Essential Water Cooler
Tuesday night in Chicago, Jonathan Toews and his Blackhawks teammates – most of them, anyway – again showed the hockey world why they’re the defending Stanley Cup champions. Despite a disastrous start to the game that saw the Hawks trailing Ottawa 4-2 midway through the second period, Chicago’s captain scored three of the next five goals for his third career hat trick and a 6-5 win over the Senators. Toews’ memorable night gave him seven goals and 13 points in as many games and vaulted him in into a tie for the Hawks’ scoring lead with fellow star Patrick Kane. Chicago also got a tremendous goaltending relief appearance out of Corey Crawford after starter Nikolai Khabibulin soiled the sheets with another sub-par performance and was pulled midway through the second period; Crawford stopped 14 of the 15 shots he saved to allow his team to get back into the game and upend the struggling Sens, who have lost three in a row.
The Leafs’ 4-0 domination of the Oilers was all about Phil Kessel, who finished with a pair of goals and four assists. Kessel’s second goal was an astonishing example of his killer hand-eye coordination: After taking a pass from teammate Nazem Kadri behind Edmonton’s net, Kessel took the puck to his forehand and scored from the goal line at a seemingly impossible angle. The 26-year-old now is second in NHL scoring with 18 points.
Men of the Night
Carey Price, Montreal: The Canadiens goalie stopped 26 of 27 Stars shots to power Montreal to a 2-1 victory over Dallas that was the Habs’ second win in as many nights and third in a row.
Kyle Palmieri, Anaheim: The Ducks winger scored two straight third-period goals to push the Ducks past Philadelphia 3-2.
Jaromir Jagr, Devils. The future Hall-of-Famer scored his 684th career NHL regular-season goal and it stood up as the game-winner – the 119th of his incredible career – to give the Devils a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Alex Steen, St. Louis: Steen’s scoring hot streak continued as he netted the game-winner with 59.4 seconds left in regulation to help his Blues beat the Jets 3-2.
Mike Smith, Phoenix: The Coyotes goalie stopped 41 shots in Phoenix’s 3-1 win over the Kings and redeemed himself after a previously awful outing against L.A. last week.
Better Luck Next Time
Khabibulin was rancid for the Hawks Tuesday, allowing four goals on 22 shots for an .818 save percentage. The 40-year-old has allowed 10 goals on the last 47 shots he's faced in his last two starts. If this keeps up, Chicago GM Stan Bowman may have no choice but to sign or trade for a replacement.