacking style - and thus shaky defense/challenges for a goalie - he's doing quite well.