The mere fact that it was Todd Bertuzzi’s 1,000th game made this afternoon’s contest against the Minnesota Wild special enough. Yet Bertuzzi was able to script a great ending to his milestone, as the surging power forward scored a nice backhand goal to cap a 2-1 shootout win for the Detroit Red Wings.
The divisive power forward received boos when he touched the puck (unless it was actually one of those “Boo-urns”-style chants that sounded like boos?), but he made some nice plays in a well-played if offensively limited contest.
Bertuzzi might be the headliner for this game, but Niklas Backstrom was probably the best player on the ice. The Finnish goalie stopped 38 shots in regulation, only allowing a Nicklas Lidstrom goal early in the third period. Martin Havlat scored Minnesota’s only goal on a breakaway a little under five minutes into the final frame.
Pavel Datsyuk scored an absolute beauty to open up the scoring in the shootout while Bertuzzi clinched the Red Wings’ win. Jimmy Howard turned aside both Wild shooters and made 25 out of 26 saves during the actual game to win his 30th game of the season.
The Red Wings now have 80 points on the season, leaving them five points behind the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the West. Minnesota would have loved to win this game, but they’ll take the charity point. That moves them to 68 points so far this season, placing them in a five-team tie for sixth in the West. At this moment, wins and games played tiebreakers technically place them in eighth.
If the Mikko Koivu misses a significant amount of time, players such as Backstrom and Havlat must carry the Wild. They did so this afternoon, even if they came up a little bit short against the Red Wings.
Update: here is video footage of Bertuzzi discussing his 1,000th game.
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Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.