You really can’t draw too many “big picture” conclusions after only two regular season games, but the Pittsburgh Penguins might have at least a little cause for concern.
The team went ahead 2-1 in the middle of third period thanks to a nice goal by young forward Mark Letestu and it looked like they might get a little revenge (and their first regular season win in their new building, the Consol Energy Center). That was not to be, however, as the Montreal Canadiens scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in rapid succession, as Jeff Halpern scored on a deflection before Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury allowed a soft one against Scott Gomez.
In less than 30 seconds, the Penguins went from winning a grinding game against the team that knocked them out of last season’s playoffs to opening their new building 0-2 with zero points.
Of course, it’s unfair to be too negative to the Penguins because they lost to a determined team in Montreal. Carey Price was probably the star of the game, stopping 36 out of 38 shots as Pittsburgh peppered the net much like they did against Jaroslav Halak in their seven game series. P.K. Subban received a hail of boos every time he touched the puck and with good reason: he got under Crosby’s skin with regularity.
It’s not all bad news for Pittsburgh. Their defense seemed fast and efficient as Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek already seem nicely integrated into a deep group. Sidney Crosby picked up the primary assist on Evgeni Malkin’s first goal, so their two stars are back on the scoresheet.
Perhaps the critiques regarding their lack of high-end wingers is right, though. They certainly didn’t lack aggressiveness in taking shots or bring defensemen in deep, but all too often it seemed like Malkin and Crosby were setting up fruitful chances that ended up fruitless.
Again, it’s far too early to panic in Pittsburgh, but an 0-2 start at home is disappointing to say the least.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”