Home Team in CAPS
Chicago 3, BUFFALO 2 (SO)
ST. LOUIS 3, Calgary 2
TORONTO 5, Los Angeles 0
Anaheim 2, NEW JERSEY 1
Carolina 2, PITTSBURGH 1
COLUMBUS 3, Philadelphia 2 (SO)
DALLAS 6, Montreal 2
NASHVILLE 3, Minnesota 2
ARIZONA 1, NY Islanders 0
COLORADO 5, Edmonton 1
STARS RECLAIM TOP SPOT IN NHL STANDINGS . . .
Jamie Benn (2-1—3) and Jason Spezza (1-2—3) had three points apiece to power the Dallas Stars past the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens and back into top spot in the NHL standings.
* At 24-7-2 (50 points), the Stars became the first team to reach 50 points in 2015-16 and pulled two points ahead of the idle Washington Capitals (23-6-2, 48 points) for first place in the entire League. Via Elias Sports Bureau, the Stars also reached 50 points in 33 games during the 1998-99 season (22-5-6, 50 points) when they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history.
* The Stars are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games at American Airlines Center. Their 13 home wins share first in the NHL in 2015-16 (w/ WSH, NYR and CHI).
* Benn scored his 21st and 22nd goals of the season to surpass Vladimir Tarasenko (21) for the League lead. He paces all players with five multi-goal efforts (tied w/ Mike Hoffman) and six three-point games in 2015-16.
* Benn and Tyler Seguin (1-1—2) share second in League scoring with 44 points apiece (Benn: 22-22—44 and Seguin: 18-26—44), four points behind Patrick Kane (20-28—48).
* Spezza has 30-36—66 in 57 career games against the Canadiens, his second-highest total against one opponent (23-44—67 in 57 GP vs. BUF).
. . . CENTRAL DIVISION RIVALS KEEP PACE
The St. Louis Blues (20-10-4, 44 points), Chicago Blackhawks (19-11-4, 42 points) and Nashville Predators (16-11-6, 38 points) earned victories to keep pace in the crowded Central Division standings, where teams Nos. 2-5 are separated by six points:
* Vladimir Tarasenko (1-2—3) factored on all three Blues goals to help them pick up their third straight victory and halt the Calgary Flames' winning streak at seven games. Tarasenko, who ranks second in the League with 21 goals, established a career high with a goal in his fifth straight game (5-4—9). Two other players have goal streaks of at least five games this season: Chicago's Patrick Kane (Nov. 2-15: 7-9—16 in 7 GP) and San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski (Oct. 24 – Nov. 3: 6-1—7 in 5 GP).
* Brian Elliott made 36 saves and is 8-3-0 in 12 career games against the Flames, including seven consecutive victories (1.29 GAA, .930 SV%, 2 SO).
* Buffalo native Patrick Kane tied the score with 33.5 seconds remaining in regulation and then scored the lone shootout goal to rally the Blackhawks to a win in his hometown, their fourth victory in their past five games. Kane, who continues to pace the NHL with 20-28—48, has a point in 31 of 34 games this season. He leads all players with 17 power-play points, and his 11 goals with the man-advantage are one behind Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk.
* Corey Crawford made 25 saves through overtime and denied all three shootout attempts. He is 6-1-0 in his past seven games (0.85 GAA, .971 SV%, 3 SO) and 6-0-0 in six career games vs. BUF. (1.81 GAA, .932 SV%).
* Shea Weber (0-2—2) had two primary assists and James Neal scored the eventual game-winning goal to help the Predators halt the Minnesota Wild's point streak at nine games (6-0-3). Weber, who ranks second on the Predators with 9-13—22 this season, has 3-9—12 in the month of December – tied for the League-lead (w/ Vladimir Tarasenko: 7-5—12 and Johnny Gaudreau: 7-5—12).
* Pekka Rinne (20 SV) is 10-3-3 on home ice this season (1.99 GAA, .922 SV%, 2 SO), compared to 3-6-3 on the road. He denied Jason Zucker on a first-period penalty shot to lift goaltenders to a 24-for-32 success rate in that situation this season (75.0%).
GUIDED BY THE GOALIE
Semyon Varlamov (COL) extended his personal winning streak to six games, while Jonathan Bernier (TOR) and Louis Domingue (ARI) posted shutout victories:
* Varlamov made 39 saves, including 27 over the first two periods, to help the Colorado Avalanche to their fifth consecutive victory, their longest winning streak since March 25 – April 5, 2014 (6-0-0). Varlamov extended his personal winning streak to six games (.989 GAA, .970 SV%, 1 SO), equaling his career high most recently achieved from March 4-19, 2015. The Avalanche are 7-2-0 in the month of December, with Varlamov earning the decision in all seven victories after beginning the season with five wins in his first 14 games.
