The beauty of youth is served this week with the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week as Washington’s Braden Holtby took home top honors after a spectacular week. Holtby went 4-0-0 this week with a 1.05 goals against average and a .965 save percentage while helping the Caps climb back atop the Southeast Division and into the number two spot in the Eastern Conference. The 21 year-old rookie was outstanding earning a 22-save shutout against the Oilers and was strong in wins over Tampa Bay and Carolina. Yesterday he looked solid as well against Chicago in NBC’s Game of the Week.
Holtby has gotten the call thanks to an injury to Semyon Varlamov and while he’s played so well of late he’s moved the season-long consistent starter Michal Neuvirth to the bench. Getting great play from all their goaltenders all season long has been a boon for the Caps and Holtby is a prime example of the youthful depth they have in Washington.
Daniel Sedin’s week wasn’t too shabby either. Sedin led the league in scoring last week with three goals and five assists all while helping Vancouver go 3-0-0 last week. That kind of effort is good enough to make him the NHL’s number two star of the week. Daniel is the NHL’s top scorer this year with 89 points, five better than Steve Stamkos and six better than his brother Henrik, last year’s NHL MVP. Sedin’s work is helping Vancouver sit atop the Western Conference standings this year and has them as a leading candidate to win the Stanley Cup.
Corey Perry was the NHL’s top goal scorer last week as he scored five goals and added two assists to make him the third star of the week. Perry’s output gave him 36 goals on the season and while the Ducks went 2-1-0 last week, losing only to Phoenix last night, Perry’s goal output has been consistent all season long. His 75 points in 69 games this year have him ranked fifth in the NHL in scoring. If the Ducks are able to make the playoffs this year, expect to hear some throw his name around as a darkhorse MVP candidate.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: