I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Hat trick Kane: Blackhawks get best of Penguins in fun one


The Pittsburgh Penguins were no slouches on Wednesday, yet the Chicago Blackhawks keep heating up and different players keep rising to the occasion. In tonight’s case, that translated to a 4-1 win in a game that was closer than the score would indicate.

It was also a heck of a ride.

Patrick Kane grabs the biggest headlines with a hat trick in this one, giving him seven goals – including two hat tricks – in his past three games.

He wasn’t the only forward who had a great game, though. Richard Panik bamboozled Evgeni Malkin for a true goal of the year candidate. Nick Schmaltz played a big role in Kane’s hat trick, collecting two impressive assists before No. 88 got an empty-netter.

(Schmaltz is someone teams might need to gameplan for, by the way. He’s now on a five-game point streak with two goals and seven assists.)

Finally, Scott Darling played a huge role in this game not being a nail-biter. He stopped 36 of 37 Penguins shots to spoil the “Marc-Andre Fleury is still here” party.

Sidney Crosby made a ton of great plays, but Darling was game for all of them, only allowing a fantastic Scott Wilson tally. About the only bad news for Chicago was that Artem Anisimov suffered an injury.

The Penguins lose their tiebreaker advantage for the second spot in the Metro after this loss. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks at least give themselves a shot at catching the Minnesota Wild for the Central title.

Whatever the case may be, the Blackhawks are making a serious statement that they’re a legitimate contender in the West, rather than just “hanging on.”

In other words, while the odds might still be against it, you can get away with at least daydreaming about Wednesday being a Stanley Cup Final preview. If such a series happened … let’s hope tonight served as an appetizer for that scenario.

Naturally, there’s a long way to go for that to happen, but both teams looked fantastic tonight.

Comic relief: Fan offers official glasses during review (Video)

It turns out Ondrej Palat missing a wide-open net might not be the funniest moment from Wednesday’s eventual 4-3 overtime win for the Lightning over the Hurricanes.

(Although comedy is subjective.)

During a goal review, a fan offered officials glasses in a moment that will probably tickle many a person who’s booed a call. Or anyone who just enjoys a lighthearted bit of trolling.

Someone shared a screen grab of the … charitable moment.

If you want a little more substance for clicking, enjoy this absurd bit of magic from Jonathan Drouin as a bonus:

Drouin can make you look as silly as handing a ref your glasses.

Video: Fleury’s falling save; Panik dekes Malkin for tremendous goal

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Whether by choice or a lack of offers, Marc-Andre Fleury is still with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He celebrated that fact with one of the stranger (and more impressive) sequences you’ll see during Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fleury made consecutive stops, totaling robbing Brent Seabrook on a rebound with the sort of collapsing stop you seldom see.

That save kept the Blackhawks lead at just 1-0 (Patrick Kane‘s goal is worth watching, by the way), opening the door for an outstanding backhand goal by Scott Wilson.

Here’s the MAF GIF:

Richard Panik made a tremendous play to put the Blackhawks back up 2-1 to end the period, however:

Wow. Here’s Panik getting around Evgeni Malkin in jaw-dropping fashion:

If the second period’s brilliant play carries over to the third, it could be quite the finish. The game’s on NBCSN and you can stream it here.

Poor Ondrej Palat



So, here’s a funny one, unless you are:

  • Ondrej Palat
  • Nikita Kucherov, though he does have license to rib Palat for … life?
  • A Tampa Bay Lightning fan without a sense of humor.

The rest of us? We’ll be giggling after watching a loop of Palat somehow missing the net altogether after a beautiful Kucherov pass. A goal would have tied Wednesday’s Carolina Hurricanes – Tampa Bay Lightning game, but alas, it was not to be.


Palat already has an assist in this one, so this obviously isn’t a knock on his overall game. Really, his general goodness just makes that clip funnier.

Unless you’re … well, go back to that list.

Landeskog, Duchene on staying with Avs; McKenzie explains lack of trade

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With Kevin Shattenkirk joining the Capitals, the trade deadline’s biggest targets were Colorado forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene. Once the deadline passed, both remained members of the Avalanche.

Both seemed relieved to get beyond the speculation … at least for now.

“I’m glad it’s over. It’s nice to be able to move on,” Duchene said. “I owe it to this team to be present, mind and body.”

It sounds like Landeskog is glad he can still be this team’s captain.

Of course, for some, the lack of movement merely means that the questions transition from the trade deadline to the off-season.

With Duchene at 26 and Landeskog at 24, it’s conceivable that the Avalanche may decide that they want those two forwards to remain core guys after months of reflection. It’s plausible to picture a rebuild working well with one or both of them still in the fold.

Even so, their ages and abilities make them desirable trade targets, and as insider Bob McKenzie discusses in the video above this post’s headline, the market is likely to be larger for each player during the summer.

So maybe neither guy should get too comfortable.