According to Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, one goal didn’t decide the game.
That was the message following his team’s collapse in a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal. The Penguins blew a 3-0 lead in stunning fashion — at home, to a hated rival — and it all began rather controversially.
It was a contentious goal, but the Penguins head coach wasn’t interested in calling it a game-changer.
“In the course of a game — for the linesmen — there’s a lot of scenarios that are close to being calls either way,” Bylsma said. “I think the linesman is to wish this one was a little closer than it was, when he sees it again.
“But that’s not why we lost.”
If Bylsma wanted reasons for why his team lost, he didn’t have to look far. The Penguins had three power plays when the score was 3-0, more than enough opportunities to salt the game away.
They also allowed history to repeat itself. The Penguins lost two games to the Flyers in the stretch drive by blowing 2-0 leads and seemed to overlook the fact that Philly led the NHL during the regular season by winning three games — all on the road — after falling behind by three goals.
Game 2 goes Friday at Consol Energy Center in what will be a very nervous affair for the Penguins. While the team’s PR staff noted the winner of Game 1 in the last four series involving Penguins has gone on to lose the series, Pittsburgh has to be concerned with its inability to close out the Flyers.
Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.