My 3 stars of the night: 1. Marian Gaborik, NYR (3 Goals, 1 Assist)… Gabby’s hat trick propelled the Rangers to a win over their rival Islanders. His third was the game-winner. 2. Sidney Crosby, PIT (3 Goals) 3. Andrew Raycroft, DAL (37 Saves, 1 GA) Close but no cigar: T. Hall and J. Eberle, EDM; D. Krejci and M. Ryder, BOS; A. Niemi and L. Couture, SJ; S. Avery, NYR Quick-hit Observations:
- Dany Heatley’s return to Ottawa didn’t have any significant fireworks, but the fans definitely let him know how they felt. Countless ‘Heatley Sucks’ and ‘Trai-tor’ chants rained down, especially in the first. The fans’ disgust quickly turned to their own team as the Sens have now dropped seven of nine. Is Cory Clouston feeling the heat?
- Speaking of the Sens, when will they pull the plug on Pascal Leclaire? He has either been a sieve or injured in his time with the team. Brian Elliott has been the better goalie in the last year or so, but continues to start sporadically.
- Where do the Leafs go from here? A 5-0 home loss to the Oilers did not sit well with the fans, where chants of ‘Fire Wilson’ broke out in the third period.
- Is Taylor Hall starting to turn a corner? Five points in the last five games…
- The Habs responded very well after blowing a 3-1 third period to the Oilers last night. Their 5-1 win in New Jersey was basically decided in the first when the Habs scored twice in the first 1:38.
- What is there left to say about Sidney Crosby? Another home game, another hat trick. He and Stamkos are now tied with 21 goals.
- The hard-luck continues on Long Island. The one time the Isles score five goals, they surrender six – to their rival Blueshirts, no less. The Rangers and Isles will meet again tonight to finish the home-and-home.
- Washington should have gained at least a point in Dallas, but had a game-tying goal waved off with 7.6 seconds left. They were robbed as Karlis Skrastins crashed into Andrew Raycroft, not Ovechkin.
- Poor Mike Smith. Two of the goals he gave up were bloopers, coming out of the crease and looking horrible (see below).
- Is a comeback win over Florida the icebreaker for L.A.? They’ve struggled mightily over the last few weeks, but it was a big win with Detroit coming to town on Saturday.
Islanders @ Rangers, 7:00 ET
Avalanche @ Hurricanes, 7:00
Blue Jackets @ Sabres, 7:30
Flames @ Wild, 8:00
Canucks @ Blackhawks, 8:30
Red Wings @ Ducks, 10:00
Game of the Night: Vancouver Canucks @ Chicago Blackhawks
8:30 ET… TV: NHL Net. (US), TSN, Local Networks
Players to watch: VAN- Ryan Kesler
You assume the Sedins will show up, but Kesler is the one that has to have a great game. CHI- Patrick Kane
Kane had three points on Tuesday and also had three points in Vancouver last month.
Injury Report: VAN- Sami Salo (Achilles, out), Guillaume Desbiens (hand, out), Ryan Parent (groin, out), Alexandre Bolduc (ankle, out) CHI- Marian Hossa (lower body, out), Fernando Pisani (upper body, questionable)
Tonight, these two playoff rivals will meet for the third time this season. Chicago has won each of the first two games, including a 7-1 win in Vancouver two weeks ago. Will the Canucks avenge that loss? Both teams are playing well coming in, and this makes up to be a pretty good contest. I like Vancouver if they can get on the board first… Prediction: Canucks 3, Blackhawks 2
The rest of tonight’s predictions:
Rangers over Islanders
Hurricanes over Avalanche
Blue Jackets over Sabres
Wild over Flames
Red Wings over Ducks
--- Morning Links: - CBC… Elliotte Friedman on last night’s double-disaster in Ontario. - NHL Fan House… Chris Botta tells us to embrace the hype surrounding the Winter Classic. - Inside Hockey… A Q&A with Islanders GM Garth Snow.
--- Video of the Day:
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.