Around the Rink – Thursday, October 21

After a few easy-to-follow days of four or five games, the NHL returns to a more hectic schedule tonight. There are 11 games overall, so let’s take a quick look at them all. All start times are Eastern (ET).

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Toronto

The Maple Leafs are coming off their first loss of the season (in overtime against the Islanders), while the Rangers are steal dealing with injuries that occurred in the teams’ first game of the season. Mike Komisarek might just have something to say to Sean Avery, too.

Anaheim @ Philadelphia

The penalty box operator might get a workout tonight, as the two most heavily penalized teams in the NHL play tonight. Both are struggling a bit, too, so this will be a bounce back game for … someone.

Washington @ Boston

The Bruins took the first of the two team’s home-and-home series, so we’ll see if the Capitals can ruin Boston’s (ridiculously late) home opener.

7:30 pm

Calgary @ Detroit

The Red Wings and Flames are both playing well right now, so something will have to give. Detroit begins a four game homestand tonight.

NY Islanders @ Tampa Bay

Two of the league’s most resurgent teams meet in this one, with the 2008 No. 1 pick (Steve Stamkos) going up against the 2009 No. 1 pick (John Tavares). Should be an interesting contest.

New Jersey @ Montreal

Want to know how well the Devils have done against the Canadiens recently? Here’s this bit from the Associated Press preview.

The Devils have won seven of eight meetings against the Canadiens and are 16-4 against them since the start of the 2005-06 season. They have won four straight in Montreal with their last loss coming March 11, 2008.

Dallas @ Florida

Tomas Vokoun is on a two-game shutout streak, but if he can stop the Stars, then he’ll really be on to something.

8:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ Nashville

Last I heard, Marc-Andre Fleury will make his return to the Penguins net, but we’ll keep an eye on that one throughout the day. It’s surprising the team wouldn’t want to ride the hot hand, yet it’s also understandable that they don’t want Fleury to lose his confidence.

9:00 pm

San Jose @ Colorado

The Avalanche really gave the Sharks fits in the playoffs last season, and that was when San Jose had a more stable situation in net and on their blue line. Will the Sharks shake off the cobwebs or will the Avs continue their hot start?

9:30 pm

Minnesota @ Edmonton

This is the definition of a “homer” rivalry:

Although the Oilers are 0-12-2 at Minnesota since January 2007, they have won seven of eight at home over the Wild. Playing for the first time since losing 5-3 at Calgary on Saturday, Edmonton looks to even the season series after falling 4-2 at Minnesota in its road opener last Thursday.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Phoenix

The Kings will go into this one without defenseman Drew Doughty and might be a little bushed doing a back-to-back. While the Coyotes will be more rested, they’ll be without an important player too, as Shane Doan begins his three-game suspension tonight.

‘Like a 1988 Smythe Division game’ – Caps, Pens react to wild 8-7 game

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals collides into Brian Dumoulin #8 of the Pittsburgh Penguins after scoring a goal during the second period at Verizon Center on November 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It’s no surprise that Justin Williams, a player who earned the clutch nickname of “Mr. Game 7,” provided the money quote for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ wild 8-7 overtime win against the Washington Capitals.

“It snowballed too quickly for us,” Williams said, according to Caps’ website Dump n Chase. “All around, it was like a 1988 Smythe Division game out there, not something we want to do.”

Penguins-turned-Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen also echoed one of the points from the game’s recap, stating that the contest had “four of five turning points.”

You could probably spend hours pouring through all the oddball stats that sprouted up from this game.

While Williams and Niskanen provided some of the better quotes, most of the players were reduced to using the same word that, frankly, most of us were rolling out.

(Aside from those of us who were spouting expletives at perceived missed calls, particularly on the losing end.)

In admitting that he couldn’t explain the second period, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan probably described the entire game most accurately:

Either way, it was a lot of fun. Let’s do this in the playoffs, too, shall we?

/scans online for a budget defibrillator.

Video evidence that Mike Smith isn’t tanking

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The Arizona Coyotes are really bad, but you could argue that Mike Smith is why the Colorado Avalanche owns the NHL’s worst record instead.

