Both Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin managed to put the puck in the net during the Winter Classic. Unfortunately, each one of those goals were called off because of goalie interference calls.
So although Evgeni Malkin began the scoring with a nice semi-breakaway tally, the 2011 outdoor game belonged in many ways to the grunt workers instead of marquee players as the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in a competitive 3-1 match. Eric Fehr scored two goals in two very different ways, taking advantage of a Marc-Andre Fleury gaffe to score an ugly game winner but then clinching the game with a beautiful breakaway score. Mike Knuble – the oldest player on the ice for either team – tied the game by scoring in the courageous and gritty (but ugly) style that earned him 14 seasons in the NHL (and counting).
It was a rugged and entertaining game even when rain made it a bit tougher for the two offensively gifted clubs to display their traditional attacking styles. Semyon Varlamov showed why Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau tabbed him to start the game by stopping 32 out of 33 pucks while Fleury was strong for most of the game (making 29 out of 32 saves) aside from that mishap.
For a time, it seemed like the game might be marred by controversy after David Steckel nailed Crosby with a hard hit late in the second period. Yet Crosby played through the third period, indicating (though not guaranteeing) that he won’t face many ill effects.
Instead, Crosby and the Penguins just need to deal with the side effects of losing to Ovechkin and the Capitals. Judging from their dejected reactions, it looks like that hurt quite a bit, though.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse
Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.
The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.
The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.
McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.
Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.
Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”
A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.
“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.
Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.
Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA