rangersbeatpensnov15

Riding the Zamboni – Monday, November 15th

Let us take a look at five of the first six games tonight. We’ll clue you in to what happened during the late Battle of California between Los Angeles and San Jose tomorrow.

NY Rangers 3, Pittsburgh 2 (OT)

The Rangers won largely thanks to the reasons they’ve been winning so far in 2010-11: great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and scrappy play overall. Lundqvist made 37 saves and kept the Penguins off the board for all but 40 seconds of the game, as Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke scored rapidly late in the second period. Erik Christensen, Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers.

New York is on a three-game winning streak while the Penguins continue to struggle at the Consol Energy Center, dropping to 3-5-1 at home this season.

Philadelphia 5, Ottawa 1

At this point, it seems pretty clear that the two best teams in the East are the Flyers and Capitals. Philadelphia continues their red-hot play (9-0-1 in their last 10 games) by throttling Brian Elliott even though the Senators goalie has been on the top of his game lately.

It’s hard to blame Elliott too much, though, as the Flyers are just downright dominant right now. They showered him with shots in this one, scoring five goals on 46 shots.

Buffalo 4, Vancouver 3 (OT)

Is it too early to say that the Sabres righted the ship? Maybe, but they’re playing much better hockey right now. They’ve made it into overtime or later in five straight games – a Buffalo franchise record – and are 4-0-1 in those contests. They won this one in OT after Tyler Myers took advantage of a bad Canucks turnover. Ryan Miller is 2-0 since his return from injury.

Boston 3, New Jersey 0

After faltering a bit lately, the Bruins took advantage of the hapless Devils to help Tim Thomas earn his fourth shutout of this young season. He made 28 saves to earn his ninth win of 2010-11, beating Martin Brodeur, who made 21 out of 24 saves in this game.

Colorado 6, St. Louis 3

John-Michael Liles was the star of this one with two goals and one assist (read more about his red-hot start to the season here). The Avalanche bludgeoned the Blues in this one, scoring six goals against Jaroslav Halak despite only putting 23 shots on goal while Peter Budaj scrapped his way to a solid victory.

The Blues are stumbling quite a bit now as they’re currently on a four game losing streak. The bad news is that November is going to be a rough month; the good news is that they’ll have a pretty cushy schedule in October. The question is: how big of a hole will they find themselves in by then?

San Jose 6 – Los Angeles 3

The Kings saw their six-game win streak broken by a Sharks team that effectively pounced on the Kings when they were foolish enough to commit a penalty or turn the puck over. If the Kings weren’t doing one, they were doing the other in an uncharacteristically bad game. Patrick Marleau lead the way with a goal and two assists while Joe Pavelski and Dany Heatley each had a goal and an assist. Antero Niittymaki was strong in goal making 32 saves in the win. Jonathan Bernier had a shaky night stopping 28 out of 34.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.