Joel Ward, David Legwand

Nightly recap: Chicago and Pittsburgh remain winless at home, Tampa Bay steals one from Montreal

Well, tonight was certainly an odd night of hockey. To steal a phrase from professional wrestling, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators “hooked the tights” to shock their opponents late in games while the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins apparently haven’t seen those Under Armour “must protect this house” commercials (they are a collective 0-5 at home so far this season).

Anyway, obscure goofy sports clothing commercial references aside, let’s take a look at the first five games today (we’ll take a look at Vancouver at Anaheim later tonight or early tomorrow).

Washington 2, NY Islanders 1

Eh, same old, same old. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom starred for Washington (each player notched one goal and one assist) while the Capitals beat the Islanders. Ho hum, right?

Well, it wasn’t all old hat. For one thing, there was a first: Nino Niederreiter – the youngest player in the NHL – scored his first career goal in this one. It also happened to be a low-scoring, low-shot affair as Michal Neuvirth (23 out of 24 saves) slightly edged Dwayne Roloson (24 out of 26 saves). Sure, it ended with the Capitals taking two points and the Islanders leaving with zero, but it wasn’t the blowout many expected.

New Jersey 1, Buffalo 0 (OT)

Read all about Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller’s impressive performances by clicking here.

Toronto 4, Pittsburgh 3

I’ve heard about sports teams struggling to get acclimated to their new digs, but jeez, Pittsburgh is really taking that one far. They’re now winless in three games, but even worse, they didn’t even gain consolation points by losing during overtime or in shootouts. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs are now 3-0 and it’s not just against cream puffs, either.

Unless, um, the Penguins turn out to be cream puffs this season. Yikes.

Tampa Bay 4, Montreal 3 (OT)

The Canadiens looked like they were poised to take this one until Steve Stamkos scored a power-play goal with just a little more than a minute left in the third period to send this one to overtime. Ryan Malone then sent Montreal fans home shocked as he scored an opportunistic goal in overtime, adding a game-winner to his two secondary assists. (It seems like the move to No. 6 is going well for Malone.)

Carey Price is the last person to blame for this, as his regular season has been the polar opposite of his horrid preseason so far. He made 44 out of 48 saves in this one while Mike Smith had a much easier workload, stopping 24 out of 27.

Nashville 3, Chicago 2

The Nashville Predators won this one seemingly out of nowhere, in a way that would make Ric Flair proud (if he was involved in anything but the occasional Carolina Hurricanes game). Joel Ward scored a game-winning power-play goal with only 27 seconds left in the game as Nashville continue to be a difficult foe to deal with for Chicago.

Scroll Down For:

    Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

    18 Comments

    Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

    (Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

    You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

    Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

    Letang told his side of the story:

    The Capitals disagree:

    While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

    No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

    Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

    22 Comments

    If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

    The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

    (Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

    Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

    A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

    First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

    Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

    Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

    In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

    This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

    Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

    22 Comments

    It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

    (You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

    There are a few things we do know already.

    For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

    Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

    In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

    There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

    Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

    99 Comments

    Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

    ***

    As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

    Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

    Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

    Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

    Things could get ugly in Game 3:

    One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

    Also, lateness of the check:

    The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

    Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

    Read reactions to the check here.