Ideal start tonight for the Washington Capitals. (More on that below.)
T.J. Oshie scored on the power play less than four minutes into Saturday’s game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, finishing off a perfect passing play from Marcus Johansson.
Oshie scored again later in the period, giving Washington a 2-0 lead. Hard to imagine a worse start for the Lightning, which is fighting for an Eastern Conference wild card spot.
The Lightning is a point back of Toronto for the final wild card position. But credit Tampa Bay for shaking that off with goals from Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn 16 seconds apart to tie the game before the first intermission.
The slump is over.
Auston Matthews hadn’t scored or recorded a point in seven straight games, but he ended the drought Saturday against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
At full speed, Matthews started the rush and then finished it by deflecting home the pass from William Nylander, giving Toronto the lead in an important game for their playoff hopes.
“Auston has been — I don’t want to say carrying us all year — but he’s scored a lot of goals for this team,” Matt Martin said of Matthews to the Toronto Star. “He’s got 30-plus on the season, he’s been a catalyst offensively all year.
“We’re getting offensive production from other guys when he’s not scoring. He’s still playing well. The puck’s not going for him. We have to find ways to win. I’m confident he’ll get back on track.”
Matthews is up to 32 goals this season, which is one back of Patrik Laine for the rookie lead.
The Chicago Blackhawks visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, and they’ll do so without Marian Hossa in their lineup.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters prior to the game that Hossa is out with a lower-body injury. He did add, however, that the injury is not believed to be serious.
Hossa is 38 years old, but remains productive with 22 goals and 39 points this season, while being used on both the penalty kill and power play.
The Blackhawks have been on a tear, with eight wins in their last 10 games to lead the Minnesota Wild by three points for first place in the Central Division.
Meanwhile, Corey Crawford starts in goal for the Blackhawks.
The beastly bearded Brent Burns is suddenly going through a scoring drought.
Already with 27 goals, which is remarkable for a defenseman in a league where in mid-March the loftiest individual goal totals have yet to eclipse 40, Burns is far and away the leader among blue liners in this category. Shea Weber is his closest competition in goals by a defenseman and he’s 11 back.
And yet, Burns hasn’t scored … in his last 11 games. (Gasp!)
His last goal: Feb. 18. He scored twice in that game, as part of a brief stretch that included five goals in three games.
But here’s the thing: While he hasn’t been scoring lately, the opportunities and shot totals haven’t really slowed down at all.
In this 11-game stretch, Burns has 43 shots on goal, including 14 in his last two games. As you might expect, especially because he’s still getting chances, no one in the Sharks organization seems overtly concerned.
“The messaging from us to him is not to worry about it,” Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News. “Eight shots or 12 attempts or whatever he gets. He’s getting his looks. Those are going to go in. It’s one of those spells that he’s been in where the goalie has his number.
“Shots that would have gone in in the past maybe aren’t. Every goal scorer goes through that.”
So, to recap: Brent Burns is human after all.
He’ll look to bust this slump against the rival Anaheim Ducks tonight. San Jose has a six-point lead on Anaheim for top spot in the Pacific Division.
Related: Brent Burns is an unstoppable force right now
Well, that was unexpected. Not to mention spectacular.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen went deep into the bag of tricks to score during Friday’s shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks, pulling off the famous Peter Forsberg move on goalie Jonathan Bernier.
He did so in the ninth round of the shootout. The Sabres won the game on a successful attempt from Zemgus Girgensons in the 10th round.