Ranking the Top 10 Highlights in Week 11 of the 2013-14 NHL Season
As the 2013-14 NHL season enters its third month, about one-third of the games are now complete.
Stars are making their statements, while upstarts work their way into conversations and highlight packages around the league.
Week 11 was big for multi-goal outbursts and goaltending heroics, but will likely be best remembered for an ugly incident on Saturday.
From the worst of the NHL to the best, here's a look at our top 10 highlights of the week gone by.
10. Shawn Thornton Attacks Brooks Orpik
This incident is more of a lowlight than a highlight, but it's big news. It warrants a mention, but I'll rank it No. 10.
The December 7 game between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins spun out of control early. Just 11 minutes, six seconds into the first period, Pittsburgh's James Neal kneed Boston's Brad Marchand in the head while he was down on the ice after a collision with Sidney Crosby.
In the scrum after the penalty call, Boston's Shawn Thornton pulled the Penguins' Brooks Orpik out of the crowd, slew-footed him to the ice, then hit him while we was down. Thornton's actions were intended to avenge a hit by Orpik during the opening shift that knocked Boston's Loui Eriksson out of the game. In this case, frontier justice went way too far.
Status updates on the key characters from the melee: Marchand's not hurt. Eriksson has his second concussion in five weeks. Orpik has been placed on injured reserve with a concussion of his own, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Neal has been suspended for five games, per Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston. Thornton's disciplinary hearing is still to come.
In a separate incident from the same game, Boston's Chris Kelly suffered a broken fibula from a slash by Pascal Dupuis that went unpenalized.
Thankfully, the Penguins and Bruins have now completed their three-game regular-season series, which should allow some time for the dust to settle.
9. Mike Santorelli Helps Canucks Back into Playoff Contention
The Vancouver Canucks signed local boy Mike Santorelli to a one-year, two-way contract for the league minimum last summer, hoping he'd be a useful utility player for their AHL team in Utica.
The versatile forward has blown those expectations out of the water. Santorelli sits fourth in Canucks team scoring with 21 points in 32 games. He scored two goals and added an assist against the Colorado Avalanche on December 8. His first goal came against the flow of the play in the first period—a sweet deke that's featured in the highlight above.
Santorelli is currently thriving on Vancouver's second line alongside Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins. The Canucks wrapped up Week 11 with their fourth straight win and a claim on eighth place in the competitive Western Conference.
8. Tomas Tatar Takes Advantage of Bad Call Against Cory Schneider
Cory Schneider is cursed. All season long, he's delivered solid goaltending for a New Jersey Devils team that can't seem to score in front of him.
On December 6, the Devils managed only 11 shots on goal in their entire game against the Detroit Red Wings. Then, with his team down by just one goal late in the third period, Schneider was whistled—incorrectly—for playing the puck outside the trapezoid behind the net.
Wings rookie Tomas Tatar didn't care if the call was right or wrong. The 23-year-old took just five seconds to capitalize on the power play and ice the win for the Wings by a score of 3-1.
7. Jeff Skinner Scores Hat Trick Against Nashville Predators
The Carolina Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner was awarded the NHL's first star honor for Week 11. His team went 3-0-0 as Skinner tallied six points, including this hat trick against the Nashville Predators on December 5.
Skinner's outburst allowed Carolina to bounce back from a 2-1 deficit against the Preds, taking control of the game and grabbing the win.
The hat trick was the first of his career for the 21-year-old left-winger, already playing in his fourth NHL season. Skinner is currently on pace to match his best year to date: In his Calder Trophy-winning rookie campaign, he put up 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points.
6. Curtis McElhinney Provides Perfect Relief
On December 3, the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets were protecting a 1-0 lead in the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning when starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky went down with a groin strain.
Backup Curtis McElhinney stepped in, making eight saves over the final 15:47 to preserve the win.
McElhinney didn't officially share the shutout against the Lightning, but went one better in the Jackets' next game against the Minnesota Wild. This time, he earned the entire thing himself. The Jackets recorded a 3-0 victory and their first back-to-back goose eggs since 2010.
After two years out of the NHL, McElhinney has been a great story this year, posting a .932 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average in nine games to date. He'll be needed to carry the load for the Jackets with Bobrovsky expected to be sidelined for about a month.
5. Taylor Hall Gets Hat Trick as Oilers Break Out Against Avalanche
The Edmonton Oilers have shifted gears from "awful" to "inconsistent" over the past month. Even with their improved play, a blowout win over the improved Colorado Avalanche on December 5 came as quite a surprise.
Taylor Hall provided the bookends for the night. He scored two goals in the first period, then picked up his hat trick on an empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining. He also added one assist.
Despite the lopsided score, the Avs had their chances. They outshot the Oilers in every period but went 0-of-6 on the power play, while Edmonton was 3-of-7 with the man advantage.
On this night, much-maligned Oilers starter Devan Dubnyk outdueled Avs star Semyon Varlamov. Dubnyk made 33 saves to preserve the win for his team, while Varlamov stopped just 20 of 28 Edmonton shots.
Taylor Hall was awarded the NHL's second star of the week after going 4-2-6 over three games.
4. Sidney Crosby Scores Overtime Winner Against New York Islanders
Goal of the week—who else?
Sidney Crosby showed his stuff against the New York Islanders on December 3.
After falling behind 2-0, the Penguins got on the board late in the second period with a James Neal power-play goal, then Crosby went to work.
He tied the game with the man advantage eight minutes into the third, then went one-on-three at 3:44 of overtime to secure the victory for Pittsburgh.
After 11 weeks of NHL play, Crosby sits comfortably atop the NHL scoring race with 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points in 31 games.
3. Carey Price Leads the Way for the Habs
The Montreal Canadiens are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and have climbed to within a point of the lead in the NHL's Eastern Conference.
Much of the team's success has been built on the solid foundation provided by goaltender Carey Price. Price now boasts a 1.95 goals-against and .938 save percentage and has allowed more than two goals in regulation just once in the last month.
Sometimes you have to be lucky to be good. This highlight shows a great save by Price in Montreal's December 2 game against the New Jersey Devils. The stop kept the game tied at two, allowing Alex Galchenyuk to score the winner midway through the third.
2. Tyler Seguin Scores Natural Hat Trick
Tyler Seguin has been on a tear since being acquired during the summer by the Dallas Stars.
On the afternoon of December 7, Seguin added another line item to his resume when he scored three consecutive goals over a span of 17:04 in the second period of the Stars game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Seguin couldn't have picked a better day to notch his second hat trick of the season. Free promotional hats had been given out to fans at American Airlines Center, so everyone had something to contribute to the celebration.
Seguin now has 15 goals so far this season and is keeping pace with the league's top 10 scorers.
1. Martin Jones Sets Shootout Save Record in NHL Debut
Ben Scrivens has impressed in net for the Los Angeles Kings since starter Jonathan Quick went down with a groin injury. On December 3, rookie Martin Jones showed that he can handle his share of the load.
In his NHL debut, Jones set a record by stopping nine consecutive shots in the shootout to give his Kings a 3-2 win over their archrival, the Anaheim Ducks.
Jones also impressed in his second start, recording a 3-0 shutout over the New York Islanders on December 7.
Signed by the Kings as a free agent in 2008, 23-year-old Jones spent the last three years with the AHL Manchester Monarchs. He's making the most of his first opportunity on the NHL stage.
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