The Pittsburgh Penguins are rolling. The New York Rangers, despite a late third-period comeback Wednesday, are not.
The Penguins coughed up a two-goal lead in the final eight minutes of the third period, but still prevailed with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Rangers on Rivalry Night.
Chris Kunitz collided heavily with Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist at the side of the net early in overtime. Kunitz was called for goalie interference. It was a high speed collision, although Lundqvist had gone just outside his crease at the time.
By the way, that was one entertaining overtime. Lundqvist, shaken up earlier in the extra frame, made a huge stop off the league leader in points, Sidney Crosby, to give his team a chance.
Brandon Sutter scored a beauty in the third period to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead, but boy did he take Michael Del Zotto to school with the outside-inside move. Del Zotto has been in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse already this season, and that play likely isn’t going to help.
Sutter would score the only goal in the deciding skills competition, on a shot through the legs of Lundqvist, in the fifth round.
Quick strike offence for Penguins: Two goals in one minute and one second in the third period. Pascal Dupuis gave them the lead on a sweet set up from Crosby.
The Rangers couldn’t capitalize on a four-on-three power play in the overtime, but scored the equalizer with a late third-period power play to earn at least the point.
Kunitz for the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team – yes? No?
Lively bounce off the end boards on the Rangers’ tying goal, or was Marc-Andre Fleury too slow getting over to his right for Derick Brassard’s bad-angle shot that went top corner?
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.