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?
John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.
Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).
Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.
A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.
Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.
Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.
Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”
McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.
It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.
Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.
Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.
The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.
Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.
Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.
London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.
“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.
“He does everything for us.”
Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.
Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.
Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.
Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.
“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.
“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”