The Edmonton Oilers did the San Jose Sharks a bit of a favor by beating the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Maybe they’ll say thanks when the Oilers and Sharks meet tomorrow?
Regardless, it was an impressive showing by Edmonton, handily winning the sort of “low-event” contest few associate with the Oilers. It wasn’t close on the scoreboard, either, as they beat Anaheim 4-0.
The battle for the Pacific Division crown remains tight, as all three of the top teams are in the running:
1. Sharks – 64 points in 49 games
2. Ducks – 63 points in 51 games
3. Oilers – 62 points in 50 games
Leon Draisaitl was one of the standouts, scoring two goals (including the 1-0 game-winner). Zack Kassian showed a little burst on what was probably the prettiest tally of the contest:
Cam Talbot continues to be lights-out in January, turning aside all 26 Ducks for a shutout. Here’s one of his best saves:
Fans can debate if it’s appropriate to call this a “statement game,” but it’s pretty reasonable to say that the Oilers look like they’re very likely to make the playoffs. Nights like tonight and Thursday’s test against the Sharks may merely specify where they fit in.
Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way
You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.
The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.
When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”
The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.
It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).
Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens
It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.
Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:
It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.
Judge for yourself in the highlights:
The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.
If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.
Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals
Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.
That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.
Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.
Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.
Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.