The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t benefit from the returns of Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa tonight, but their other big stars lead the way. While they aren’t exploiting an embarrassment of riches any longer, the team is doing something they rarely needed to last season: scratch and claw for every point.
Jonathan Toews (one goal and one assist) and Duncan Keith (one goal) might not have impressive depth behind them, but they came through for Chicago much like they did during the 2009-10 season.
Chicago 3, Los Angeles 2
Call it a random stat if you want, but Chicago has only allowed one power play opportunity (a fruitless one for the Kings) in the last two games. Not too surprisingly, the Blackhawks find themselves on a two-game winning streak.
Corey Crawford earned his 10th win of the season, as the young goalie seems primed to “Pull an Antti Niemi” by usurping struggling would-be starter Marty Turco. Crawford stopped 26 out of 28 shots and was especially strong in the third period, allowing only one goal on 11 Kings tries.
Jonathan Quick wasn’t far behind, but the Kings need better performances than allowing three goals on 24 shots. At least in closely played games like this one.
This loss pushes the Kings out of playoff contention by a small margin with 37 points, although the closest teams in front of them have played 2-5 more contests and only hold two points standings leads. The Blackhawks are one of those teams, sitting with 39 points in 35 games played.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.