Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury entered the 2013-14 campaign with something to prove and he got off to a great start Thursday night. Fleury turned aside 27 shots, including a late third period penalty shot, to pick up his 250th victory and 24th shutout.
It would be tempting to make that event into some grand statement after his disastrous showing in the 2013 playoffs, but the Penguins and Fleury kept level heads with 81 games left to go. They did, however, take this opportunity to assert that they’ve never lost faith in Fleury.
“This guy’s a champion. He’s a great teammate. I’m happy for him. He played awesome …
“(But) I don’t think it means as much as you might think. We’ve had confidence and will have confidence in Flower.”
Ultimately it was a strong performance and Fleury’s achieved a significant milestone, but it’s hard to read too much into this start. Fleury has endured four rough playoff runs in a row, but he’s remained strong in the regular season.
Like the rest of the Penguins, Fleury could have a dominant 2013-14 campaign, but that’s not what he’ll be judged on. If he wants to move past the concerns surrounding him, then he’ll need to have some outings like this in the playoffs.
The Panthers keep overcoming mostly hit-or-miss (and sometimes hit by injuries) goaltending by scoring, a lot. Tuesday’s 4-3 win against the Blackhawks marks Florida’s sixth win in a row. They’ve scored at least four goals in every game during that streak.
The Panthers’ strong play extends beyond this streak. Florida carried a strong 13-4-0 run in its last 17 games.
They closed off a three-game road trip, all with wins. They return with another three-game road trip (so technically, it’s six in a row on the road). If they stand strong after this stretch, it would be quite a testament to what Coach Q & Co. are building.
Vatrano caught fire during this six-game winning streak. Tuesday represents the peak of that run, as the winger generated his second NHL hat trick. Vatrano also extended his point streak to five games (five goals, four assists for nine points).
He showed flashes of brilliance in Boston, and has largely converted that into a solid niche with Florida. Vatrano quietly scored 24 goals and 39 points last season. Tuesday’s outburst places Vatrano at 14 goals and 27 points for 2019-20.
Florida needed all three of Vatrano’s goals, as his third ended up being the game-winner. The Panthers were up as much as 3-0 and 4-1, so Chicago fought back, but not enough.
The Rangers generated a massive 42-18 shots on goal advantage on Tuesday, but the Islanders held on for a 4-2 win. Getting outchanced like that remains a cause for concern, but Griess bailed the Isles out with 40 saves.
(Quick thought: is it possible Barry Trotz needs to loosen up when the Islanders hold leads? They lost after coughing up a big one against Washington, and almost invited the Rangers to creep back in on Tuesday.)
Bailey generated three points (1G, 2A), so maybe you’d call him the bigger star over Greiss?
Justin WIlliams continues to make an early impact for Carolina. After producing the shootout-deciding goal in his return, Williams fired in two goals on Tuesday. Not bad, considering his modest 11:45 time on ice.
Teravainen gets the overall edge, though. Like Bailey, Teravainen scored a goal and two assists for three points. The shifty Finn is backing up last season’s almost point-per-game play (76 points in 82 GP), with similar results (48 points in 50 GP).
Andrei Svechnikov demands a mention of his own. The splendid sophomore collected two assists, placing Svechnikov close behind Teravainen with 45 points in 50 GP.
Kreider replaces Panarin at All-Star Game
The Rangers played without Artemi Panarin thanks to an injury. It appears that they’ll have a different All-Star Game representative, as Chris Kreider will replace him.
The Panthers’ .769 points percentage since Christmas ties the Blue Jackets as the league’s second-best mark, according to Sportsnet. The Lightning rank first at .846 since Dec. 25.
Patrick Kane decided not to rest after hitting 1,000 points. He extended his point streak to 11 games (5G, 11A) on Tuesday. Kane joined David Pastrnak as the only two players with two 11+ game point streaks in 2019-20, via NHL PR.
The Flyers need to make the most of each game to stay in the playoff race. Philadelphia’s 3-0 win against the Penguins wasn’t pretty — except where it needed to be.
