NHL Scores And More: Tim Gleason Punches Nikolai Kulemin; 'Fight' Overshadows Carolina Win

Tim Gleason's punch of Nikolai Kulemin has people talking this morning. Elsewhere, the Canucks crushed Dallas, Jonathan Quick one-upped Tim Thomas and the Rangers pulled out a shootout win in Washington.

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Maple Leafs Vs. Hurricanes: Tim Gleason Punches Out Nikolai Kulemin As 'Fight' Overshadows Carolina Win

When you think Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs hockey, the first image that pops into your mind probably has something to do with Paul Maurice, who's coached both teams. It's likely not a bunch of ridiculous fights. 

Last night in Raleigh, where they're preparing for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, the teams combined for 57 penalty minutes, an ejection, and a controversial goal call.

Nine of those penalty minutes came on a "fight" between Toronto's Nikolai Kulemin and Carolina's Tim Gleason. Gleason's a tough guy, known for his bruising hits and his skill as a shutdown defenseman. Kulemin's a soft, smallish forward who's never experience an NHL fight before. It was weird, then, that Kulemin decided to mix it up with Gleason at the end of the first period.

The result? A broken nose and a whole lot of regret. 

Kulemin got a roughing penalty on the play while Gleason picked up a fighting major, a roughing minor and a game misconduct. Some are going to get on Gleason's case for dropping Kulemin like that, but how would you feel if a guy was hitting you in the face? Don't disturb the snake if you can't handle the bite, right?

Oh, and the Hurricanes won the game, 6-4. 

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Rangers Vs. Capitals: New York's 2-1 Shootout Win Keeps Them Afloat In Eastern Race

The Rangers have been beaten to a pulp lately, with Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Christensen, and Alex Frolov (among others) sitting in the owner's suite with injuries. Some, like Frolov, are out for the year, while some, like Dubinsky, are due back in a few weeks. Still, the Rangers are without these players, and as a result, they've lost three of their last five and are flirting with eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. 

The Washington Capitals, meanwhile, have already hit their rough patch this season, as the narrative would dictate. They've faced their adversity, they've come out of it, and now they're ready to take their spot on top of the Southeast Division. Point-getters in their last five games, it's only a matter of time before the Caps bump Tampa out of that spot. 

These are the descriptions of these two teams before they faced off against each other last night at Verizon Center. You'd think, based off of these results, that the Capitals would be able to pull out a win. After all, they rarely lose on home ice. 

But the hockey God's seemed to be on the Rangers' side last night, as evidenced by Marian Gaborik's third period goal that tied the game at 1-1.

Artem Anisimov would score the game winner in the shootout, helped along by Wojtek Wolski's absolute beauty earlier in the penalty shot contest. The Rangers skated away with two much needed points, while the Capitals fell even further behind the division-leading Lightning. In fact, the Rangers are now just two points behind Washington in the race for the fifth spot in the conference.

  • Over at Japers' Rink, a new contributor to the site thinks Versus will think twice before putting the defensive show that was last night's matchup on the national airwaves again.
  • At Blueshirt Banter, they're starting to believe that there's no obstacle too large for this Rangers team to overcome.
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Stars Vs. Canucks: Vancouver Asserts Dominance By Blasting Dallas, 7-1

It was billed as a matchup of two of the West's best clubs, the pace-setting Vancouver Canucks and the surprising Dallas Stars. By the end of the night, the Canucks would vault themselves to a tie for the NHL's best record, while the Stars would be left with a missed opportunity to put themselves in the category of the league's elite. 

The Stars did come out firing, but that didn't matter much when Alex Burrows ripped a slap shot from the point that cleanly beat Kari Lehtonen. It was the Canucks first shot, the Canucks first goal, and alas, the Canucks first step to a blowout win. 

Dallas tied the game several minutes later on a Brad Richards backhander, but that would be short-lived as well. Ironically, the Stars penalty killing had killed 24 of their last 26 penalties, but two stick fouls just about a minute apart led to two Vancouver power play goals. The Canucks never looked back, adding four more goals after that as they rolled to a 7-1 romp.

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Bruins Vs. Kings: Jonathan Quick Gets The Best Of Tim Thomas In L.A. Goalie Duel

The Boston Bruins have elevated themselves into the elite of the Eastern Conference in recent weeks, so perhaps the Los Angeles Kings can put some stock in shutting them out on Monday night by a final score of 2-0. The Kings, who have fallen off the map in the West over that same time period, have now won two straight.

This one was a goalie battle, plain and simple. Tim Thomas has to be considered the leader for the Vezina Trophy at this point with the way he's played, but on this L.A. night, his 2010 Olympic teammate, Jonathan Quick, was just a bit better.

Without Thomas, the Kings probably would have won this one a bit easier, but that's one of the reasons why the Bruins are so scary. With such solid goaltending, you're usually never out of the game. 

The night was really about Quick, though. He made 34 saves to preserve the win, and while we tried to pick one magnificent one out of the crowd, the truth is that most of them were just routine, not-flashy and simple. 

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Predators Vs. Flames: Special Teams Kill Nashville As Calgary Extends Winning Streak

Believe it or not, the Calgary Flames are just four points out of the Western Conference playoffs. That's either a sign that the West is just insane this year, or it's a sign that the Flames three-game win streak is a bit more than a fluke. 

The Flames took down a solid foe again, too. Last time they were busy beating yes, Dallas and Vancouver, while last night they made the Nashville Predators their victims. Final score: 3-1. The Preds had won three-straight of their own and had only lost two other times in the month of January.

Calgary did it with special teams play. Two power play goals, helped by a lack of discipline by Nashville, powered the Flames in this one. It also helped that the Predators seemingly couldn't score if their life depended it on their own power play opportunities, of which they had five in the game.

Curtis Glencross, Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison scored for Calgary. 

  • While the special teams were a point of concern for Nashville, it's hard to be too concerned when the team has lost so rarely this month, writes On the Forecheck.
  • The Flames? Winning? Matchsticks & Gasoline says these are backward times we're living in.
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Blues Vs. Avalanche: Brandon Yip's Pair Helps Colorado Bounce Back, Hold On To 2-1 Win

Maybe bag skates do work. The timeless hockey tradition of grueling practices without pucks was what the struggling Colorado Avalanche encountered at practice over the weekend, and as a result, a Monday night come-from-behind win was in the cards. 

Brandon Yip opened the scoring for the Avs in the second period, but two goals shortly after gave the Blues a 2-1 lead. Yip would tie things back up on the power play toward the end of the middle period, and two Colorado goals 44 seconds apart in the third period seemed to seal the deal for the Avs. 

But the Blues fought back late, with help from a missed empty net by Colorado. Off that missed opportunity, the Blues turned up ice. Once at the other end, a rebound chance found its way to the stick of David Backes, who buried it in the back of the net with 1:27 remaining.

St. Louis kept the pressure on, but in the end, it wasn't enough to finish off their own comeback attempt as Colorado took the 4-3 win.

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