He came into tonight’s eventual 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers with a sparkling .918 save percentage, and while he couldn’t save the Coyotes, he did rob of Jordan Eberle on what seemed like a sure goal.

Watch that great save in the video above, and maybe wonder if Smith didn’t get the memo about the whole “tanking” thing.

Penguins out-gun Capitals in absurd, controversial 8-7 OT thriller

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Leave it to number 87 to win an 8-7 hockey game.

Evgeni Malkin grabbed a hat trick during that patently absurd second period, yet it was Sidney Crosby who helped to create the overtime game-winner (credited to Conor Sheary) as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Washington Capitals on Monday night.

No doubt about it, there was some controversy, including on that clinching goal. And not just because the tally survived the review process:

MORE: Watch the full overtime here. Check this post out for additional information on that zany second period.

Regardless, the Penguins’ three-game losing streak ends (as does Washington’s nine-game winning run). The Caps at least got a standings point out of the deal, which seems pretty fair when you consider the fact that they scored a touchdown and extra point’s worth of goals in this one.

(Yes, there were NFL jokes on Twitter.)

Malkin’s hat trick goal and Crosby’s fourth point both demanded official reviews, but both also stood. Capitals fans are probably upset with this game, especially since you could make a legitimate argument that T.J. Oshie should’ve drawn … you, know, at least one penalty:

Instead, you could argue that Patric Hornqvist‘s hit on Oshie ended up being a turning point of the game in Pittsburgh’s favor, although you could also argue that even M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t keep up with all of the twists.

Roberto Luongo captured the mood of the three goalies involved (Braden Holtby got the hook after allowing five goals over a zany 8:09 span) and likely the coaches, too:

To recap, Malkin had that hat trick, Crosby scored a goal and three assists and Sheary generated a three-point night (two goals, one assist). Trevor Daley generated three assists while Justin Schultz did it one better with four.

Oshie collected a goal and two assists, Lars Eller generated two big goals and Alex Ovechkin chipped in two helpers of his own.

The goalie stats, were, well … (see that Luongo tweet).

***

Overall, it was a messy, unpredictable, staggering and sometimes controversial game.

Normally, one might say that this is just what you’d expect from a Capitals – Penguins contest. Can anyone really argue they expected this explosion, though?

Do yourself a favor and watch the highlights, as there were so many exciting moments and goals that it’s difficult to summarize them all in one recap. Heck, if you just watch the highlights of the night for Crosby and Malkin, you’re likely to be highly entertained.

If we’re treated to another contest between these teams in 2016-17, it will be in the playoffs. Plenty of hockey fans would love to see that, at least if their hearts can take it.

Just about everything happened in second period of Capitals – Penguins

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Update: The game only slightly slowed down after the second period, as the Penguins ultimately edged the Capitals 8-7 in overtime. Read all about it here.

This post goes into greater detail about the second period, which is worthwhile … because it was a brain-full.

***

Let’s just take a second to step back and rub our eyes in disbelief at this Washington Capitals – Pittsburgh Penguins game, particularly the just-passed second period.

Basically everything is happening.

Evgeni Malkin is now at 21 goals on the season as he generated a hat trick in the middle frame. That third goal will be highly – and understandably – contested thanks to possible goalie interference by Patric Hornqvist.

At his best, Hornqvist is in the thick of things, and that was certainly the case on Monday. Granted, this hit on T.J. Oshie was questionable:

Braden Holtby was chased from the Capitals net after the Penguins reeled off five goals in 8:09, which you can view here:

The Capitals brought a 2-0 lead into the second period and fattened it to 3-0. After that, the Penguins built a 5-3 lead with the flurry from above.

Brett Connolly made it 5-4 just 30 seconds after Malkin’s second goal, while Lars Eller tied it up at 5-5 about two minutes later.

That tie lasted … less than 30 seconds, as Malkin’s third tally made it 6-5 for the Penguins.

There’s a bunch of other stuff that happened, too, probably.

/catches breath

You can watch the rest of the game on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App. Here’s the livestream link.