NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Islanders at the Consol Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Sidney Crosby ought to be giddy going into this contest. No team has treated the 25-year-old star forward quite as well as the Islanders have.
Crosby has slaughtered the Islanders throughout his career by scoring 20 goals and 66 points in a mere 36 games. If he could spend his entire career playing against New York, then his numbers would rival Wayne Gretzky.
Perhaps his most noteworthy game against them came last season when he found the back of the net twice and added two assists in his Nov. 21, 2011 return from a concussion that had sidelined him for 11 months.
Add Evgeni Malkin and James Neal into the mix and the Islanders will have their hands full at a time when New York can’t seem to hold their own defensively. They have allowed at least four goals in each of the first three contests of their current five-game road trip. That’s caused them to fall into a tie for 27th place in terms of goals allowed per game in the early portion of the season.
Still, the Islanders offense is clicking and, led by 22-year-old forward John Tavares, should create plenty of headaches for the Penguins. We could be in for a high-scoring affair.
Probable goaltenders: NYI – Evgeni Nabokov (2-1-1, 3.49 GAA, .894 SV%) | PIT – Marc-Andre Fleury (2-1-0, 2.28 GAA, .916 SV%)
Top scorers: NYI – Tavares (1-6-7, 5 GP) | PIT – Malkin (1-5-6, 5 GP)
New York – Forwards: Joshua Bailey (knee), Jesse Joensuu (groin) Defensemen: Travis Hamonic (ankle), Lubomir Visnovsky (suspension)
Pittsburgh – Defensemen: Matt Niskanen (ankle)
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.