The Pittsburgh Penguins limped into Monday’s game with injured defensemen (add Brooks Orpik to the growing list) and key sniper James Neal suspended, but their biggest names still made it happen in a 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Evgeni Malkin scored and was a difference-maker in his return to action while Sidney Crosby notched an odd game-winner to eke out the Pens’ sixth straight home win:
Marc-Andre Fleury almost earned a shutout (and a rare goal for a goalie), settling for his 17th win of the 2013-14 season.
Curtis McElhinney obviously didn’t get the win, as the Blue Jackets allowed two goals after piling up two consecutive shutouts. Still, the journeyman goalie stopped 28 out of 30 shots, so there’s still reason to believe that he could help them survive Sergei Bobrovsky’s lengthy absence.
With this win, the Penguins have 43 standings points on the season, giving them the top spot in the East. Their buddies the Boston Bruins aren’t far behind, however, as they have 42 points and two games in hand (30 games played versus Pittsburgh’s 32).
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets find themselves outside of the playoff picture right now with a 12-15-3 record for 27 points.
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.
Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut
“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”
Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.
Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.
DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.
Blashill says DeKeyser has a bruise, not a break. Will know more tomorrow, but probably day-to-day
The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.
But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.