James O'Brien

Jets end Caps’ winning streak after deeply bizarre goal review

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There was some rough stuff between the Capitals and Jets early in Saturday’s game, but the contest ended in an even rougher fashion.

It only makes too much sense that the on-ice official oddly stuttered in announcing that Mark Scheifele‘s overtime game-winner counted, as it was a very … stilted review process.

You can see the decisive goal (and much of the strange theater) in the video above.

Here’s the league’s official explanation via its Situation Room Blog.

At 4:40 of overtime in the Capitals/Jets game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach’s Challenge to examine whether Winnipeg was off-side prior to Mark Scheifele’s goal.

Review was not conclusive in determining whether Winnipeg was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the On-Ice Official(s) will be instructed to confirm their original call.”

Therefore the original call stands – good goal Winnipeg Jets.

Controversy and confusion aside, the goal did count, so Winnipeg’s 2-1 OT win ended Washington’s winning streak at six games.

That funky finish was a field day for those who have issues with the review system, particularly with offside calls leading to more than a few controversies early in 2015-16.

Goalie duel

That strange bit of drama took some of the spotlight away from two H-named goaltenders who are on impressive hot streaks.

It’s no surprise that Braden Holtby is playing well.

Holtby stopped 34 out of 36 shots in this one, and while his eight-game winning run ended along with Washington’s team streak hitting a wall, he’s playing at the level we saw in his near-Vezina-caliber 2014-15 campaign.

The more fascinating story might be Connor Hellebuyck.

He’s now on a three-game winning streak in which he’s allowed a single goal in each victory. This marked his best work yet, as he turned aside 37 out of 38 shots.

With Ondrej Pavelec hurt and Michael Hutchinson struggling, Hellebuyck may just fuel more changes in Winnipeg’s net. Considering how brutal the Central Division is right now, it’s likely that Paul Maurice will be happy to ride the hot hand.

There’s no doubt that Hellebuyck is that play right now.

Video: Hits, brawls, bad feelings between Caps and Jets

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The Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals aren’t that far removed from being division rivals, so perhaps there are some residual bad feelings from those Southeast seasons?

Maybe not, but either way, the two teams erupted into a brawl highlighted by Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele, Tom Wilson and Michael Latta.

The Capitals were not pleased that Winnipeg ended up with a man advantage following this scene, and those sour feelings were only heightened when Andrew Ladd scored a power-play tally late in the opening frame.

There was also this Anthony Peluso hit on Wilson:

Vlasic’s injury status is murky for Sharks (beyond being out tonight)

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Anthony Duclair
AP
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It’s unclear how bad Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s injury is, at least beyond it being certain that he won’t play in the San Jose Sharks’ Saturday skirmish against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer only said that he did not know how serious the issue is, according to CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz.

Vlasic is one of those guys who’s well-known to hardcore hockey fans, and maybe not even that under-the-radar overall (he was an Olympian, after all).

It sounds like the Sharks might scramble a bit on the blueline, as Kurz explains:

Mirco Mueller was recalled from the Barracuda on Saturday morning to take Vlasic’s spot on the roster, but the defense pairs headed into the game with Tampa Bay are unclear. Rookie Dylan DeMelo also remains with the team after he was recalled on Friday morning.

Letang is out, but Maatta’s in for Penguins

Kris Letang, Dylan Larkin
AP
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It’s a good news/bad news situation for two key Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen who struggle to stay healthy.

The bad: Kris Letang cannot play against the Los Angeles Kings this late afternoon.

The good: Olli Maatta is back in the lineup, however.

This situation may require some tinkering.

The Penguins didn’t reveal what, exactly, is ailing Letang. It sounds like it’s a little touch-and-go at the moment.

The odd (but noteworthy) rise of the Red Wings

Jonathan Ericsson, Dylan Larkin, Danny DeKeyser
AP
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Remember how the Detroit Red Wings carried some dark horse potential into the season, then sagged and everyone assumed they were dead weight without Mike Babcock?

It turns out that might not be true.

It’s OK if that slipped under your radar, though.

That’s because the Red Wings’ red-hot run has lacked in a certain amount of “style points,” with Thursday’s 5-1 clubbing of the Arizona Coyotes being a rare exception. Just look at the small margin of error during this still fairly promising few weeks:

Nov. 16: 4-3 OT win at Ottawa
Nov. 18: 2-1 OT loss vs. Washington
Nov. 20: 3-2 win vs. Los Angeles
Nov. 21: 4-3 OT win at St. Louis
Nov. 25: 3-2 OT loss vs. Boston
Nov. 27: 4-3 OT win vs. Edmonton
Nov. 29: 2-1 OT loss vs. Florida
Dec. 1: 5-4 shootout win vs. Buffalo
Thursday night: 5-1 win vs. Arizona

Heading into that victory against Ottawa, the Red Wings were the definition of average at 8-8-1. Now they’re 14-8-4, a distant second in the Atlantic division … but above the wild card rabble.

Kinda sneaks up on some of us, right?

Now, this doesn’t mean that the Red Wings are free-and-clear. That was a fairly home-heavy schedule, and they’re not exactly blowing non-Coyotes opponents out.

Still, considering all the naysayers burying the post-Babs Red Wings mere weeks ago, this is an awfully interesting stretch.