Thursday night was an action-packed evening across the National Hockey League with multiple games needing more than 60 minutes to decide a winner. We had a pair of veterans come up with huge saves, a rookie picking up his first career win and an emotional win in the Ontario Hockey League.
Varlamov & Lehner Make the Highlight Reel
Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference got together when the Boston Bruins hosted the New York Islanders at the TD Garden. The Islanders grabbed a 3-2 shootout victory thanks to a goal and an assist from former Bruin Johnny Boychuk and 27 saves by Semyon Varlamov to snap their seven-game losing streak versus Boston.
Varlamov’s biggest save came late in the second period with the game even at 1-1. Charlie McAvoy took the puck behind the net and then made a nice cross-ice feed to Anders Bjork, who looked like he had his second goal of the evening. And then this happened.
Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Robin Lehner made 36 saves to help the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Jets 4-1. He stopped all 30 shots he faced through the first two periods before the Blackhawks’ defense shored things up in the final frame.
Out of those 30 saves during the first 40 minutes, his best one came late in the second period by sprawling out to rob Kyle Connor of a potential game-tying goal.
The combination of Lehner’s play between the pipes and four points from Patrick Kane was enough for the Blackhawks to leave Bell MTS Place with a big road victory.
Hogberg Gets Win Number One
Marcus Hogberg came into Thursday’s game against the Nashville Predators winless in his first seven NHL games. He made 33 saves for the Ottawa Senators and grabbed his first career victory when Anthony Duclair scored 2:40 into overtime.
The road got a little bumpy for Hogberg once the Senators built a 4-1 lead early in the third period. The Predators roared back with three goals in less than 12 minutes to force overtime before Duclair matched his career-high for goals with his 20th on the season in the extra time.
Hogberg was not scheduled to start, but when Anders Nilsson fell ill during the day, he was called into service against the Predators.
“I said to myself to just be patient and try to play my game and focus on the next save,” said Hogberg after his big night. “This was my first win and I’m just really happy.”
IceDogs Return in Grand Fashion
The Niagara IceDogs had not played since goaltender Tucker Tynan was severely injured on Dec. 12 against the London Knights. After postponing the remainder of the game against London and both of their games over the weekend, the IceDogs hosted the Kingston Frontenacs on Thursday night.
Before the game, the team honored those who treated Tynan immediately following the scary injury including the IceDogs and Knights’ medical staff, the EMS first responders who were on the scene and Tynan’s billet family.
Once the puck dropped, Niagara rolled to an inspired 11-3 blowout victory. Right after the final horn sounded, the team grabbed Tynan’s jersey and did a lap around the ice to let their fallen teammate know he is on their minds.
What a great moment!
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.