The Boston Bruins are on the kind of roll right now that has them winning games even when their leading goal scorer has been suspended, and when a shot never meant to go into the net does, and turns out to be the game winner.
The Bruins stretched their streak of picking up at least one point to 18 straight games with a 3-2 win over the Senators in Ottawa last night, and Jake DeBrusk's tie-breaking goal in the third period came off a bad angle shot that he threw at the net, hoping for a rebound, but the shot was instead misplayed by goalie Mike Condon, who saw it deflect off his stick and into the net. That's the way things have been going this season for the Senators, who have now lost five in a row and are nowhere near the playoffs despite having made it to the eastern conference finals just last season.
Danton Heinen scored for the Bruins, and Tim Schaller added another on a breakaway pass from Patrice Bergeron but the Senators tied the game just 20 seconds later, setting things up for the lucky strike by DeBrusk in the third. Tuukka Rask made 21 saves in net for the win, which came without the services of Brad Marchand, serving the first of a five-game suspension for elbowing New Jersey's Marcus Johansson in the head in Boston's previous game. That marks a real regression for Marchand, who has evolved from the early days of his career when he earned the nickname Little Ball of Hate for his pestering style of play, both physical and verbal ion the ice. Marchand has since become one of the best skill players in the game, and it had been a while since he'd done anything that puts another player's health at risk with a dirty move, so it was disappointing to see him throw that elbow at Johansson. Still, the Bruins found a way to keep their amazing streak going, now 14-0-4 in their last 18 games as they roll into the all-star break, and more on that game in a moment.
Elsewhere around the league the Montreal Canadiens lost in a defensively sloppy 6-5 setback against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre. Charles Hudon scored twice for Montreal, as the Habs overcame a 2-0 first period deficit to explode for four goals in the second, but neither team could stand their good fortune, with leads gained and given back in less time than it takes to warm up your coffee in a microwave. Five goals were scored by both teams in a span of just under three minutes in the second.
Justin Williams got the ultimate game winner for Carolina on a deflection and the Habs even had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but a shot by Paul Byron rang off the post. It will be very interesting to see which players the Canadiens offer up for trade after the all-star break, because at this point it's almost certain they'll be sellers, mired in fifth place in the Atlantic.
After a lackluster few weeks the Toronto Maple Leafs have now won two in a row following a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars last night. Back-up goalie Curtis McElhinney made 39 saves to get the win in net, and Nazem Kadri, who broke a seven game scoring drought with a goal in Toronto's previous contest, tallied two more last night, and Jake Gardiner had three assists.
The NY Rangers were in need of a win, having lost three straight on their current road trip, and they got the spark they needed from Ryan McDonagh, who had yet to find the back of the net this season but tallied two goals last night in the Ranger's 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. J.T. Miller added a goal and two assists as the Rangers try to get into the playoff bubble, right now one point outside of a wild card berth.
As for the all-star game itself, which takes place Sunday, the NHL seems to be taking a page out of the PR playbook drawn up by the morally questionable folks who run the National Football League. For some reason NHL president Gary Bettman, team owners, and everyone involved in decisions about the face the league chooses to show fans and potential fans, thought it would be a good idea to have Kid Rock be the musical entertainment for the game, and I hope you can sense the air quotes I have around entertainment in that sentence.
If you're not familiar with Kid Rock, don't feel like you're missing a thing, but if you are blissfully unaware of his shtick, he's a guy who uses confederate flags as backdrops at his concerts, has made numerous disparaging comments about the LBGTQ community, mocks transgender people, and generally comes across as a musical--air quotes again--equivalent of the inebriated uncle who ruins your Thanksgiving dinner ever year.
None of which would be a problem except that the NHL, an overwhelmingly white league with mostly white players, run by mostly white people, has been trying hard to showcase its wonderful game--and it is wonderful--to a wider audience, and part of that campaign has been dubbed, literally, "Hockey is for everyone." A quick Youtube search of Kid Rock's antics shows why the choice to have him play should earn the league a game misconduct for false advertising.
In men's college hoops, the Norwich Cadets had their shooting shoes on, converting 69% of their shots in the first half, on the way to an 89-84 win over Anna Maria College in Massachusetts last night. Zygimantas Sirvydas led the Cadets with 25 points and Norwich gets closer to evening their record at .500, now at 7-9 on the year, while going 4-3 against Great Northeast Athletic Conference opponents with the win over the Amcats.
The Norwich women were victorious as well on the road, beating St. Joseph College of Connecticut 57-38 behind a team-high 14 points from Thetford Center's Shyann Josler, and an 11-rebound effort from Emily Oliver.
At Johnson State, the Badgers got a great game from Mariah Ramos, who fell just short of a double double with 21 points and 9 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to hold off SUNY Canton in a 60-57 loss.
And finally, Hyeon Chung withdrew with injury in his semi-final match against Roger Federer, meaning Federer, the defending Australian Open champ, will take on Marin Cilic in the men's final.