Five things we learned in the NHL: Signature Stamkos

George Stroumboulopoulos makes his way through Nashville, pointing out the sights and sounds of Music City as they prepare for the NHL All-Star festivities.

A Stamkos one-timer, an ironman streak, a controversy in Calgary and more. Here’s what we learned on the eve of the all-star break.

Signature Stamkos
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding Steven Stamkos‘ future in Tampa Bay, but fans in Florida could find comfort in a familiar sight: No. 91 setting up shop at the left faceoff dot.

It took two tries, but Stamkos scored with a signature one-timer from his favourite spot:

The power-play goal, which came less than five minutes into the game, wound up being the only one to get past Jonathan Bernier in the Lightning’s 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Despite all the injuries and front office distractions the team has experienced of late, Tampa has been on a roll. They go into the break with nine wins in their last 11 games to start the New Year, and officially sitting in the playoff picture with 58 points.

As for those contract talks between the captain and his club, Stamkos kept it simple: “The window is open to talk, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Maple Leafs at a standstill
It was a good night for Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to register his first shutout of the season…

… but a bad night for the Maple Leafs, who are winless through 13 divisional matchups this season (0-7-6).

Despite Jonathan Bernier’s solid 28-save performance, the Maple Leafs couldn’t come away with a single goal Wednesday night during their annual Father’s Trip. They remain tied with the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets at the bottom of the league with 43 points as they head into the all-star break.

The team got off to a slow start, failing to put a shot on net until 12 minutes into the game — a poor trend of late.

One of the Leafs’ best chances came on the power play, but Vasilevskiy stopped Dion Phaneuf‘s shot to preserve his shutout. Despite four opportunities Wednesday, the Leafs have now been unable to capitalize on the power play in nine straight games.

Alzner claims Capitals’ ironman streak
Karl Alzner reached a pretty cool milestone when he hit the ice Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, becoming the Washington Capitals‘ all-time ironman with his 423rd consecutive game with the franchise, dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season.

Defenceman Bobby Carpenter set the previous record of 422 games in 1986.

In case you’re wondering, the longest active NHL ironman streak is held by Andrew Cogliano — he hasn’t missed a game in his career, skating in his 669th consecutive game Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins.

As for the all-time record, that belongs to defenceman Doug Jarvis, who never missed a regular season matchup throughout his 964-game career.

Jakub Voracek sniped home the game-winner in overtime, tying him with OT specialist Johnny Gaudreau for the league-lead in OT points with seven.

Following the game, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that captain Alex Ovechkin would not be participating in the All-Star Game due to injury. The team confirmed shortly after. Read the full story here.

Controversy in Calgary
Wednesday’s matchup between the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators featured plenty of big collisions — the biggest of which occurred between Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman and referee. The strange sequence began with Wideman taking a huge hit against the boards. He looked noticeably shaken up as he skated to the bench, which is when he knocked an official off his skates. Neither play was called.

According to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, Wideman did apologize.

Wednesday wasn’t the Flames’ finest showing, but Mark Giordano was a bright spot. The captain has been red-hot lately, and that trend continued against Nashville.

Down 2-0 in the third period, Giordano connected on a big shot to beat goaltender Carter Hutton in an attempt to spark a comeback at home. He has now earned at least one point in 14 of his last 17 games. Try as they might, the Flames couldn’t make up for their slow start, losing to the hosts of the upcoming all-star weekend by a score of 2-1.

Lucic throws a stray punch

Wednesday was a rough night for linesmen in general.

Over in Los Angeles, an official’s face was the recipient of an errant Milan Lucic punch during a scrum. The referee looked a little stunned by the accidental shot, but was OK.

The Colorado Avalanche held off a late push by the Kings to come away with the win.