Maybe the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers failed to earn style points in their shootout wins this afternoon, but they’ll settle for two real points. Let’s take a quick look at both of their victories, as the Penguins held up their end of the bargain to attempt to win the Atlantic Division while the Thrashers kept their faint playoff hopes alive.
Pittsburgh 2, Florida 1 (SO)
Earlier today, Marc-Andre Fleury was named the Penguins’ most valuable player for the 2010-11 season. If you want a microcosm of his great campaign, look at this afternoon’s contest, as he made 37 saves and stopped both shootout attempts he faced as Pittsburgh eked out two more points.
Ben Lovejoy scored for the Penguins while Ryan Carter provided the Panthers’ tally.
If the Philadelphia Flyers lose in regulation against the Boston Bruins tonight, the Penguins could tie the Flyers at 100 points by beating them in regulation. The only difference will be that Philly will have a game in hand (click here for the extended details).
Atlanta 5, Ottawa 4 (SO)
The Thrashers have won two of their last three games, but it might be too little too late for Atlanta at this point. Still, they kept themselves in the discussion for at least another day, thanks to Andrew Ladd’s shootout winning goal.
Both Ben Maxwell and Blake Wheeler scored a goal and an assist each and Bryan Little and Mark Stuart scored once for the Thrashers. Marek Svatos provided two goals, while Erik Condra and Chris Neil scored a goal each for the scrappy Senators.
Ultimately, both the Penguins and Thrashers did what they had to do today. Pittsburgh has a lot more to play for, although both teams aren’t likely to move much.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: