Five things we learned in the NHL: Puppy for Atkinson fan

A solid pass play on an odd-man rush in the dying seconds of the game gave Cam Atkinson a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens. Does this mean that kid will get three dogs?

The Canadiens fell short in Columbus. Brett Connolly scored a key goal for the Bruins, while the Coyotes overcame a disallowed overtime goal to win in a shootout.

Here are five things we learned during Monday’s NHL action.

Atkinson helps Blue Jackets fan get a puppy
Cam Newton isn’t the only Cam who knows how to make a fan feel special.

A young Columbus Blue Jackets fan brought a sign to Monday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, claiming that her father would buy her a dog if forward Cam Atkinson scored on her birthday.

And boy did Atkinson come through, recording his third career NHL hat trick on Monday night.

“Yeah, I saw the sign, absolutely,” Atkinson told The Columbus Dispatch after the game. “I just hope that girl names the dog after me.”

Brassard goes off
New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard went into the all-star break in style.

Brassard recorded two goals and three assists, to help lift the Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres.

“We knew it was only a matter of time,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said (via”It’s great to see him break through here before the break and obviously get some confidence back in his game.”

Impressively, it’s not the first time Brassard has recorded a five-point game, doing so in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final last season against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Red Wings killin’ it on the road
The Detroit Red Wings aren’t getting much national attention, but they have quietly improved over the past month.

After beating the New York Islanders on Monday, the team extended their record to 7-3-1 in the month of January.

Most impressive: All seven of those wins came on the road.

The seven road wins match a franchise record for the most in one calendar month, according to NHL Public Relations, and the club hasn’t matched that mark since the 2010-11 season.

Not bad, huh?

Frustration growing for Canadiens
After a dream start, the Canadiens’ season has turned into a nightmare.

Sportsnet’s Eric Engels wrote a column on the team’s recent identity issues and it’s hard to imagine confidence growing in the locker room after dropping a 5-2 loss to the last-place Blue Jackets.

The team looks uneasy across the board and that much couldn’t have been more evident when P.K. Subban scored a goal from just past centre ice. Rather than celebrating, he shoved Brandon Dubinsky and was sent to the box for an unsportsmanlike penalty.

“I was just trying to get my team going, but I got to keep my emotions in check. There’s no need for me to touch him there,” Subban told reporters following the game.

Panthers set up for sustainability
I’m not just writing this because I just got back from a vacation in Florida.

This is very real.

Prior to Monday’s games, the Panthers reportedly agreed to a six-year contract extension with forward Aleksander Barkov. Barkov’s deal will apparently come with an average annual value of $5.9 million, which is fantastic value for one of the best young forwards in the Eastern Conference.

Looking deeper into Florida’s salary situation, the team is set up beautifully with forward Nick Bjugstad already locked in for a very fair cost and Aaron Ekblad still on his rookie deal for at least one more season and Brian Campbell‘s bloated salary coming off the books at the end of 2015-16.

If only they could find a taker for Dave Bolland.

All jokes aside, that is some excellent work done by Panthers GM Dale Tallon.

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