One team just seems to do enough to win even with mounting injuries and illnesses. The other has been winning a lot lately, even if people mainly pay attention to their occasional attendance issues.
The Pittsburgh Penguins showed some moxie in grabbing a point on Monday, but the Florida Panthers ultimately got the “W” via a 4-3 shootout victory.
The Penguins grabbed an early 1-0 lead that they protected through most of the second period, but Jussi Jokinen scorned his former team by tying it 1-1 with about 30 seconds left in the middle frame. Jimmy Hayes scored twice early in the third period to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead, yet goals by Nick Spaling and Evgeni Malkin sent it to OT.
The Panthers generated a 37-27 shot advantage on Monday, yet Marc-Andre Fleury helped his team stay in there.
Many believe that Sean Bergenheim’s hit on Bobby Farnham served as one of the pivotal moments of the contest:
(Bergenheim also collected two assists, if you’re into more objective measures.)
Oh yeah, there was also that absolutely wicked Aleksander Barkov shootout goal:
Not to mention Roberto Luongo’s brilliant shootout save on Chris Kunitz:
Pittsburgh’s success has been remarkable with all of its health issues, as they’ve generated a point in all but one December contest, going 6-1-3 in its last 10 games. The Panthers haven’t been far behind with a 6-3-2 record in December.
There’s plenty of season left, but the Panthers made a statement that they shouldn’t be taken lightly while the Penguins showed that they’ll be a tough out even with plenty of players out of the lineup.
Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets came into Monday on an outstanding tear, but they ran into a brick wall in the Nashville Predators.
Nashville already brought a 2-0 lead into the third period, but things really got out of hand in the final frame.
Nashville scored three goals in 2:15 of ice time, chasing Bobrovsky with Craig Smith’s 4-0 goal and then beating Curtis McElhinney on the first shot he faced.
This has to be a bit of a shock for Bobrovsky, as the 26-year-old has enjoyed a Vezina-caliber turnaround in December. Coming into tonight’s game, he was 8-0-1 with a fantastic .940 save percentage.
That December save percentage is likely to tumble in a big way thanks to tonight’s game, and barring a miraculous comeback, the Blue Jackets will finally play a December game without recording a standings point.
Update: Columbus spoiled Rinne’s shutout bid, but Nashville won 5-1.
The Vancouver Canucks are erring on the side of safety with Jannik Hansen, opting to put him through further tests instead of allowing him to play against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.
Here is the full Canucks release:
In the process of reviewing Hansen’s test results the Vancouver Canucks in consultation with specialists have determined that further evaluation is required before he is cleared to play. Despite all tests being reported as normal, additional tests were ordered in the best interests of Hansen’s health and safety. As a result, Hansen will not dress in the Canucks game versus Arizona tonight.
The 28-year-old collapsed on the Canucks bench this weekend, and even though he jokingly described it as “taking a quick nap,” Vancouver seems to be leaning on the safe side with this situation.
Here’s video of that frightening moment:
Vancouver’s schedule is friendly to Hansen getting back on his feet, as the Canucks don’t play again until Sunday and only has three more games (tonight included) in 2014. Even if there are some setbacks, it wouldn’t cost him or his team too many nights.
Hansen has eight goals and 13 points in 32 games so far this season.