Flyers hang in the playoff race
Actually, from a defensive standpoint, it was pristine. Brian Elliott only needed to make 19 saves for his first shutout of 2019-20. The Flyers asserted overall, generating a 30-19 shots on goal advantage.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin managed just three SOG in this one. Both teams eye the All-Star break, so maybe there was the hockey equivalent of “Senioritis.” Philly hit the books enough to get the shutout, though.
An empty-net goal exaggerated the score, but 3-0 felt fitting for how well Philadelphia played. Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk scored all of the goals the Flyers needed, while Justin Braun iced it with the ENG.
The Flyers improved their record to 27-17-6 (60 standings points in 50 games played). The bad news is that, if the playoffs began today, the Flyers would be out. The better news is that Philly didn’t lose ground in what could be tight races for the final East wild-card spots. The Hurricanes won their Tuesday game, so Philly risked losing ground:
Flyers, Penguins have been playing well lately
Again, the Penguins failed to impress in this one. They were the schoolkids staring at the clock at the end of class.
The Flyers earned this win, even if it was the equivalent to providing a boring lecture (or clogging passing lanes). Alain Vigneault’s group won four of its last five games.
Overall, the Penguins have been loading up points. This loss ended a two-game winning streak, and Pittsburgh is now 6-2-0 in its last eight.
The Penguins and Flyers meet again in Pittsburgh when their schedules resume. Maybe they’ll have to share reports about how they spent their All-Star breaks/summer vacations?
The Panthers are playing in Chicago on Tuesday, which means the Blackhawks got a chance to welcome back Joel Quenneville. Coach Q enjoyed an added reason to smile, as the team also honored Patrick Kanehitting the 1,000-point plateau.
The Blackhawks shared some Quenneville stats in welcoming him back and remembering the good times:
Chicago made nine playoff appearances under Coach Q, winning 76 postseason contests. Oh yeah, they also won three Stanley Cups with Quenneville. Sort of relevant too.
Quenneville clearly enjoyed himself in celebrating the victories, in the locker room and during parades.
He yelled more than a bit, as the video captured.
Tough to blame Quenneville for being all smiles, right?
Again, the Blackhawks celebrated Kane’s milestone as well:
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Penguins travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers in the second of four meetings between the two clubs this season. The Pens dominated the first meeting on home ice back on Oct. 29, defeating their cross-state rival, 7-1. Sidney Crosby tallied a goal and two assists, while Matt Murray stopped 29 of 30 shots to secure the victory.
These teams will meet Tuesday night in Philly and then again 10 days later in Pittsburgh on Jan. 31 as part of a home and home series that bookends both the All-Star weekend as well as both teams bye weeks.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 4-3 win at home over the defending Eastern Conference champion Bruins on Sunday afternoon. Matt Murray surrendered two goals on the first three shots that he faced and was jeered by the home crowd. David Pastrnak then increased the lead to three with just under five minutes to play in the opening period by netting his league-leading 37th tally of the season, although Jack Johnson inadvertently redirected the puck into his own net. Dominik Simon cut the lead to two 1:27 later on a nice pass from Sidney Crosby from behind the and then Crosby added another helper just 33 seconds into the second period on a pretty between-the- legs pass to Teddy Blueger. Jack Johnson (shorthanded) and Bryan Rust each scored in the third period to help claim the comeback win.
The Flyers continued their winning ways at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night, defeating the Kings 4-1. All-Star Travis Konecny recorded two goals to help pace Philly, while Brian Elliott stopped 34 of 35 shots to capture his 11th win of the season.
After losing to the Canadiens last Thursday, Alain Vigneault switched up the lines Saturday against Los Angeles. Claude Giroux was flanked by James van Riemsdyk and Konecny and the line shakeup appeared to be a success. The Alphabet Soup line, commonly known as JVR, G and TK, respectively, combined to total seven points, while van Riemsdyk tallied his second three-point game of the season and snapped a 12-game goal drought in the 4-1 win.
Gord Miller, Mike Milbury and AJ Mleczko will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, hosted by Kathryn Tappen and analysts Keith Jones and Ben Lovejoy.