Home Team in Caps
Florida 2, BUFFALO 0
Montreal 4, NEW JERSEY 2
PITTSBURGH 6, Tampa Bay 3
CAROLINA 2, Philadelphia 1
MINNESOTA 3, Toronto 1
COLORADO 2, Edmonton 1 (SO)
NY Islanders 2, CALGARY 1
ANAHEIM 4, St. Louis 3
BELESKEY NETS (ANOTHER) WINNER, DUCKS REMAIN ATOP STANDINGS
The Anaheim Ducks surrendered three one-goal leads, but Matt Beleskey (1-1-2) scored at 10:55 of the third period to lift the Ducks to their ninth straight home win against the St. Louis Blues (dating to Jan. 7, 2010).
* The Ducks (25-9-6, 56 points) improved to 11-3-1 in their past 15 games to maintain their lead atop the NHL standings.
* Beleskey leads the Ducks with 16 goals this season, including five game-winners to equal Patrick Kane, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Lars Eller for the NHL lead in that category. His second multipoint performance of the season helped him eclipse 100 career points.
* Frederik Andersen matched a season-high with 39 saves to earn his 21st win of the season (tied for second with Carey Price). Andersen improved to 3-0-0 in his career when facing at least 40 shots.
* Sami Vatanen (0-2-2) established a new career-high with his 17th assist of the season, and Ryan Kesler also had two assists. Kesler (12-17-29) and Vatanen (9-17-26) rank second and third, respectively, on the Ducks’ scoring list.
* Ryan Getzlaf scored his second power-play goal of the season to move into a share of third in League scoring with 13-30—43 in 49 GP.
PENGUINS OVERTAKE LIGHTNING FOR TOP SPOT IN EAST . . .
Sidney Crosby had four assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period en route to their ninth consecutive win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Consol Energy Center in the regular season dating to Nov. 12, 2010. Tampa Bay, however, won three of four games in the building during the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, including a 1-0 victory in Game 7.
* With the victory, the Penguins won their season series against the Lightning (2-1-0) and improved to 11-1-2 vs. the Atlantic Division this season. At 24-9-5 (53 points), the Penguins leapfrogged the Lightning (24-12-4, 52 points) for first place in the Eastern Conference.
* Crosby, who had five assists Nov. 8, 2014 at the Buffalo Sabres, is one of three players with multiple four-point performances this season (Vladimir Tarasenko, Jeff Carter). Per Elias Sports Bureau, Crosby leads all players with 27 such outings since his debut in 2005-06, seven more than San Jose’s Joe Thornton (20), who is the only other player with at least 20 such performances.
* Christian Ehrhoff recorded his 24th career game-winning goal. Each of his past four goals have been game-winners, including three this season. Since 2009-10, he leads all NHL defensemen with 16 game-winning goals.
* Celebrating his 32nd birthday, Andrew Ebbett (1-1-2) scored his first NHL goal since March 14, 2013 (1-2-3 vs. the Nashville Predators while with the Vancouver Canucks). Ebbett, who signed with the Penguins in July 2013, also scored on his birthday during the 2008-09 season while with Anaheim.
* Making his first start since Dec. 13, Thomas Greiss made 32 saves to improve to 4-2-2 this season.
. . . ISLANDERS, CANADIENS WIN TO KEEP PACE
The New York Islanders (26-11-1, 53 points) and Montreal Canadiens (25-11-2, 52 points) each earned a victory to keep pace atop the crowded Eastern Conference.
* John Tavares (2-0-2) registered his 25th career multigoal game as the Islanders opened a multigoal lead for the fourth time in as many games before holding on for their seventh win in their past nine games (7-1-1). Kyle Okposo (0-2-2) posted his ninth multipoint game of the season; he has 1-6-7 in his past six games and 8-26-34 in 38 GP (tied for team lead with Tavares: 17-17-34).
* The Islanders’ 26 wins lead the entire NHL and match the franchise record for most wins in a season’s first 38 games (1978-79). They have won four of their past six visits to Calgary after dropping six straight trips from 1993-94 to 1999-2000.
* Michael Bournival (2-0-2) registered his first career multigoal game, and P.K. Subban tallied three assists to help the Canadiens extend their winning streak to five games. The Canadiens leapfrogged the Lightning into first place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal has played two fewer games but Tampa Bay holds the ROW tiebreaker (TBL: 23, MTL: 20).
* Playing in his 400th NHL game, Carey Price made 22 saves to pick up his 200th career regular-season victory. He has won seven of his past eight games, posting a 1.38 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in that span. He ranks among the top-10 goaltenders in wins (21, T-2nd), save percentage (.927, T-6th) and goals-against average (2.18, 7th).
LUONGO CONTINUES DOMINANCE OF SABRES
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo denied all 30 shots he faced to record his second shutout of the season and improve to 6-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .976 save percentage and four shutouts in his past six decisions against the Sabres.
* Luongo recorded his second shutout of the season – also Oct. 17 vs. BUF – and 68th of his career, surpassing Roy Worters for sole possession of 13th on the NHL’s all-time list.
* Aaron Ekblad recorded his 21st point of the season (5-16-21) to equal the Panthers franchise record for points by a rookie defenseman (Ed Jovanovski, 1995-96: 10-11-21 in 70 GP).
* Fresh off signing a six-year contract extension, Nick Bjugstad scored his team-leading 14th goal and 22nd point. Brad Boyes also found the back of the net for his 36th career game-winning goal (third this season).
STRONG BETWEEN THE PIPES
The Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes also earned victories behind strong performances by their goaltenders:
* Darcy Kuemper stopped 34 shots to set a career-high with his 13th win of the season and help the Wild snap a four-game skid on home ice with a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 31 total games at Xcel Energy Center (regular season and playoffs), Kuemper is 19-7-2 with a 2.15 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and three shutouts. With the game tied at 1-1 in the third period, the Wild scored two goals in less than two minutes, including Jared Spurgeon’s sixth career game-winning goal. Wild defensemen have combined for six game-winners this season (also Marco Scandella: 4, Matt Dumba: 1). Per Elias, only the Rangers (7) have more game-winning goals from the blue line.
* Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots and two shootout attempts to guide the Avalanche to their fifth consecutive shootout victory. Varlamov has earned points in six of his past eight starts (5-2-1) and improved to 7-7-5 this season. Matt Duchene (14-for-35, 40.0%) scored his seventh career game-deciding goal in a shootout and Alex Tanguay (22-for-56, 39.3%) clinched the win with his third shootout goal of the season.
* Cam Ward turned aside 23 shots to help the Hurricanes snap a three-game skid and earn their fifth win in their past six games with the Philadelphia Flyers (5-1-0). Eric Staal scored for the third straight game to stretch his point streak to four games (3-1-4); he paces the Hurricanes with 10-12-22 in 33 GP. Brad Malone also found the back of the net for his first goal in a Hurricanes uniform (28 GP).
Wild forward Mikko Koivu (1-1-2) registered his 109th career multipoint game, and Charlie Coyle (0-2-2) posted his eighth such performance . . . Wild forward Jason Pominville (0-1-1) has 19-31-50 in 53 career games against the Maple Leafs, marking his highest point total against any opponent. Overall, he has 4-12-16 in his past 17 games . . . Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty found the back of the net for his team-leading 15th goal and 29th point . . . Flames forward Jiri Hudler notched an assist to stretch his point streak to six games (0-8-8) . . . Devils forward Michael Ryder snapped a 21-game goal drought. The former Canadiens forward has 5-7-12 in 23 GP vs. MTL . . . Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn (600) and Nicklas Grossmann (500) and Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (200) each played in milestone games . . . Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk tallied 1-1-2, including his League-leading 20th power-play point. He ranks second among all defensemen with 6-25-31 in 38 games . . . Penguins forwards Steve Downie (2-0-2), Evgeni Malkin (1-1-2) and Kris Letang (0-2-2) each posted multipoint performances . . . Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri found the back of the net in his return from a six-game absence due to a shoulder injury . . . Oilers forward Benoit Pouliot scored in his return to the lineup following an 18-game absence due to injury . . . Penguins forward Nick Spaling reached 100 NHL points . . . The Penguins acquired forward David Perron from the Oilers in exchange for forward Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft . . . Getzlaf, Kane and Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky were named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of December . . . Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for December.