It’s been a season to forget for Brent Johnson.
Pittsburgh’s backup goaltender is in the midst of a shockingly bad statistical campaign — 3-7-0, 3.17 GAA, .882 save percentage — one that didn’t get any better after Sunday’s 6-2 loss to Buffalo. Johnson was yanked from the contest early in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots, the second time in five starts he’s failed to make it past the midway point (he also got an early hook in a 5-1 loss to Ottawa.)
Despite the struggles, the Penguins are standing behind the veteran keeper.
Well, head coach Dan Bylsma is anyway.
“I’m confident this guy can win hockey games,” Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He hasn’t played particularly well and hasn’t had a season like last year. He is going to be playing again. He’s going to have to win us some games, and play better.”
Johnson’s struggles this year been exacerbated by his outstanding numbers from last year, when he went 13-5-0 with a sparkling 2.17 GAA and .922 save percentage. That allowed Bylsma to rest No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a number of occasions — something he hasn’t been able to do this season.
Sunday’s game against Buffalo was a prime example. Fleury played the day before in a 6-4 win over Philly and faced 31 shots, then got called in on his day off (which the Sabres took full advantage of, scoring three times on 12 shots.) Forcing Fleury into extended action has been a common theme in Pittsburgh this season — the Pens played 11 games in January and Flower was the goalie of record in 10 of them, a big reason why he’s on pace to set a career high in appearances.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.
Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.
The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?
Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:
If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.
Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.
An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.
After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.
You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.
Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.
Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.
Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.
Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.
Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.
Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:
Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.
Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.
“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”
Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”
People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.