Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the New York Rangers starting at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Tonight marks the start of the fifth all-time playoff series between the Rangers and Penguins. Pittsburgh has had the home-ice advantage in all four previous series, and won all of them. The Rangers have never won the opening game of a series against the Pens, and have only held a series lead once, when they had a two-games-to-one advantage in 1992 before losing the final three games of the series. The Pens are 9-2 all-time in home playoff games vs. the Rangers, outscoring them by a combined 49-34.
• Penguins center Sidney Crosby had no goals and six assists in Pittsburgh’s six-game victory over Columbus in the first round, marking the third (and longest) playoff series of Crosby’s career in which the Pittsburgh captain went without a goal. The Penguins have won two of the three series – including Crosby’s lone playoff series vs. the Rangers, in 2008.
• Goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury (86 career postseason games) and Henrik Lundqvist (74) are first and second, respectively, among remaining goalies in this postseason in career playoff games played. (L.A.’s Jonathan Quick is third, with 57.) Both Lundqvist and Fleury have both played their entire careers with their respective teams. This is Fleury’s 10th season with the Penguins (eighth postseason); Lundqvist’s ninth with the Rangers (eighth postseason).
• The Rangers went 3-29 (10.3%, T-third worst in playoffs) on the power play in the first round and have gone 0-21 in their last 21 opportunities with the man advantage. The Penguins allowed at least one power-play goal in five of their six first-round games vs. Columbus, including four power-play goals (in 13 opportunities) in the last three games.
• Martin St. Louis, who scored one goal in 19 regular-season games as a Ranger following his March 5 trade from Tampa Bay, registered two goals and four assists in the first round against Philadelphia, tied for the team lead with Brad Richards. St. Louis has faced the Penguins once before in the playoffs, when his Lightning pulled off a seven-game upset of the Penguins in the first round of Tampa Bay’s run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Final. St. Louis had four goals and four assists to lead all players in that series, in which Sidney Crosby did not play due to concussion issues.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.