6 things we learned in the NHL: Kings crown Maple Leafs

Jake Muzzin snapped a scoreless tie early in the third period and the Los Angeles Kings held on to win 2-1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Kings diminished the Maple Leafs’ dominance of the Western Conference, the Panthers extended their winning streak, Flames fall flat versus Coyotes, and more in 6 things we learned in the NHL.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have enjoyed a disproportionate amount of success against Western Conference teams this season, but their quasi-dominance came to a halt in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night.

Jeff Carter returned from a five-game absence to score the game-winner. Newly acquired veteran forward Vincent Lecavalier found his way onto the scoresheet in his Kings debut with an assist on Jake Muzzin‘s third-period goal.

The Maple Leafs fell to 11-6-1 versus the West. They’re 5-10-6 in contests against Eastern Conference opponents.

There was no lack of physicality in the first period. Nazem Kadri was leveled by Milan Lucic, while Roman Polak was ejected for a questionable boarding call.

Even referee Kelly Sutherland found himself in the line of fire, taking an inadvertent shoulder to the head from Muzzin.

Sutherland left the game but did return for the start of the second period.

Panthers extend franchise-record winning streak

If the Florida Panthers run out of gas and take a steep tumble from the top of the Atlantic Division standings, many will be quick to say that the writing was on the wall.

For now, though, we’re just going to have to enjoy the ride. The Panthers picked up their 11th straight win with a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators Thursday.

The Panthers were absolutely pummelled in the possession battle but it didn’t matter. Fancy stats are all well and good, but they’re no match for good old fashioned magic.

Everything is coming up Panthers, like this first period sequence of events that resulted in two goals on their first two shots just eight seconds apart.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo is also enjoying a career-best run with nine consecutive wins. His 30 save effort earned him the right to wear the Panthers’ “Spacey in Space” hoodie as the team’s player of the game.

Flames fail to remain perfect in 2016

It would have been a tall task for the Calgary Flames to have a better month than they enjoyed in December. After beginning January unbeaten in two games, the Flames ran out of fuel Thursday night versus the Arizona Coyotes.

On the bright side, Johnny Gaudreau snapped a mini four-game slump. “Johnny Hockey” potted his 18th goal of the season with a power-play marker in the first period.

The Flames now trail the Vancouver Canucks by one point for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes strengthened their grip on second place with the win, sitting three points up on Vancouver.

The Kings are the only Pacific Division team with a positive goal differential.

So Seguin CAN score without Benn

Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff followed up Tuesday night’s third period benching of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin by splitting up the league’s No. 2 and No. 3 leading scorers to start Thursday’s meeting with the Winnipeg Jets.

Seguin established his independence in the first period by scoring his 24th goal of the season sans Benn.

The Stars snapped a three-game skid with a 2-1 win.

The Sharks’ throwback sweaters are a beautiful thing

The San Jose Sharks busted out some throwback sweaters for their game versus the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night. What a gorgeous celebration of nostalgia.

(Jose Sanchez/AP) (Jose Sanchez/AP)

The Sharks have slowly gravitated back to their inaugural look, albeit with the inclusion of some orange and a new shoulder patch, but it’s high time they revert to these beauties for good.

Flyers provided a laugh in win over Wild

Fresh off an eventful Wednesday that saw veterans Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn dealt to the Kings, the Philadelphia Flyers looked like a club with renewed energy…for the most part.

Although Philadelphia would recover to pull off a 4-3 overtime win, a mix-up behind the net in the third period allowed the Minnesota Wild to pull even.

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