Updated: December 23, 2013, 9:04 PM ET

Just A Thought

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: There haven't been many moments for the Buffalo Sabres or their fans to smile about this season, but both received an early Christmas gift Monday evening when the team earned a 2-1 overtime victory over the visiting Phoenix Coyotes, albeit in the unlikeliest of fashion. Mark Pysyk got credit for the winner (his first goal of the season) after his rebound attempt flipped high in the air in front of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith and Smith turned to locate the puck, allowing the puck to find its way down the back of his pants. When Smith retreated butt-first to his net, the hidden puck crossed the goal line and gave the Sabres a most unconventional win. They'll take it, of course. And know that while the standings night not reflect it (theyre still last in the NHL with 23 points), Buffalo has become appreciably harder to play against since Pat LaFontaine was brought in as head of hockey operations and repatriated head coach Ted Nolan was installed behind the bench. The Sabres are 4-1-2 in their past seven games. Happy holidays, everyone.


Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: I tell you what, if you combined the work ethic of the Calgary Flames with the talent level of the Edmonton Oilers, there could be one heck of a team in the province of Alberta. Was that bad? (Speaking of "bad" I watched "Bad Santa" the other night for like the 100th time, and it's easily my favorite holiday movie.) Anyway, I know the Flames aren't going anywhere this season, but I love how they refuse to roll over. There's a work ethic there that's impressive for a team with no chance of making the playoffs. That starts with head coach Bob Hartley, who instilled that mentality in camp. It also stems from captain Mark Giordano, whose never-say-die attitude rubs off on his teammates. It was Giordano who scored with 4.2 seconds left on a beauty of a one-timer to tie the Blues and force extra time, and the Flames then won in a shootout. Calgary came back to beat a powerhouse St. Louis team, which was leading 3-1 after two periods, and the emotion on the Flames bench after Giordano's tying goal tells me this team simply will not quit.


Katie Strang@KatieStrangESPN: I get what Dallas Eakins was trying to say. The colorful coach of the Edmonton Oilers made headlines Monday day when he called out a disgruntled fan for chucking a jersey onto the ice after yet another Oilers loss. Eakins was impassioned in denouncing the fan as a quitter and criticized him for disrespecting both the team and the organization. Here's the thing, though: If you're going to go wild about the sanctity of the sweater, you'd better hope your players understand that as well. And, quite frankly, the team's effort and commitment has certainly been lacking at times during this disappointing season. You might not like how the fan chose to display his disgust -- I don't, either -- but Oilers fans have endured enough agony to earn the right to vent their frustration.

Picture This

Corey PerryHarry E. Walker/MCT/Getty ImagesThe Ducks got their ninth straight win, but Corey Perry got lost on his way to Anaheim's bench.

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