Penguins top Bruins in one of the best games of the season so far


For the first time in more than a month the Pittsburgh Penguins have won back-to-back games, and it could not have come at a better time.

With their season looking like it was starting to slip away from them, the Penguins were able to finally string together consecutive wins thanks to a thrilling 6-5 overtime win against the Boston Bruins on Sunday night.

Evgeni Malkin‘s second goal of the night was the winner in the extra period.

Combined with their win over the New York Islanders on Friday it puts the Penguins back into a playoff position for the time being, moving them one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Islanders.

All three teams still have games in hand on them (Carolina three, Philadelphia two, New York one), while Penguins are set to begin their bye week.

Let’s talk about Sunday’s game for a bit because it was probably one of the best games in the NHL so far this season, featuring wild swings in momentum, shaky goaltending, explosive offense, a penalty shot in the final minute of regulation, and a highlight reel goal to win it in overtime.

After giving up an early goal to Ryan Spooner, the Penguins erupted with three consecutive goals over the next 10 minutes to take a two-goal lead into the second period. It was there that the Bruins took over the game with four consecutive goals of their own and seemed to be on their way to blowing out another opponent.

Just as the game seemed to be out of reach, Evgeni Malkin scored with less than four seconds to play in the second period to pull them to within one. Riley Sheahan‘s unassisted goal early in the third period helped send the game to overtime.

Before it could get there Penguins goalie Matt Murray — who came on in relief of Tristan Jarry after he surrendered five goals in 32 minutes — had to stop Brad Marchand, one of the NHL’s top goal-scorers, on a penalty shot with just a little over one minute to play in regulation.

It is an encouraging win for the Penguins not only because it gives them something to build on heading into the bye week as they prepare for what is going to have to be a huge playoff push in the second half.

The Penguins have had quite a few games this season that have looked like they might be a turning point only to come back with a couple of clunkers that balance everything out. Will these past two games really end up being the turning point for them?

What these past two games have shown us is that the Penguins can score a lot of goals and win when their two best players — Sidney Crosby and Malkin — dominate. Over the past two games Crosby and Malkin have combined for four goals and seven assists, while one, or both, have had a direct hand in eight of the 11 goals in those two games. Only two of the goals were scored without one of them being on the ice.

The big question that has to be answered is what happens to the Penguins when those two players do not dominate a game. As I mentioned after their ugly loss to Carolina when neither Crosby or Malkin score in a game this season the Penguins are averaging less than two goals per game and have managed only a .333 points percentage, a significant drop from a season ago (when Crosby and Malkin did not score for the Penguins a year ago they were at .466 and averaged 2.5 goals per game).

Meanwhile, for the Bruins, the overtime loss extends their current point streak to 11 games. They are also 17-3-3 in their past 23 games and still have the fourth-best points percentage in the league.

It was also another big night for their offense as it was the fourth consecutive game they scored at least five goals.

The Brad Marchand-Patrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak also had another huge night with Marchand and Pastrnak each scoring their 17th goal of the season.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Spezza bounces back after healthy scratch; another injury for Predators

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Player Of The Night: Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars

On Monday night the Dallas Star made veteran forward Jason Spezza a healthy scratch as he was mired in a lengthy goal-scoring drought. The Stars wanted to see more from him, and they knew he could provide more.

When he stepped back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings he did exactly that by scoring a pair of goals in the Stars’ 4-2 win.

Even though Spezza had been struggling to put points on the board he was still doing an excellent job when it came to driving possession and generating shots, as well as the fact the team was outscoring its opponents when he was on the ice. His ice-time has been cut significantly this season, but he was doing enough to suggest that it was only a matter of time until he got back into the goal column.

He snapped out of it in a big way on Tuesday.

Another big injury for Nashville

The Nashville Predators are already playing without two of their top forwards with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson sidelined.

They lost another one on Tuesday night in their 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights when Ryan Johanson had to leave the game after taking a high hit from William Carrier.

Johanson left the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette had no update on Johansen after the game and said they were given an explanation that it was a clean hit.

The Predators ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kevin Fiala and 43 saves from Jusse Saros.

Highlight Of The Night

Not much in the way of highlight reel plays tonight, but here is a big goal from Vince Dunn to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Factoid Of The Night

A big milestone for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he picks up his 20th win of the season.


New Jersey Devils 4, New York Islanders 1

New York Rangers 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1

Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 2

St. Louis Blues 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

Nashville Predators 1, Vegas Golden Knights 0

San Jose Sharks 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Blackhawks concerned Crawford could miss remainder of season


Here is some less than encouraging news for the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to a report from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday night, there is some growing concern within the Blackhawks organization that starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to experiencing vertigo-like symptoms for the second time in his career.

Crawford has been sidelined since before Christmas due to an upper-body injury, but the team has been quiet on specifics other than to say publicly that they expect him to return this season.

Over the past few years Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top goalies and when he has been on the ice this season has been absolutely stellar for the Blackhawks. Given the current state of their defense and the rate that they give up shots he has become one of the team’s most important players and the one that seems to drive their success more than any other.

[Related: Corey Crawford has become the Blackhawks’ most important player]

In his absence the team has leaned on Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Both have played about as well as could have been expected, but they aren’t Crawford and there is a noticeable drop in play at the position when he is not in there.

In 26 games this season Crawford is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage.

As of Tuesday night the Blackhawks are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting three points back of the Minnesota Wild. They also have the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche sitting between them.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Rick Nash snaps out of slump, powers Rangers to huge win

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The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the teams in the middle of the free-for-all that is the Eastern Conference playoff race that had five teams separated by just three points heading into Tuesday night.

Both teams had been rolling in opposite directions over the past week with the Flyers having won four in a row and five of their past six, while the Rangers were riding a three-game losing skid and had lost four out of five.

Their past two losses coming out of the bye week were especially ugly, losing to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins (two other teams they are competing with) by a combined score of 12-4.

Both the Rangers’ and Flyers’ streaks came to an end in their game on Tuesday with the Rangers picking up a huge 5-1 win.

Rick Nash was the big star for the Rangers on Tuesday with a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the first period to tie the game at one after the Rangers gave up an early goal. It was a big performance for Nash because he had been mired in a brutal slump that had seen him go 12 consecutive games without a goal. He also had just one assist during that stretch. That slump has contributed to a down year offensively that has him on track for one of the least productive seasons of his career.

But he came through in a big way on Tuesday to help give the Rangers two huge points and move them three points ahead of the Flyers. The Flyers still have one game in hand while the two teams will still play three more games the rest of the season.

The Rangers’ win on Tuesday, combined with the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, moves the Rangers back into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

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