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Kings GM Dean Lombardi apologizes for his outburst, still upset over call

We’ve all had moments like Dean Lombardi had last night. You get in the middle of a heated contest, you’re struggling to get things right and then you’re asked about what’s bothering you and you blow off some steam verbally. For the rest of us it means either ticking off friends, making an ass of ourselves at a party, or getting thrown out of the bar.

For Lombardi, it means having to wake up the next day and see all over the Internet and in the newspapers about how you accused the NHL’s Vice-President of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, of making a bad call on a reviewed goal because Murphy was upset about not getting the GM job in Los Angeles years ago. It didn’t matter that Lombardi had a legitimate complaint over the call on Martin Hanzal’s second period goal that allowed it to count despite being batted in with a high stick, it’s the fact that Lombardi blew up and called out an NHL executive over it all.

Today, Lombardi apologized to Murphy over what he said and he feels pretty bad about the entire thing but hopes it took some heat off his struggling team as Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy shares.

“I called Mike Murphy and apologized first thing this morning,” Lombardi said. “He was very professional and a bigger man than me.”

Asked if he was trying to reflect attention away from his team which has been slumping after a terrific start, Lombardi admitted, “Yeah, there was some of that.”

Still, Lombardi was upset at the call and how the on-ice officials handled it.

“They are supposed to get together and discuss it so that one has the opportunity to over-rule the original call,” Lombardi said. “I mean it was so obvious it was knocked in with a high stick. Our defenceman Mike Greene is 6-foot-3 and the guy’s stick was right in his face.

Don’t be distracted too much by what Lombardi said last night, he had a very real and legitimate gripe and when things are going bad for your team, even the smallest slight against your team seems like a titanic issue. Lombardi’s rant also distracted away from what the Kings real issue now: scoring goals. The Kings still had 30 minutes of hockey to even things up and even with Lee Stempniak’s goal later in the period, it’s not as if the Kings were out of the game. The Kings had more than 30 shots on goal in the game and held Phoenix to just 15 shots of their own. On a night when the goalie is just on like how Ilya Bryzgalov was on all it took was one goal to make the difference.

Frustration coming down from the team front office usually doesn’t get such a public spectacle and for a guy like Lombardi, who keeps things close to the vest, it’s stunning to see. We hope everyone enjoyed it for what it is because it’s probably the last time we see this happen in L.A.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) scores a goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand celebrates after scoring on a penalty shot during the overtime period of the Boston Bruins 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.