Get your game notes: Jackets at Penguins

12 Comments

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• This marks the first-ever postseason meeting of the Blue Jackets and Penguins, two teams separated by 185 miles. Columbus, which set franchise highs in wins (43) and points (93) in its first season in the Eastern Conference, is making only its second postseason appearance since joining the NHL in 2000-01. The Jackets were swept in four games by Detroit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in their only other appearance, in 2008-09. The three players remaining from that playoff roster are forwards R.J. Umberger and Jared Boll, and defenseman Fedor Tyutin. Pittsburgh eventually hoisted the Stanley Cup that season, beating the Red Wings in seven games in the Final.

• This season, the Blue Jackets lost all five games vs. the Penguins in regulation and were outscored 16-7. The last time a team took zero points in a regular-season series (minimum: four games) and upset that team in the playoffs was Carolina vs. Boston in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals. During the 2008-09 season, the Hurricanes did not earn a point in four regular-season matchups with the Bruins. However, they rebounded to turn away the Bruins in seven games. Elias Sports Bureau

• Penguins captain Sidney Crosby captured his second career (2006-07) Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring champion, with 104 points in 80 games. Those were Crosby’s highest points and games-played totals since the 2009-10 season (109 points in 81 games). In the 60 games in which he registered points the Penguins went 47-8-5. In the 30 games in which he registered two or more points, they went 28-0-2.

• Crosby reached the 100-point milestone for the fifth time in his career and became the fourth player in Penguins history to earn multiple Art Ross Trophies, following Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux (6), Jaromir Jagr (5) and Evgeni Malkin (2). Malkin, who missed 22 games this season (including the last 11 with a foot injury), still managed to finish 15th in the NHL in scoring (23-49–72). After participating in his first full practice since the March 23 injury on Tuesday, the 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner is expected to play in Game 1.

• From the first period of their game vs. Dallas on Mar. 4 through Mar. 23, the Blue Jackets endured a zero-for-37 (0.0%) power-play drought over eight+ games. However, from Mar. 25 until the end of the regular season, they went 13-for-36 (36.1%) with the man advantage. In those 11 games, nine different players scored a PPG, led by center Ryan Johansen (three).

• On Apr. 14, the Penguins recalled veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun from a conditioning assignment at their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Vokoun missed the entire 2013-14 regular season after undergoing emergency surgery to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis in September. Last season, the 37-year-old goalie replaced an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury (2-2, 3.52 GAA, .883 save%) during the playoffs and went 6-5 with a 2.01 GAA and .933 save percentage, helping the Pens reach the Eastern Conference Final.

• This season, the Penguins lost an NHL-high 527 man-games to injury. (Only one player, forward Craig Adams, appeared in all 82 games.) Since 2009-10, five teams have reported 350 or more man-games lost during a season and made the playoffs. Two of them, Pittsburgh and Detroit, have come this year.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

Getty
Leave a comment

William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

Getty
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

1 Comment

The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

Getty
Leave a comment

The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.