The Columbus Blue Jackets had to wait a couple of months to see their big free agent addition, Nathan Horton, in action as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery.
He was worth the wait.
On Thursday the Blue Jackets improved to 9-1-0 with Horton in the lineup and pushed their current winning streak to a franchise-record eight games with a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Horton scored yet another goal in the win, giving him four in his first 10 games with the team, to help lead the charge. With their win Columbus jumps up to the third spot in the Metropolitan Division and still has two games in hand on the Flyers in the playoff race.
Columbus has outscored its opponents, 34-17, during its current winning streak. Safe to say that few people saw this coming from this Blue Jackets team.
Elsewhere on Thursday the Penguins and Islanders played yet another wild game as Pittsburgh erased an earl 2-0 deficit to earn a 6-4 win.
Jeff Skinner continued his torrid scoring pace with a beautiful goal for the Hurricanes in Buffalo, Alex Steen scored his 26th goal of the season for the Blues in a 2-1 win in New York, and Darcy Kuemper was the start of the night for the Minnesota Wild even though he had to do most of it while wearing Niklas Backstrom's mask.
All the NHL Scores
Hurricanes 5, Sabres 3
Blues 2, Rangers 1
Blue Jackets 5, Flyers 2
Lightning 4, Senators 3
Penguins 6, Islanders 4
Wild 2, Blackhawks 1
Stars 7, Maple Leafs 1
Predators 2, Canucks 1
Ducks 2, Kings 1
Sharks 1, Jets 0
On Thursday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. Will the Blue Jackets catch the Flyers in the standings?
They did thanks to the aforementioned 5-2 win. Columbus is now tied with Philadelphia with 56 points but moved ahead of the Flyers thanks to having more regulation and overtime wins. The Blue Jackets also still have two games in hand.
2. Will it be lucky No. 7 for the Maple Leafs?
Well, there was a seven involved, but it wasn't for the Maple Leafs extending their winning streak. It was for the number of goals they allowed to the Stars in a 7-1 loss. Not even Justin Bieber was escaping the beat down in Dallas.
3. Will the Ducks bounce back from their first home loss in regulation?
Oh yeah, and don't let the 2-1 final score fool you. This was one of the most entertaining games of the night as Ducks goalie Frederick Anderson stopped 30 shots to hold off the Kings. Dustin Penner and Patrick Maroon added the offense for Anaheim to overcome an early goal by the Kings' Anze Kopitar. The Ducks are now 21-1-2 on home ice this season. That is the best mark in the NHL this season. These two teams meet again this weekend in the first Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
4. How will Michael Del Zotto perform in his Predators debut?
He played a little more than 13 minutes and had a pretty quiet night, which is probably what you want from Del Zotto at this point. If nothing else, that means he didn't make any major mistakes, which became his calling card in New York over the past year.
5. Will the Jets remain perfect under Paul Maurice?
They did not. Joe Pavelski's 28th goal of the season was all the offense San Jose needed -- and all the offense San Jose would receive -- in a 1-0 win over the Jets, handing Paul Maurice his first loss in five games behind the Winnipeg bench. San Jose goalie Alex Stalock stopped all 20 shots he faced for the shutout.
The one play or moment from Thursday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Does Olli Maatta have a chance to win the Calder Trophy this season as the NHL rookie of the year? If he does, it's going to be because of plays like the one he made on Thursday night against the Islanders when he swooped in through the middle of the Islanders' defense and scored this beautiful goal to give his team a 3-2 lead. They went on to win 6-4 after overcoming an early 2-0 deficit.
Nineteen-year-old defensemen aren't supposed to be this good, this fast.
Stat of the Night
Erik Karlsson is tremendous. He played 34:45 for the Senators on Thursday, scoring a goal, adding an assist, recording five shots on goal and attempting five more (three were blocked, two missed the net). During his even-strength ice-time the Senators attempted 37 shots and allowed just 16. That's a dominating performance. Unfortunately for Ottawa it wasn't enough to get the extra point as the Senators fell in a shootout, 4-3.
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