Even though they’re chasing Detroit for first overall in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks couldn’t help rooting for the Red Wings over the past few weeks.
Why? Because they wanted to be the team to snap Detroit’s NHL-record winning streak at the Joe, according to goalie Roberto Luongo.
“We were hoping they’d still be undefeated by the time we got there, so it’s going to be fun,” Luongo told the Vancouver Province. “I was talking to the guys two or three weeks ago, hoping Detroit would hold on ’til we got there.
“That’s what’s fun about playing the game, challenges like this. As a group, we’re excited about it and we’re going to step up to the plate.”
Vancouver lost its first game at the Joe this year — a 2-0 loss back in October — but boasts the league’s best road record (20-10-2) and played Detroit tough in both games at Rogers Arena. The Canucks won 4-2 on Dec. 21 and lost 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 2.
Luongo was in net for the two most recent games and was solid, stopping 78 of 83 shots (.939 save percentage) and while he’s fired up for the third installment, he did back off his comments somewhat prior to the game.
“I didn’t say we were going to beat them,” Luongo said, when asked if he thought he’d provided bulletin board material. “I said it was a challenge for us to come here and try to beat them. I mean, I think guys are excited about that.
“I never said we were going to come in here and win. I just said we were excited about the opportunity and that it’s a great challenge for our team to try and do something special.”
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…