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Watch: Landeskog pots hat trick vs. league-leading Lightning

Three from the captain.

Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog potted three goals versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, including a pair in the final frame.

It marks the second career hat trick for Landeskog, and the second in as many months, as he notched his first in November against the Washington Capitals.

Landeskog improved to 10 goals and nine assists in 27 games this season. His performance Saturday wasn't enough, however, as the Avalanche clawed back from a 4-0 deficit but ultimately lost 6-5.

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Blues’ Hutton sets franchise record with shutout vs. Jets

Carter Hutton has a spot in the record books.

The St. Louis Blues goaltender denied all 48 shots fired his way Saturday by the Winnipeg Jets, and in doing so notched a franchise record for the most saves in a shutout.

The mark was previously held by Chris Mason, who made 47 saves to blank the Nashville Predators in November 2008.

Saturday's performance improved Hutton's already impressive stat line this season. He now has a mind-boggling .949 save percentage and 1.63 goals-against average in nine appearances.

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Views from NHL 100 Classic in Ottawa

The actual game wasn't exactly one for the ages, but that didn't stop the NHL 100 Classic between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens from producing some memorable images.

Here are a few awesome pictures from Saturday's outdoor game:

Tomas Plekanec pondering pregame.

Craig Anderson stood tall to earn the 3-0 shutout.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman converse while taking in the action.

A pregame ritual is a pregame ritual, regardless of the setting.

Ice-mist shower courtesy of Max Pacioretty and Fredrik Claesson.

The players came prepared in head-to-toe winter gear, shown off here by Erik Karlsson.

Canadians: Always game for a little puck, regardless of the temperature.

Carey Price made 24 saves in a losing cause for the Canadiens.

A perk of watching hockey in minus-10 degree weather, your beer stays frosty all game long.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Anderson becomes 4th goalie to record shutout in outdoor game

Craig Anderson was unbeatable.

The Ottawa Senators netminder turned aside all 28 shots that came his way in Saturday's NHL 100 Classic against the Montreal Canadiens.

In doing so, Anderson became the fourth goaltender to record a shutout when the NHL has taken it outdoors, joining the likes of Miikka Kiprusoff, Jonas Hiller, and Cam Talbot.

Goalie Game Opponent Saves
Kiprusoff 2011 Heritage Classic Canadiens 39
Hiller 2014 Stadium Series Kings 36
Talbot 2016 Heritage Classic Jets 31

It was a big victory for Anderson, who entered Saturday's contest with a 3.05 goals-against average and .897 save percentage.

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Anderson becomes 4th goalie to record shutout in outdoor game

Craig Anderson was unbeatable.

The Ottawa Senators netminder turned aside all 28 shots that came his way in Saturday's NHL 100 Classic against the Montreal Canadiens.

In doing so, Anderson became the fourth goaltender to record a shutout when the NHL has taken it outdoors, joining the likes of Miikka Kiprusoff, Jonas Hiller, and Cam Talbot.

Goalie Game Opponent Saves
Kiprusoff 2011 Heritage Classic Canadiens 39
Hiller 2014 Stadium Series Kings 36
Talbot 2016 Heritage Classic Jets 31

It was a big victory for Anderson, who entered Saturday's contest with a 3.05 goals-against average and .897 save percentage.

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Lemieux wins ‘Greatest NHL Moments’ fan vote for 5-goal game

Notching five goals in a single game is impressive enough, but Mario Lemieux's performance was extra special.

Lemieux's five-goal game from New Year's Eve in December 1988 against the New Jersey Devils was voted by fans as the NHL's greatest moment. Super Mario, after all, scored each of his goals in a distinct situation.

That evening, No. 66 scored on the power play, at five-on-five, shorthanded, on a penalty shot, and on an empty net.

The league made the announcement from center ice at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa as part of Saturday's NHL 100 Classic celebrations.

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Senators fans get #MelnykOut trending during NHL 100 Classic

Fans of the Ottawa Senators were united Saturday.

While supporters have often disagreed as to whether the team should play in its current arena in suburban Kanata or in downtown Ottawa, they're currently on the same page about at least one topic: the future plans of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk.

Melnyk denied speculation Friday that he wants to sell the franchise, but left open the possibility of relocating to another city if fans don't turn out in better numbers.

Those statements didn't sit well with the Senators faithful, who successfully got the hashtag #MelnykOut trending on Twitter in Canada as the team played the NHL 100 Classic outdoors in Ottawa.

The team's struggled to draw fans in recent months, with poor attendance during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs run and a less-than-full home opener this season.

It was a different story Saturday night, as they played the Montreal Canadiens in front of a fuller crowd at Ottawa's TD Place Stadium.

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Daly: Senators’ lagging attendance is head-scratching

Not even NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has an explanation for the alarming lack of enthusiasm about the Senators in Ottawa.

The Senators struggled to fill the Canadian Tire Centre during last year's playoff run and that trend has flowed into this season. Ottawa ranks 25th in average attendance, and last among Canadian-based teams, according to ESPN.

