Monday night’s “Battle of Coal Harbour” between Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon had another intriguing storyline as well.
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh’s 19-year-old rookie defenseman, suited up for tonight’s Pens-Avs game — his ninth of the season. That means the club now has a difficult decision ahead: Keep Maatta in the NHL, using up a year of his entry-level deal in the process, or send him back to his junior club in OHL London and “save” a year of his deal.
According to a report in today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that decision had already been made. The Trib cited “multiple sources” who claimed Maatta would indeed stick with the Pens for the year but, prior to putting Maatta on the lineup card tonight, Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma refuted the claim.
“It’s not accurate to my knowledge that a decision has been made on Maatta to this point,” Bylsma said. “He’ll be playing in his ninth game tonight. Given the fact that we may be getting healthy in the next game or two, that would end up leaving us with eight defensemen.
“We’ll see how that plays out.”
Maatta has certainly done enough to warrant a spot on the Pens. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound rearguard had three points in eight games coming into tonight, averaging nearly 15 minutes per, thriving with the likes of defenseman Kris Letang sidelined due to injury.
Through two periods of tonight’s game vs. Colorado, Maatta had 9:22 TOI with two shots on goal.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.
As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.
Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.
Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.
PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).
Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.
In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.
Gaborik’s first goal:
And here’s video of the OT-GWG:
Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.
With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.