Depending upon whom you ask, the Pittsburgh Penguins answered many or few questions on Monday. No one can deny the score, however, as they beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in a, well, odd duck of a game.
Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant when his team wasn’t so bright, including keeping the Ducks off the scoreboard in a first period where they generated a 12-3 shot disparity. Sidney Crosby scored his 10th goal of the 2013-14 season while Evgeni Malkin often asserted his will over the contest, collecting a pair of assists.
There’s also the great debut for Brian Gibbons, who notched the first goal and first assist of his career in his first NHL game.
Still, that aforementioned first period was troubling and all four of the game’s goals came in 4:04 of game time in the final frame. For some, that might smell of blind luck or a Ducks team that ran out of gas. There will also be some who continue to gravitate toward Malkin’s lack of goals, even if he has almost an assist per game to “make up” for the lack of tallies (17 assists and 20 points overall in 21 games played).
That brings us to another undeniable factor: the Ducks will be glad to return to Anaheim. The Ducks went 0-3-1 in a four-game road trip through the East despite gaining the shot advantage in all four of those contests.
Pittsburgh finds itself gaining on top East teams Boston and Tampa Bay while the Ducks may find themselves slipping a tier or two once other West teams catch up to their 23 games played. Both teams have been struggling a bit lately, so we’ll see if the Penguins use this as a bounce-back night.
This past week Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby became the 86th player in league history to record 1,000 points in the NHL when he assisted on a Chris Kunitz goal in a win over the Winnipeg Jets. He is the 11th youngest player to reach the milestone, doing so at age 29 and making an already massive accomplishment that much more impressive when you consider the low scoring era he has played in.
Before Sunday afternoon’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Penguins’ first home game since Crosby reached the 1,000 point mark on Thursday night, the team honored with a pre-game ceremony that included a golden stick and a plaque made out of the roof of the old Civic Arena, the building in Pittsburgh that Crosby played in for the first five years of his career.
Check out the ceremony in the video above.
This season Crosby is second in the NHL scoring race with 64 points in 51 games, trailing Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid by three points (McDavid has played in eight more games). Crosby also leads the league with 31 goals entering play on Sunday.
More: Sidney Crosby records 1,000th career point
The New York Rangers are on some kind of a roll right now.
They were winners for the seventh time in their past eight games thanks to their 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon and have now won 10 of their past 13 games to put a pretty massive gap between them and the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (they are now 13 points ahead of Boston).
Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello provided the offense on Sunday afternoon, with Zuccarello’s third period goal — his 12th of the season — going in the books as the game-winner.
It was also another strong day for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he continues to regain his form after a tough first half of the season. With Sunday’s 29-save performance he has now won nine of his past 12 starts since Jan. 18. During that stretch he has allowed two goals or less in eight of those starts and has an overall save percentage of .936 during that stretch.
The crazy thing about this run for the Rangers is that for as good as they have been, and for as many wins as they have stacked up in recent weeks, they are still in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and relegated to a wild card spot because the three teams ahead of them (Washington, Pittsburgh, Columbus) keep collecting points. The Rangers are still two points back of the Blue Jackets (and if Columbus wins on Sunday night, it would be back to four points).
Just for some perspective on that, if they were in the Atlantic Division they would have a seven point lead. They would have a one-point lead over San Jose. They would be in second place in the Central.
For the Capitals, Sunday’s game was their second loss in a row coming out of their bye week after they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision in Detroit on Saturday.
It is the first time the Capitals have dropped consecutive games since Dec. 27 and 29. It is only the sixth time it has happened all season. They have lost more than two games in a row just once this season and never more than three in a row.
The Ottawa Senators have a chance to move into a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division on Sunday evening if they can beat the Winnipeg Jets.
If they are going to do it they will have to do so without the services of forward Bobby Ryan.
The team announced on Sunday afternoon, less than three hours before puck drop against the Jets, that Ryan is going to be sidelined indefinitely due to a hand injury pending further evaluation.
The team says Ryan was injured in the third period of Saturday’s win over Toronto when he was hit in the hand by a puck.
In 50 games this season Ryan has 12 goals and 12 assists. He has been going through a bit of a scoring slump in recent weeks with only three points in his past eight games. He has also registered just 14 shots on goal during that stretch, including a pair of games where he failed to register even one.
The Senators enter play on Saturday just two points behind Montreal in the Atlantic Division. A win over the Jets would move them into a tie and, for the time being, give them the tiebreaker edge due to having played in fewer games.
The NBC Networks quadruple header of NHL action on Hockey Day In America continues on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh when the Penguins host the Detroit Red Wings.
The Penguins enter the game coming off of an overtime loss in Columbus on Friday night and continue to play through some injuries with Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz all sidelined at the moment.
They remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division and have not lost a game in regulation since Jan. 26. They have gone 6-0-3 since, collecting 15 of 19 points in the standings.
On Sunday afternoon they get a Red Wings team that was a 3-2 shootout winner over the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The Red Wings beat the Penguins in Detroit more than a month ago.
Game time is 3 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBC or on our Live Stream.
Click here for the Live Stream
Hockey Day In American Quadruple Header