Those figures have left owner Eugene Melnyk dumbfounded, a feeling Daly echoed on Saturday.

"You kind of scratch your head as to why attendance wasn't an issue when the team was competing for conference championships every year in the early 2000s," Daly told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

"From my perspective, it's a head-shaker that this team isn't doing better from an attendance standpoint and a fan's standpoint ... This is a very competitive team in a hockey market and it's not something we've experienced in Canada in probably 20 years."

Earlier this season, the Senators covered over 1,500 seats in the Canadian Tire Centre to make it easier to reach capacity.

There is widespread belief that a move from suburban Kanata to downtown Ottawa will boost turnout at the gate.

Ottawa is continuing efforts to build a new arena in the city's downtown core. Negotiations are ongoing with the National Capital Commission for the right to build at LeBreton Flats, a neighborhood situated minutes from Parliament Hill.

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Leafs’ offensive struggles can be pinned on Babcock, not Matthews’ absence

Mike Babcock is one of the most decorated coaches in the history of the NHL, but for the first time in his stint as the Maple Leafs' bench boss, he's over-coaching.

Toronto's once unstoppable offense has come to a screeching halt in the month of December, with the last four games evidently the low point. During this four-game stretch - all of which have been without the injured Auston Matthews - the Leafs are 1-3 and have scored just four times.

While it's reasonable to expect any team to struggle without their best player - especially when the player is one of the league's best - Matthews' absence isn't the main reason the offense has gone ice cold - Babcock is.

Babcock, like many great coaches, is a former defenseman and has always wanted his teams to prioritize goal prevention first and foremost. But, with a youthful group filled with speed and skill up front and some holes in the back end, the Leafs haven't always played to his liking - even when they've had success.

Over the last four games, Babcock has seemingly pulled out all the stops to get the Leafs to play as defensively as possible, and it's not working. That's not their identity.

For example, the Leafs held a 2-1 lead over the Flyers heading into the third period Tuesday night. Instead of trying to keep the pressure and build on their lead, Babcock had the Leafs sit back, clog the neutral zone, and simply try to "hang on" for 20 minutes. It did not work, as they wound up losing 4-2 and were outplayed in the final frame.

Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but the Leafs have more than enough speed and skill up front to apply pressure with the lead and hem an opponent in their own end for the bulk of a period.

Over the last four games, the team's ability to generate scoring chances has drastically tailed off:

SCF = Scoring Chances For
HDSCF = High-Danger Scoring Chances For

Stat (5-on-5) Season Last 4 games
SCF per game 24.41 18
HDSCF per game 9.17 5.75

As you can see, they're generating 6.41 less scoring chances for per game, and 3.42 less of the high-danger variety.

SCA = Scoring Chances Against
HDSCA = High-Danger Scoring Chances Against

Stat (5-on-5) Season Last 4 games
SCA per game 22.08 22
HDSCA per game 8.11 7.5

Even with the defensive mindset, the Buds are still allowing practically the same amount of scoring chances per game.

To make matters worse, Babcock's effort to prioritize defense has gone hand-in-hand with some questionable ice-time distribution. Here's a look at the ice time from their top-nine forwards in the last four games:

Player ATOI (last 4 games)
Leo Komarov 18:59
Nazem Kadri 18:08
Patrick Marleau 17:36
Zach Hyman 16:53
Mitch Marner 16:53
William Nylander 16:10
Tyler Bozak 16:09
Connor Brown 15:06
James van Riemsdyk 15:01

Leo Komarov is an effective bottom-six checker and a good penalty killer, but he has just one goal and two assists (both secondary) at five-on-five this year. With an even amount of penalties taken and penalties drawn by the team during this stretch, Komarov leading the forwards in ice time is inexcusable.

Meanwhile, phenoms Mitch Marner and William Nylander have played significantly less than Komarov. This doesn't even include Nylander's 8:39-minute night against Pittsburgh, which occurred one game before this sample of data.

It's also worth questioning why van Riemsdyk - the team's leader in goals with 15 - is playing the least amount of minutes among their top-nine forwards.

In order to get the Leafs back on track and keep the team afloat for however long Matthews is out, Babcock needs to give his skilled players more opportunity and freedom to create offense. Sometimes less is more. Less X's and O's, and more "letting the players play" would go a long way in helping the Leafs bust out of this mini-funk they've gotten themselves into.

(Advanced stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick)

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Maple Leafs 1st-rounder Liljegren loaned to Sweden for world juniors

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Timothy Liljegren has been loaned to Sweden for the World Junior Championship, the Toronto Marlies announced Saturday.

Liljegren was plucked by the Maple Leafs with the 17th overall pick in last June's draft and is having a respectable first season in North America, having tallied nine points in 17 games with the Leafs' AHL affiliate.

The 18-year-old will make his world juniors debut, but is no stranger to representing his native Sweden, having suited up at the under-18, under-17, and under-16 tournaments over the last three years.

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