Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks

NBC Game of the Week: Chicago beats Pittsburgh 3-2 in the shootout thanks to Patrick Kane’s winner

After trading momentum and goals through two periods, it only made sense that the Blackhawks and Penguins did the same in the third period and overtime before deciding the game in a shootout.

Bryan Bickell scored a freakish goal 1:09 into the third period, just throwing it towards the net. The shot caught Marc-Andre Fleury by surprise and beat him over the shoulder to give Chicago a 2-1 lead. The Blackhawks would hang on to that lead until late in the period when Pittsburgh newcomer due to injury Brett Sterling scored stuffing home a Jordan Staal rebound with 3:28 left in regulation.

Chicago and Pittsburgh traded off power play opportunities at the end of the third and into overtime resulting in some fantastic chances for both teams highlighted by a spectacular save for Marc-Andre Fleury on Michal Frolik and the Penguins making Corey Crawford stand on his head during the 4-on-3 power play in overtime. Nothing would get decided there as the game headed to the shootout.

In the shootout, Patrick Kane would score the only goal in the event while Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis was denied by the post on his attempt. Even in spite of the loss in the shootout, Fleury’s play was brilliant throughout making 29 saves. Without his effort today, the Penguins likely don’t even get to go to the shootout. Corey Crawford was brilliant on his own in stopping 24 shots during the game and all three shots in the shootout.

One injury note from the game, however, as Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal left the game during overtime after being struck in the face by a shot. Staal went right to the locker room after the shot and did not return. After the game, coach Dan Bylsma said he assumes that Staal is OK. If there’s anything the Penguins don’t need now it’s to have their best center to go out of the lineup at all with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby out already.

The win is huge for Chicago as it gets them closer to the pack in the hunt for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Dropping a couple more in a row would’ve made things a bit tougher to handle in the ultra competitive West. For Pittsburgh, they’ll slip back a little bit behind Philadelphia in the East as the Flyers picked up a win earlier over the Rangers. The Pens have now lost five of their last seven games.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.