Tanner Glass cemented himself in Manitoban lore this evening, scoring the game-winning goal as the Winnipeg Jets won their first NHL game since 1996, a 2-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Three big storylines emerged from tonight’s contest:
1) Burmistrov’s breakthrough: Heading into the year, one of the major criticisms facing Winnipeg heading was a lack of true offensive talent up front. No disrespect to Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little or even Evander Kane, but there just didn’t appear to be a gamebreaker on the roster. Tonight, though, the Jets might’ve found their guy. Alex Burmistrov — the 2010 first-round pick that doesn’t turn 20 for another four days — assisted on both Jets markers and led all forwards in ice time, with 21:07. That effort earned him third star honors for the game.
2) Noel speaks, players listen: Coming into tonight’s contest, Jets head coach Claude Noel said his team was “underachieving” and “way below the bar.” Winnipeg dropped its first thee games by a combined score of 18-5 and looked brutal doing so. But after getting called to the carpet, Noel’s charges responded with an inspired, physical and occasionally frenzied effort at home. With four minutes to go, Tanner Glass went at it with Chris Kunitz while Jim Slater dropped the gloves with Ben Lovejoy in a spirited battle.
3) Winnipeg actually got some goaltending: Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec had been mediocre-to-awful through the first three games, but the latter stepped up with a solid 27-save effort. The highlight came late in the second period with the Jets up 2-0 — Pavelec stopped Richard Park’s two-on-one opportunity moments before turning aside a point-blank chance from Pascal Dupuis:
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.