* Bernier, the 11th overall selection by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006 NHL Draft, made 26 saves to register his 10th career shutout (first this season) and guide the Maple Leafs past his former club. Bernier – who registered three straight shutouts during a conditioning stint with Toronto of the American Hockey League from Dec. 4-13 (4 GP) – earned his first win in four career games against the Kings. Via Elias Sports Bureau, Bernier is the fourth former Kings goaltender to record a shutout against the club and the first to do so since March 6, 1982 (Rogie Vachon: 24 SV w/ BOS).
* Domingue, a fifth-round selection (No. 138) by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2010 NHL Draft, denied all 25 shots he faced to pick up his first career shutout (9 GP) and second career victory (also Feb. 1 at MTL). At 23 years, 288 days, Elias Sports Bureau says Domingue became the youngest goaltender to post a shutout for the Coyotes since Feb. 16, 2001 at CAR (Robert Esche: 23 years, 25 days).
AROUND THE RINKS
* Cam Ward made 36 saves, including 13 in the first period to help the Carolina Hurricanes improve to 3-0-1 in their past four road games. John-Michael Liles scored his first goal of the season and first game-winning goal since April 4, 2010 vs. SJ (w/ COL).
* Frederik Andersen made 21 saves to help the Anaheim Ducks halt a three-game road losing streak in his 100th career game (60-24-9, 2.37 GAA, .917 SV%, 3 SO). Ryan Kesler scored his 30th career game-winning goal (first this season).
* The Columbus Blue Jackets had their 2-0 lead erased in the third period, but Brandon Dubinsky (0-1—1) scored in the sixth round of the shootout to lift them to another win and a 9-1-0 record in their past 10 games with the Philadelphia Flyers dating to Dec. 21, 2013 (PHI: 1-7-2)
MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS
* Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla scored his 598th career goal to move within two of becoming the 19th player in NHL history to reach the 600-goal milestone. Iginla, an Edmonton native, has tallied 38-50—88 in 95 career games against the Edmonton Oilers.
* Coyotes captain Shane Doan played in his 1,417th career game to surpass Al MacInnis (1,416 GP) and tie Luke Richardson (1,147 GP) for 29th place on the NHL’s all-time games played list.
* Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who leads all blueliners with four game-winning goals this season, scored the 20th decisive goal of his career to surpass Teppo Numminen (19 GWG) for the most game-winning goals by a defenseman in Coyotes/Jets franchise history.
* Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, a third-round selection (No. 62) in the 2012 NHL Draft, made 30 saves through overtime – and denied five of six shootout attempts – to register his first career victory (3 GP).
* Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (24 SV), a third-round selection (No. 83) in the 2012 NHL Draft, made his League debut.
* Penguins forward Phil Kessel (selected No. 5 by the Boston Bruins) became the first member of the 2006 NHL Draft class to play in 700 career games. Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (400) and Sabres forward Jamie McGinn (400) also played in milestone games.
Wild forward Zach Parise (1-0—1) had at least one point for the seventh straight game (4-6—10), his longest point streak since Jan. 24 – Feb. 9, 2012 w/ NJ (6-3—9). … Maple Leafs linemates Michael Grabner (2-2—4), Leo Komarov (2-1—3) and Nazem Kadri (0-2—2) combined for 4-5—9, and defenseman Matt Hunwick (0-2—2) also registered multiple points. Grabner posted his first multi-goal game since Feb. 27, 2014 vs. TOR (w/ NYI) and also established a career high with his first career four-point performance. … Defensemen Nick Holden (COL) and Colton Parayko (STL), who hail from St. Albert, Alta., scored against the Oilers and Flames, respectively. Parayko, who paces all first-year blueliners with 6-8—14, also tied Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) for the League lead among rookie defensemen with six goals. … The Blues are 8-0-1 in their past nine games with the Flames dating to April 25, 2013 (CGY: 1-8-0). … Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin (10-21—31) had one assist to extend his lead in the rookie scoring race to six points ahead of Coyotes forward Max Domi (10-15—25). … Blues forward Alexander Steen (0-2—2), who has 1-7—8 in his past six games, ranks second on the team with 11-21—32 this season (34 GP). … Flyers forward Jakub Voracek (1-0—1), who scored the tying goal against the Blue Jackets, has 4-10—14 in 12 career games against his former team. … Canadiens forward Paul Byron scored his third shorthanded goal of the season, one behind League-leader Jean-Gabriel Pageau. … Dickie Moore, a six-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time scoring champion, passed away at age 84. Click here to learn more about his impressive career.