The New York Islanders got some revenge on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Alex Steen scored the overtime winner to lift the St. Louis Blues over the Nashville Predators, while Jacob Trouba’s two goals helped the Winnipeg Jets down the Detroit Red Wings.
Here are five things we learned during Tuesday’s NHL action:
Jimmy (Hayes) played pretty good: It has been a special year for Boston Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes, playing for his hometown team.
Prior to this year, Hayes has bounced around the league after being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and playing for the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers before landing in Boston.
The Massachusetts native surely had the highlight of his season thus far Tuesday night, registering his first career NHL hat trick to help the Bruins win their final game before the Winter Classic.
Hayes completed the hat trick in style, scoring in the final seconds of the third period in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
By the way, in case you didn’t understand the title of sub-heading, it’s a reference from the TV show Seinfeld.
Blue Jackets aren’t dead yet: Unlike the NBA, it’s possible for the worst team to beat the best team on any given night in the NHL.
In fact, it happened on Tuesday when the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets upset the first-place Dallas Stars.
Who saw that coming? Bueller?
Curtis McElhinney made 40 saves, Brandon Dubinsky had three assists, and Brandon Saad scored on one of his seven shots on goal to lift the Blue Jackets to an impressive 6-3 victory, despite being outshot 43-33.
It was a much-needed win for Columbus, who remain in dead last in the Eastern Conference (and the NHL). But on this night, there’s plenty to be proud of for Blue Jackets fans.
Even John Tortorella might be happy.
Sellout in Florida: As someone who has attended several games in Sunrise, Fla., it’s strange to type these words but the Panthers are starting to draw legitimate crowds.
Although Tuesday’s might have been a bit inflated by Habs fans. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Whenever the Montreal Canadiens are in town in late December, Florida always draws well because of all the Montrealers (snowbirds) in town for the Christmas holidays — or if they’re lucky, the entire winter.
However, as Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News pointed out on Twitter, the Panthers have been building a more steady attendance as of late. The crowd of 16,902 this past Sunday was a nice surprise for the Panthers’ organization and perhaps a sign the Panthers are gaining momentum in terms of building a loyal fan base.
The team’s recent attendance spike makes sense as the club has won eight games in a row, jumping into first place in the Atlantic Division after defeating the Canadiens 3-1.
There’s plenty of reason to be excited in Florida right now as they have the hottest team in the NHL. The roster boasts of an impressive core of young talent along with an all-time legend in Jaromir Jagr and a quality goaltender in Roberto Luongo.
Why not continue to show support for this team, Florida?
Scrivens holds up in Canadiens debut: Speaking of the Canadiens, Ben Scrivens made his debut in net for the club one day after he was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers.
And the veteran netminder fared pretty well. He made 27 saves on 30 shots and made a handful of impressive saves in the first period, including this great stop on Jagr.
Despite the Canadiens continuing to slide — 2-8-0 in their last 10 games — Scrivens’ performance was surely a silver lining in the team’s most recent defeat.
Bernier struggles again: It has been a trying season for Toronto Maple Leafs Jonathan Bernier and the goaltender didn’t help his cause in Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders.
Bernier allowed six goals on 15 shots before he was pulled and replaced by James Reimer, who made six saves in the third period.
“I don’t think I was ready, I wasn’t good enough tonight,” Bernier told reporters after the loss. “Wasn’t my game, I wasn’t good and I just have to be better next game.”
It’s unfortunate because Bernier has been playing better of late. He was solid this past Sunday in a victory over the Islanders, and while his statistics Tuesday definitely didn’t look good, he can’t be fully held responsible for Tuesday’s performance.
Some of the goals could be attributed to defensive breakdowns but Bernier admitted himself that he has to be more reliable in net before Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock can be comfortable playing him on a regular basis.
Bernier is surely hoping 2016 goes better than his last calendar year.