Here come the Hurricanes.
On Saturday, Carolina won its fourth consecutive game, defeating the New York Islanders 7-4. The Hurricanes had seven different goal scorers, capping off a four-game sweep on this home stand.
The Sabres and Islanders represent two clubs the surging Hurricanes need to exploit at this point in the season. They managed 12 goals in two games in a back-to-back situation, and this recent run of wins has Carolina knocking on the door of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes sit a single point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second Wild Card spot.
The Hurricanes had a slow start to their season. Playing a bulk of their early games on the road didn’t help. But, one of the top puck possession teams in the league at even strength, they’re making a move in the standings.
Jeff Skinner is having a great season for Carolina. They got contributions from many others Saturday. Brock McGinn had a four-point night and three other players — Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Lee Stempniak — had three-point performances.
This point was made earlier this week at PHT, but the Hurricanes have been dominant on home ice, and that continued versus the Islanders.
“I think at home … it seems we’re playing a pretty complete game. We don’t give much up. Tonight, early on, we did and I thought we tightened things up,” said Stempniak. “Our strength lies in our skating and it seems like at home we find our legs and skate offensively.”
Difficult few days here for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The defending champs suffered their third consecutive loss — the third loss in the last four days — as they fell 6-3 to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Worse yet, for the Penguins, was that their best defenseman Kris Letang left the game in the first period with an apparent injury.
Letang, who opened the scoring just 27 seconds in, was hurt less than four minutes into the game after he got tangled up with Thomas Vanek in the defensive zone.
The Penguins blue liner left the game and then briefly returned before leaving for good later in the first period. He played just 2:06. There was no update on Letang after the game.
The Penguins eventually gave up four straight goals to Detroit in the final 21 minutes. The highlight of this game: Andreas Athanasiou going on an end-to-end rush and then going top shelf on Marc-Andre Fleury to give Detroit its first lead.
That goal counts as the winner.
The Penguins thought they had tied it up in the third period, but the goal was overturned due to goalie interference.
From the NHL:
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Malkin’s actions caused Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader to contact Coreau before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing him from doing his job in the crease. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 78.7 which states in part: “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee … determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”
Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Pittsburgh Penguins.
Up next for the Penguins: A home game Monday against the Washington Capitals, now winners of eight in a row.
It seems you don’t see many goals like this anymore.
Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou went coast-to-coast against the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the third period of Saturday’s game, scoring his ninth goal of the season and giving his team the lead.
Athanasiou picked up the puck behind his own net, bursting up the middle of the ice with speed before finishing the play by going top shelf on Marc-Andre Fleury.
Andrew Shaw‘s return to the Montreal Canadiens lineup was brief.
Back on the ice in game action after a concussion sidelined him in December, Shaw played 5:06 in the first period against the New York Rangers on Saturday. He recorded 22 penalty minutes.
Shaw was tossed from the game after an interference major for a late, blindside hit on Jesper Fast. As seen in the clip above, the puck was nowhere near Fast when Shaw turned and delivered the late hit.
Now, will the league administer supplemental discipline for this latest incident?
Shaw has numerous run-ins with the league’s Department of Player Safety, including early this season when he was suspended during the pre-season. He also avoided suspension for a slew-foot on Buffalo’s Johan Larsson right after his first ban this season.
The day after a humiliating loss to the Washington Capitals, and with injury and illness concerns up front, the Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forward Nick Schmaltz from the AHL.
Selected 20th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, Schmaltz has split this season between the Blackhawks and the Rockford IceHogs in the minors.
He had just one goal and four points in 26 games at the NHL level as a rookie this season. He’s been productive in the AHL, with nine points in 12 games.
Per Scott Powers of The Athletic, Artem Anisimov is sick and is subsequently questionable for tomorrow, while Marcus Kruger could be out longer than the original timeline of three weeks.
The Blackhawks face the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Chicago still leads the Central Division by two points, but a Minnesota win tonight against Dallas and a win tomorrow would put the Wild in sole possession of first place.
Related: Looking to make the leap: Nick Schmaltz