ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 27: Jason LaBarbera #1 of the Phoenix Coyotes reacts as the puck shot by Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild gets past him in the final minute of the third period of the game on March 27, 2013 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Skyrocketing Wild beat plummeting Coyotes

24 Comments

It took some time for the new-and-improved Minnesota Wild to find their groove, but they certainly seem to have lately. Minnesota extended its winning streak to seven games with a 4-3 overtime victory at home against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.

They wouldn’t have prolonged the streak without some last-minute dramatics. Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who now has points in 12 of his last 15 games, found the back of the net with 54.3 seconds remaining in regulation time.

Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu assisted on that goal and went on to net the game-winner in overtime.

“I don’t know if we would have handled this as well, trailing in the third period, at the beginning of the season,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said in a Star Tribune report. “I just don’t think we played a good game, but we found a way to win.”

Minnesota is competing with the Vancouver Canucks for the Northwest Division lead. Both teams have 42 points, but the Canucks have played in 33 games to the Wild’s 32.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes’ free fall continues. Although they did still end up with a consolation point, the Coyotes have now lost seven games in a row and are five points behind the eighth seed San Jose Sharks.

“We’re right at the cliff as far as I’m concerned,” Coyotes Don Maloney recently warned. “If we slide much further, all bets are off. We’re going to go out and find assets. This is reality.”

In other words, if the Coyotes don’t start winning immediately, they’ll become sellers. As it is, Maloney might already be convinced that trading for prospects, picks, and youngsters is his best bet.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

19 Comments

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

23 Comments

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

22 Comments

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

100 Comments

Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

***

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.