Apparently the NHL celebrates Election Day by making sure that most of the teams from the United States have the night off so their fans can get out and vote. Isn’t that patriotic? Anyhow, here’s the change you can believe in from the NHL tonight.
The good news for the Leafs is that they broke their goalless streak that stretched over more than 160 minutes played. The bad news is, despite a spirited final few minutes of play, they looked pretty rough and the Sens pulled off the win. Oh, and Dion Phaneuf wasn’t just booed but he also left the game with a deep cut on his leg. The Leafs might want to knock off the penalties if they want to win. Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson scored on the power play, meanwhile Mike Fisher scored Ottawa’s first goal on a penalty shot. Brian Elliott made 33 saves in the win for Ottawa.
A bit of a baffler in Columbus as the Jackets started backup goalie Mathieu Garon and he ends up with a 29 save shutout over the Canadiens. Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Kyle Wilson each had a goal for the Blue Jackets as they were able to play perhaps their best game of the year. As for the Habs, well, at least Carey Price seemed motivated despite taking the loss. Tough to say that anyone else for Montreal really came out to play. That brand of inconsistency will make a fan pull their hair out.
It was Niklas Backstrom’s world and the San Jose Sharks just had to deal with living in it for the night. The Wild netminder stopped all 36 shots he saw while Andrew Brunette’s second period power play goal held up as the difference maker in the Minnesota win. The Sharks did all they could bringing the kind of offensive heat they did, but Backstrom was strong all game long. Meanwhile, Antero Niittymaki could’ve passed out from boredom making just 15 saves in the loss.
What started off looking like a trouncing for the Canucks over the Oilers turned into a tight game, but ultimately it was former Oiler Raffi Torres stealing the show. Torres notched a hat trick, including ultimately the game-winning goal in the third period after the Oilers stormed back from 3-0 down to tie the game in the third. Dustin Penner, Ryan Jones, and Gilbert Brule had Edmonton’s goals, but Nikolai Khabibulin couldn’t keep Torres or the Sedin twins off the board enough to get the decision.
With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.
Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.
The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.
The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.