With all due respect to Daniel Sedin and Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby might be well on his way to securing a second consecutive Art Ross Trophy if he didn’t miss significant portions of the last two seasons due to concussions. That’s certainly the impression you’re left with after seeing Crosby add another goal and assist on Sunday to give him 25 points in a mere 15 games. His efforts helped the Penguins bounce back from a nasty 8-4 loss on Saturday and earn a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Pittsburgh had four other players finish the game with two points each, including Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, and Jordan Staal. Now that they’re at close to full strength, the Penguins’ ability to make opposing defenses and goaltenders look silly will be a primary point of concern for any team that faces them in the first round.
Pittsburgh has suffered just two losses in March and is the third team in the NHL to reach the 100 point mark. This victory puts them just one point shy of the New York Rangers as the two squads battle for first place in the Eastern Conference.
On the New Jersey Devils’ side, Zach Parise scored his 30th goal of the season and has now reached that mark in five of his last six campaigns. The exception was 2010-11 when he was limited to just 13 games. Parise is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will be one of the most sought after players if he decides to test the market.
For now though, he’ll be focused on trying to help the Devils extend their campaign for as long as possible. With Sunday’s loss, New Jersey is likely to finish the season in sixth place, but that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. The third seed is currently projected to go to the Florida Panthers, who have an inferior record to the Devils. Playing Florida might be preferable to playing a team like the Rangers, Penguins, or Flyers as the fifth seed.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.