The Atlanta Thrashers looked downright ugly in their surprising 9-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Thrashers enforcer Ben Eager provided the ugliest moment of the night when he landed a sucker punch on Leafs forward Colby Armstrong.
There’s really no defense for Eager’s actions, at least judging from what happened on the ice. He simply landed a punch on Armstrong out of nowhere and received a deserved match penalty, one that Toronto wasn’t shy about exploiting.
(You can watch the video here.)
It was already 5-1 when Eager dropped Armstrong with that cheap shot so you cannot blame him for the loss, but the Leafs made Atlanta pay on the scoreboard with four power-play goals during that major penalty.
Who knows if the league will discipline Eager in any way – personally, I think he should absolutely face some kind of suspension, considering the senseless nature of the punch – but we’ll certainly keep you updated.
Naturally, a nine goal performance will help players boost their stats and that was certainly the case in this one. Nikolai Kulemin scored two goals and two assists, Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and one assist, Tomas Kaberle produced four assists and Armstrong himself scored a goal and an assist. (For more on the many Leafs who profited from the Thrashers’ boneheaded behavior and poor play, consult the box score.)
James Reimer earned his second career win, stopping 41 out of 44 shots while the Thrashers not-so-surprisingly needed both Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec to absorb those nine goals.
The Leafs are now on a two game winning streak while the Atlanta’s hold on the sixth spot in the East is tenuous. The Thrashers (50 points) played three more games than seventh seed than the Rangers (49 points) and eighth seed Canadiens (47 points), but they should be pretty safe from the ninth place Hurricanes (44 points in four less games played).
It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.
For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.
After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.
Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.
Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:
Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins
Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals
Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.
Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.
The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.
(Check out video of the hit above.)
The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.
Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?
Washington currently leads the game 3-2.
There are plenty of hazards on an NHL rink even if you’re not a player.
Barry Trotz ranks among the coaches who’ve been hit by pucks, though he’s one of the tiny sliver of humans who would shake off a puck to the forehead. It can be dangerous for officials, too, whether it means a wayward puck or wayward player.
The latest example comes in the form of linesman Steve Miller needing help off the ice after a puck hit him in the knee area. As you can see from the video, it looked like he was in serious pain.
It’s refreshing that hockey fans have, for the most part, moved on from debating Tyler Bozak‘s merits.
The general feeling is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him in appropriate ways these days, so we can simply enjoy his work as a pretty spiffy hockey player.
Speaking of spiffy, check out the sweet moves he made against the Minnesota Wild for the goal above. Feels like you could dub over a Chris Berman “whoop” or two in there, right?
(If you’re into that kind of thing.)
Here’s that gaudy move in isolation and in GIF form: