Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils

Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa reach milestones

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Tonight’s games have heavy playoff implications, but there’s also a historic aspect to some of the proceedings – especially if you’re a fan of European players. Here are the milestones that were set, in order of highest to lowest “quantities.”

Hossa hits 900

The Chicago Blackhawks point out that Marian Hossa is now one of nine active players to hit the 900-point mark, which he reached on a power-play goal. The 33-year-old winger is in the middle of his 970th regular season game, so one could argue that he could very well put together a Hall of Fame career.

Kovalchuk scores No. 400

Putting together a HoF career Part II of III: Ilya Kovalchuk’s redemptive season keeps humming along. He scored the 400th goal of his career and he’ll turn 29 on April 15. Tom Gulitti points out that Kovalchuk is just the third NHL active player to reach the 400-goal mark before game No. 900. Kovalchuk pulled it off in game No. 771 while Teemu Selanne (700) and Jaromir Jagr (742) beat him by a few but also didn’t play their entire careers in a lower-scoring era.

Considering Kovalchuk’s sturdiness – he’s barely missed any games since becoming a full-time player – and young age, the sexy question is: how many more goals does he have in him? If you ask me, 600+ isn’t a crazy mark to shoot for, but what do you think?

Geno goal 200

Speaking of Russians primed to be bronzed, Evgeni Malkin shared some of Sidney Crosby’s spotlight as he scored the 200th goal of his impressive NHL career. He also had his 201st goal (not to mention three more assists) in a positively bonkers Pittsburgh Penguins-Winnipeg Jets game that currently has Pittsburgh up 8-4.

In case you want to prognosticate about Geno’s goal-scoring future, he scored those 201 in 417 games (with a few minutes left, mind you) and is just 25 years old. He’s been more of a passer at times but seems to be a dual threat more than ever before – he now has 43 games this season and might just be the only guy who can hit the 50-goal mark along with Steven Stamkos.

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Either way, it’s been an outstanding night of milestones for guys who still have bright futures to look forward to.

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.

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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.