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Red Wings squeeze by Ducks on historic night

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Win or lose, Friday night was bound to be heavy on history for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tomas Holmstrom and Nicklas Lidstrom reached their milestones for games played, as the polarizing winger hit Game No. 1,000 while Lidstrom tied Alex Delvecchio for second place in Red Wings history with 1,549.

Those individual milestones were cleared on each players’ first shift, but the team’s other brush with history wasn’t settled until Joey MacDonald stopped Bobby Ryan’s shootout attempt. Detroit inched one win closer to tying the NHL’s all-time record for consecutive wins (20)* with their 19th by barely squeezing by the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 (SO).

The Red Wings have needed extra time to keep the streak alive quite a bit lately. Four of their last seven home wins have come after regulation, with three being determined by a shootout.

More on the 19-game streak

Some purists might try to poke holes in Detroit’s run based on those facts if they get to (or beyond) 20 straight wins at Joe Louis Arena, but it’s an impressive run nonetheless. NHL Network provides some interesting stats from the 19-game streak:

Goals for: 79
Goals against: 27
Power play percentage: 20
Penalty kill percentage: 82.4

You can watch the Red Wings try to match the 20-win record on NBC Sports Network as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET. If Detroit wins that, a Tuesday night game against the Dallas Stars would be all that stands in the Detroit’s way from becoming the sole leader in that impressive record.

Looking beyond the pursuit of the record

Shifting from historical impacts to a shorter-term view of the season, the Red Wings have four consecutive home games, six of seven and eight of their next 10 at Joe Louis Arena going forward. If the Red Wings stays hot in Detroit, the team could build a truly formidable lead in the Central Division and the Western Conference as a whole.

* The 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers share that record.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.