Tonight’s game between the Flames and Canucks got off to an unusual start, but Vancouver has to be happy with the conclusion.
The game didn’t even really start until after Calgary and Vancouver got a line brawl out of their system that resulted in a combined 142 penalty minutes:
Canucks coach John Tortorella was infuriated with Calgary because they decided to start their tough guys. He even went so far as to confront the Flames just outside of their dressing room after the first intermission:
In the end, these two teams combined for 204 penalty minutes. Lost in all of that was the fact that this was goaltender Roberto Luongo’s return from an ankle injury. He gave the Canucks the kind of performance they needed and led the team to their 3-2 shootout victory.
This was also technically Kellan Lain’s NHL debut, although it only lasted for two seconds because he got booted from the contest for participating in the opening line brawl.
It was just Vancouver’s second win in 10 games, but the game had implications that might extend beyond the fights and the two points. Henrik Sedin didn’t join his teammates on the bench when the third period started. The Canucks haven’t provided any details about his condition yet, but he was questionable for the game to begin with due to a rib injury.
Participating in tonight’s contest extended Sedin’s ironman streak to 680 games. Vancouver will play against Edmonton on Tuesday.
Video: Canucks-Flames game kicks off with line brawl (Update: It got worse)
Well, that was quite a third period.
For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.
Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.
The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.
Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.
And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.
Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)
The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.
Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.
The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.
The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.
As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.
On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.
He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.
The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.
There was no call on the play.
Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.
Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.
Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.
That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus: