The Columbus Blue Jackets are on their way to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season and only the third time in franchise history. They officially punched their tickets to the postseason on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
It was a rather unconventional win, too, at least when you consider how the Blue Jackets scored their goals — two penalty shots (one of which came while shorthanded), a shorthanded goal and an empty net.
Not really the way most teams draw it up, but it worked for the Blue Jackets on Sunday.
It is only the third time in NHL history that a team has scored on two penalty shots in the same game.
Lukas Sedlak opened the scoring for Columbus early in the first period when he scored on his first career penalty shot attempt after he was hooked on a breakaway by Devils captain Andy Greene. The Blue Jackets added to that lead just a few minutes later when Boone Jenner, following an incredible individual effort, was able to get a fortunate bounce on a shot from below the goal line.
Midway through the second period Brandon Dubinsky scored on a penalty shot of his own.
Along with clinching a playoff spot on Sunday the Blue Jackets also reached the 100-point mark for the first time in franchise history. For a team that finished the 2015-16 season as one of the NHL’s worst and entered this season with almost no expectations this has been a pretty drastic one-year turnaround as they are now tied with the Washington Capitals for the best record in the NHL with less than a month to play in the regular season. Probably not what anybody expected to see at the start of the year.
New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot against the Philadelphia Flyers Friday.
The alternate captain blocked a shot from Philippe Myers with 7:40 remaining in the opening period. He played one more shift for 10 seconds before heading to the locker room. The Rangers have not provided a timeline for the injury.
The Vegas Golden Knights have been one of the league’s hottest teams over the past month and will be looking to extend their current winning streak to eight games on Friday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.
Coach Pete DeBoer had some significant lineup news ahead of the game on Friday afternoon, including a potentially significant injury.
First, is the news that big trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner will be making his first start in goal for the team. The Golden Knights acquired Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks just ahead of the NHL trade deadline on Monday for a draft pick and a prospect. Lehner has been one of the league’s best goalies for the past two years and alongside Marc-Andre Fleury should give them one of the league’s best goaltending duos.
The far more serious news, though, was the announcement that forward Mark Stone will not play on Friday due to a lower-body injury.
DeBoer had no immediate information on how long Stone could be out, only to say that he is still being evaluated.
When asked if it could potentially be a long-term injury DeBoer said “There’s always fear. We don’t know, but we’ll see,” via NHL.com.
Stone is one of the league’s best all-around forwards and has not only been a point-per-game player for the past three seasons, he is also one of the best defensive forwards in the league. He finished the 2018-19 season as the top runner-up for the Selke Trophy, something that has become almost unheard of for a winger.
The Golden Knights enter Friday’s game in first place in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was busy at the NHL trade deadline adding Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Ennis to his roster in an effort to improve its depth. But just two games later his team has already lost one of those new players to injury.
The Oilers announced on Friday that Green, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Kyle Brodziak and a draft pick, will be sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks due to an MCL sprain.
That is the way things seem to be going for the Oilers right now as injuries keep adding up throughout their roster.
Randi Marshall reports that New York governor Andrew Cuomo will announce on Saturday that the Islanders will play any home playoff games this season and all of their 2020-21 home schedule at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders are currently building a new arena by Belmont Park race track which is expected to be ready in time for the 2021-22 NHL season. The franchise played all of its home games at the Coliseum from 1972-2015 before moving to Brooklyn full-time in 2015. That lasted until 2018 when they split home games at both arenas, with Nassau Coliseum playing host to their Round 1 matchup against the Penguins and Barclays for their second round series against the Hurricanes.
While Barclays Center helped keep the Islanders in New York, it has not been the easiest arena to travel to for fans. The ability to get there via mass transit was a positive that the Coliseum doesn’t have. Yet when the Islanders returned back to Long Island last season, there was plenty nostalgia over the building that was home for the franchise’s glory days.
In September the Islanders broke ground on the new 19,000-seat arena by Belmont Park which is less than 10 miles from Nassau Coliseum.