Five things we learned: Jets in danger of another lost season

Backstrom's 500th apple leads to an absolute nasty snipe from Oshie.

Nicklas Backstrom, the yin to Alex Ovechkin‘s yang, is the 139th NHLer to reach 500 assists, and the first Washington Capital.

The milestone achievement came just 1:38 into his team’s game against the due-to-regress Ottawa Senators in a 1-0 win.

Elsewhere, the Habs got a boost from some new blood in yet another win over the Leafs, Adam Larsson returned to New Jersey in a win, and the Rangers pulled off an incredible comeback against the league’s top team.

Here are five things we learned on Saturday.

Get better Laine

A frustrating year for Winnipeg Jets fans turned downright scary when rookie Patrik Laine was caught in the neutral zone by Buffalo defenceman Jake McCabe.

Laine has taken the league by storm this year, at times looking like an unstoppable force, so it was quite the shock to see him get stood up with such force.

There have been few things more entertaining this season than watching the 18-year-old Finn make goalies look silly with his already elite shot, and hopefully he is able to make a quick recovery.

A season that began with so much promise in Winnipeg is in danger of slipping away, as a young core that would be the envy of so many teams in the league hasn’t quite gotten the results one would have hoped, at least not yet.

The Jets not only lost their best goal-scorer on Saturday, but they also let a 3-1 third period lead vanish against the Sabres, who are tied for last in the Atlantic Division.

It’s not like Winnipeg is in any rush to make a make a Cup run (its future remains one of the league’s brightest), but if Paul Maurice can’t get his team to turn things around, it’ll make five of six seasons without a playoff berth since the Jets 2.0 arrived in Manitoba.

Devils win battle of The Trade

The New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers faced each other for the first time since the Taylor HallAdam Larsson deal, with Edmonton coming out ahead, at least for one night.

Larsson’s efforts as a Devil were acknowledged with a video tribute in the first period, while Hall was treated a bit less friendly by his former teammates.

In the end, it was Mark Letestu who stole the show.

His overtime blast spoiled a terrific bounce-back effort from Cory Schneider, who finished with 41 saves after being pulled in his last start.

Schneider had to make 10 saves before the game was even eight minutes old, as the Devils looked overwhelmed in the early stages of this one.

The Oilers now have points in eight of their last nine games.

Make it 13 straight for Montreal

The Toronto Maple Leafs have done a lot of great things already this season, but beating their historic rival is not one of them.

A patched-together Montreal Canadiens team missing several key pieces was able to walk out of Air Canada Centre with a regulation win, extending its winning streak over the Leafs to 13 games.

Nikita Scherbak, making his NHL debut, made quite the impression.

Oh, and remember how captain Max Pacioretty struggled to start the season?

Things have turned around quite a bit since then.

A Boston Bruins win in Florida pushed the Leafs outside the playoff picture once again.

Rangers rally for comeback in Columbus

There was a time when it looked as though the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to have one of their “score until everyone’s deaf from the cannon blasts” nights at Nationwide Arena, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old, and ending the first period up 3-1 over the New York Rangers.

Lukas Sedlak made it a three-goal game just three minutes into the second period on a breakaway, but then the Rangers woke up and stunned the league’s top team.

Michael Grabner cut in and rifled a wrist shot past Curtis McElhinney to get the Rangers back to within two which is where the score stayed going into the third.

There, Adam Clendening scored his first two goals of the season to make it 4-4 and set up overtime.

Or so we thought.

With less than 30 seconds remaining, Seth Jones fanned on a cross-ice pass and Grabner took off.

The goal (Grabner’s 18th) was beautiful, as was Oscar Lindberg‘s leap over a dejected McElhinney right after.

And those Blue Jackets who took the league by storm with a 16-game win streak?

They’re a paltry 1-2 in 2017.



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Tkachuk’s fantastic rookie season continues

He’s unlikely to win the Calder Trophy, but Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk deserves some love for his contributions thus far in 2016-17.

He’s not just putting up points, though his 25 has him fifth among rookies, but the 19-year-old is also Calgary’s best possession player, leading the team in Corsi.

Here’s what his assist on Michael Frolik‘s insurance marker looked like if you were a bird trapped in the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Tkachuk’s great play is coming through in all kinds of statistics as a matter of fact.

The Flames halted Vancouver’s surprising six-game win streak behind another strong performance from Chad Johnson, who is likely to get the bulk of the starts for Calgary for the foreseeable future.

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