Two games into the Stanley Cup Final, and Bryan Bickell has yet to hit the score sheet for the Chicago Blackhawks.
He’s officially struggling offensively, with only a combined two shots on goal through two games.
Bickell had been on an impressive scoring pace in these playoffs, with goals in three of five games against the L.A. Kings in the Western Conference final as further proof of that.
A pending unrestricted free agent this summer, the 27-year-old Bickell is in line for a big raise from the $1.625 million-over-three-years he had previously been earning.
But for now, the Blackhawks are embattled in what could be a grueling Cup final against he Boston Bruins, and could use some of that offensive touch from Bickell, if they are to hoist their second championship in the last three years.
“I think everybody has stretches where things go well for you,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.
“Everything seemed to go in for him there. Around the net, had quick hands, finding pucks. I still think he has to simplify it. Something we talked about earlier, keep the puck going forward, put it at the net, don’t have to try to make plays. When you try to make plays, the other team takes advantage of it.
“I think simplifying it will be more effective and efficient.”
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Despite carrying the play, especially through the first two periods, the Bruins were unable to score and were shut out once again, losing the game on a goal from Marian Hossa with 1:26 remaining in regulation. For the Bruins, that’s a heartbreaker.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.
The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.
“I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”
The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenseman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.
The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.
“It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”
Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.
“All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”
The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.
Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.
“It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”
Rookie defenseman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.
Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.
Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.
Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.
Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.
Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.
Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.
Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. He also becomes just the fourth player from Sweden to hit that number, joining Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Daniel should also reach the mark, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.
Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.
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