Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals seemed to hold a decent number of things in common, most notably the fact that both headed into the contest ranked ninth in their respective conferences. Tuesday’s 5-0 Stars win makes a compelling argument that they’re going in very different directions, however.
For at least a brief period of time, Dallas moves to eighth place in the West, although the Phoenix Coyotes can move right back ahead of them by beating the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Even so, the Stars hold a game in hand once tonight’s games wrap up and are generally putting themselves in a solid position to make this season’s regular season finale against Phoenix a match for a playoff spot.
The Stars are currently on a three-game winning streak and five of their last six games, beginning an interesting five-game road trip with two victories.
While the Stars get things together, the Capitals are falling apart. They’ve lost four games in a row and five of their last six games. The one bright side is that they were at least taking some points out of this tough stretch; four of their six games went to shootouts, although Washington only won one of them.
It might be tough for Caps fans to find bright sides (whether it’s fair to pin it on him or not, Alex Ovechkin’s oft-mentioned plus/minus sank to -36), but at least they get what could be a breather.
After facing tough Western Conference opponents and the Boston Bruins since March 18, they get a couple East opponents, although they play the next four games on the road. Assuming the margins aren’t too large for both teams, Friday’s road game against the Devils could be a make-or-break contest for the Capitals.
Then again, at this point, every game probably feels at least a little bit like that … and it’s mostly been cracks forming for the Caps lately.
Update: The Edmonton Oilers ended up needing every bit of Connor McDavid‘s brilliance, as goals weren’t coming easily against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
(Even though, as you can see with that highlight-reel assist, McDavid often makes it look easy.)
McDavid also managed a secondary assist on Mark Letestu‘s overtime-winner, ending the Edmonton Oilers’ losing streak at four games. The Blackhawks continue to be resourceful in getting standings points, in this case falling 2-1 in OT.
Anton Forsberg made 40 of 42 saves, but it wasn’t enough against a driven group led by number 97.
If you haven’t seen the more amazing of McDavid’s two helpers, do yourself a favor and check it out. You won’t regret it.
Connor McDavid’s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.
To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.
You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.
If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:
The roller coaster isn’t slowing down for the Boston Bruins.
With Tuukka Rask‘s concussion looming over the proceedings, the Bruins gave fans some reason to celebrate; Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and three assists in an impressive 6-3 output by the B’s top guns against the overmatched Vancouver Canucks.
Even Anders Bjork enjoyed some measure of redemption after bowling over Rask in practice, as the young player scored two goals and an assist despite being limited to 12:29 TOI.
Other big guns like Brad Marchand did their increasingly reliable damage, with David Pastrnak probably providing the most exhilarating goal of the contest:
Yeah, that might get some attention from Canucks coach Travis Green in film sessions, assuming he doesn’t just burn the tape.
Bergeron broke down his night to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the game:
The Bruins really made Erik Gudbranson and the Canucks pay for boarding Frank Vatrano, as they scored three power-play goals on the major penalty. Vatrano’s another health situation to watch, although it’s heartening that he returned during the game.
So … solid stuff overall, as the Bruins provided ample evidence that they might have the weapons to scrap through all this bad luck.
Then again, if opponents can slow the top-end guys, you wonder what kind of supporting cast the Bruins will have left through this run of attrition. David Krejci is the latest name to land on Boston’s troubling list of walking wounded.
Update: David Krejci will not return with an upper-body injury.
It’s fitting, though, that Kucherov made a little history even as his historic run ended. He earned two primary assists on the first two goals of Mikhail Sergachev‘s NHL career, factoring into the Tampa Bay Lightning’s surprisingly low-scoring 2-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
(C’mon, you pictured some fireworks there too, didn’t you?)
Here’s the first-ever goal for Sergachev, who matched trade mate Jonathan Drouin‘s two goals with tonight’s outburst.
And here’s the second:
Yeah, you can’t give Sergachev that kind of space and time; then again, maybe the Blue Jackets were a little preoccupied with stopping Kucherov and his red-hot partner-in-crime, Steven Stamkos?
The real star of tonight’s game/reason why it was so low-scoring was probably Andrei Vasilevskiy. Another key Russian for the Lightning, Vasilevskiy stopped all 43 shots for an impressive shutout. This marks his first of the season and only the fifth of what’s been a promising young career.
#CBJ owned the shot clock 33-8 over the final two periods. Fifth shutout of Vasilevskiy’s career, most saves (43) he’s had in a shutout.
After falling just short against the New Jersey Devils via a shootout, the Bolts improve to 6-1-1 while winning another early temperature check against Columbus, who are still off to a strong start at 5-2-0.