A Day in the NHL: Thursday December 16

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If last night was brought to you by a number in the NHL, then that number was three. Four players scored three goals in a game, and three of them did it for the first time. Seven final scores featured a “three” in them, while 12 of 22 teams scored at least three goals. It was a pretty busy night.

The Night that Was:

Ryan Kesler had his first career hat-trick last night as the Vancouver Canucks rid themselves of the pesky Blue Jackets. Columbus came back both times to tie the game at two before Kesler put them away in overtime. Kesler was the only player in the game to record multiple points as Roberto Luongo stopped 28 of 30 shots for the win. Mathieu Garon was the hard-luck loser, posting his second-straight overtime loss.

The words “New Jersey Devils”, “win”, “Martin Brodeur”, “shutout”, “Ilya Kovalchuk”, and “two goals” haven’t been said in the same sentence very often, unless it’s “The New Jersey Devils gave up two goals in an opponents win as Martin Brodeur took the loss and Ilya Kovalchuk was shutout”. All of those things happened for the Devils last night though. Kovalchuk had his sixth and seventh goals of the year while Brodeur made 29 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Devils blanked the Phoenix Coyotes. Along with that, Travis Zajac and Patrick Elias had two assists, Elias’ fifth game with points in the last six.

Nik Lidstrom has done a whole lot of things during his NHL career. You can now add “scoring a hat-trick” to the list. Ranking amongst the most 2-goal games in NHL history without turning the trick, the Wings’ Captain did just that last night against the St. Louis Blues. And if that wasn’t enough, he added an assist for good measure. He wasn’t the only one with four points though, as Henrik Zetterberg had four assists on the night for the Wings and Dan Cleary had a goal and two assists. The Wings are now five points up on their closest competition for the Western Conference crown.

The Nashville Predators kept their quiet win streak going with their fourth-straight last night. Jordin Tootoo, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Colin Wilson all scored goals in a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.Kostitsyn’s goal gave him points in seven straight, while Anders Lindback continued his stellar play in net, stopping 25 of 27 shots. For San Jose it was just more of the same from their offense: They’ve scored just two goals in each of their past three games.

And just so you know, there were a couple of other hat-tricks: Drew Stafford scored one in Buffalo’s 3-2 win over the Bruins, and Tomas Fleischmann had one as well in the Avalanche’s 4-3 win over the Blackhawks. With that, he’s already scored more goals (5) and just as many points (10) in a fraction of the games for the Avalanche (7) that he played with Washington (23).

What’s on Tonight?

Another heavy night with nine games taking place. Boston and Montreal square off in an Original Six matchup, while Toronto visits Calgary and Columbus meets up with Edmonton. Ottawa travels to Minnesota, while both the Islanders and Rangers are in action as well, hosting Anaheim and Phoenix. L.A. goes to St. Louis and San Jose is off to Dallas while Carolina visits Atlanta

The Injury Bug:

Ryan Callahan left last night’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins with a broken hand. He suffered the injury blocking a shot in the first period and will be out six weeks.

The St. Louis Blues may not be so eager to trade a defenseman now. With Alex Pietrangelo already hurting, Erik Johnson went down last night after twisting his right knee and didn’t return. Carlo Colaiacovo also crashed hard into the end boards, but he was able to shake that off.

There’s a strong possibility that Kari Lehtonen will play for the Dallas Stars on Thursday. He’s been sidelined by a sore back.

Also, if you’re hanging around any teams currently, be careful of catching that flu bug. It’s still making it’s rounds in the league.

Rumours and News Around the League:

Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman has had an “informational” chat with Evgeni Nabokov’s representatives. Nabokov would at least give the Lightning a goalie with starting experience and a history of success, as Mike Smith and Dan Ellis simply haven’t done the job.

The Overlooked Fantasy Line of the Night:

Neither Tuomo Ruutu nor James van Riemsdyk could finish things off and get the hat-trick as they each had two goals last night. Congrats to both though as they each got the game-winning goal for their team.