Brooks Orpik scored one of the unlikeliest game-winning goals in Cup Final history

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Brooks Orpik is a lot of things as an NHL player.

He is a tough, physical defender that has been accomplished enough at his craft to play more than 1,100 games (regular season and playoffs combined) at the highest level. He is a Stanley Cup champion and an Olympic Silver Medalist. He is, on many occasions, a quotable player, if you care about that sort of thing.

One thing that he is not as an NHL player? A goal-scorer.

This is not an insult. This is not a slight on him as a player. This is simply an objective, statistical fact that really can not be disputed. He simply does not score goals. He is not an offensive player in any way. In his 1,128 career games he has scored a total of 19 goals at the NHL level. This fact is what made his goal in the second period of the Washington Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night such a stunning moment.

It was not only just the 19th goal of his NHL career, it was his first goal since February 26, 2016, a goal-less drought of 220 consecutive games.

It also goes in the books as a game-winning goal in a Stanley Cup Final game and only adds to the shock.

Given that Orpik was probably the least likely option on the Capitals roster to score a game-winning goal in this series it made me ask myself a totally random question: Is Brooks Orpik the unlikeliest player to score a game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final?

This is, after all, a player that averages less than two goals for every 82 games he played.

So let’s do a little digging.

Using the hockey-reference database was able to filter out every game-winning goal in a Stanley Cup Final game dating back to the 1987 series, so just a little more than three decades worth of games. From there, I looked at every player that scored a game-winning goal and looked at which players had the lowest goals-per-game average (again, regular and playoff games combined).

These are the bottom-15 players on that list.

Not only is Orpik at the top of that list, there is really almost nobody close to him.

Fun list here.

Obviously that is a lot of “stay-at-home” defenders that are not known for their offense. Freddy Gaudreau is a fascinating one at the top because he actually scored two game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Final a year ago for the Nashville Predators.

There are also a couple of winners in Cup-clinching games on there, including Ulf Samuelsson (Game 6, 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Minnesota North Stars) and Uwe Krupp (Game 4, 1996, Colorado Avalanche vs. Florida Panthers).

There is obviously a lot of randomness and good timing here. If Vegas doesn’t score a goal later in the second period to make it a one-goal game Alex Ovechkin gets credit for the winning goal and gets another checkmark in his favor in the Conn Smythe race and Orpik’s goal is just an insurance marker. The fact Orpik scored a goal in any situation is an eyebrow raiser because it simply does not happen very often. The fact all of the stars aligned in a way to allow him to get a game-winning goal in a Stanley Cup Final game is just … stunning and not at all what anybody could have reasonably expected.

Sometimes to win a championship you need some unexpected contributions like this. The Capitals are getting a bunch of them right now. That is a pretty good sign.

MORE:
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Petersen gets first win for Kings; Skinner scores again for Sabres

AP
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Three Stars

1. Cal Petersen, Los Angeles Kings. With injuries to Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell, the Kings have had to resort to their third-and fourth-string goalies Cal Petersen and Peter Budaj. On Friday night in Chicago it was Petersen getting the start and he was absolutely fantastic in a 2-1 shootout win over the Blackhawks stopping 34 shots through regulation and overtime to pick up his first NHL win. This is only the sixth win of the season for a Kings team that has struggled from the start. It also snapped what had been a three-game losing streak. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have now lost nine of their past 10 and have managed just four goals in their past four games.

2. Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres. Things are starting to look good for the Buffalo Sabres who have now won four in a row and five of their past six thanks to a 2-1 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. At the center of this recent surge has been Jeff Skinner, their biggest offseason acquisition. His goal early in the third period on Friday was the game-tying goal and his 14th of the season, which keeps him in second place in the league’s goal-scoring race. He has been especially hot lately with five goals in his past four games and 13 goals in his past 12 games. He has been everything the team hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer.

3. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues. After his 10-game point streak came to an end on Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Ryan O’Reilly was able to get back on the scoresheet with a pair of goals on Friday in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. O’Reilly has been the Blues’ best player by a substantial margin this season and is already up to 10 goals and 23 total points this season in only 17 games.

Highlights of the Night

The Washington Capitals were 3-2 overtime winners in Colorado on Friday night and it was Devante Smith-Pelly getting them on the board by finishing this beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play.

Morgan Rielly continued his incredible season on Friday night with the game-winning overtime goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the win Toronto takes over the top spot in the NHL standings while Rielly continues to pace all defenders with 25 points in 20 games. Ottawa Senators rookie Thomas Chabot and San Jose Sharks defender Brent Burns are the only other players at the position with more than 20 points so far this season.

Factoids

This is a tremendous stat from the Washington Capitals-Colorado Avalanche game, where both Avalanche goalies are former long-time Capitals netminders, and the Capitals two goalies on Friday have barely played for the team.

The Dallas Stars win over the Boston Bruins did not have a lot of offense, but it certainly had a lot of excitement thanks in large part to Brad Marchand. Still, it was the Stars getting the 1-0 overtime win. That is something that had never happened in Stars franchise history.

 

Scores

Dallas Stars 1, Boston Bruins 0 (OT)

Buffalo Sabres 2, Winnipeg Jets 1 (SO)

Los Angeles Kings 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO)

Washington Capitals 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)

St. Louis Blues 4, Vegas Golden Knights 1

Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (OT)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Brad Marchand pulls a Roger Neilson, waves ‘white flag’

Fox Southwest
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It was another eventful for night for Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

After a series of penalties in the second period of his team’s 1-0 overtime loss in Dallas, he decided to pull a Roger Neilson and wave the white flag by sticking a towel on the blade of his hockey stick and … well … waving it from the penalty box. This was presumably a form of surrendering to the referees.

Or simply Brad Marchand doing Brad Marchand things.

His adventure started in the second period when he was given a double-minor for roughing Radek Faksa after Marchand came to the defense of his linemate, Patrice Bergeron, who was sent flying into the boards at the hands of Faksa. Bergeron briefly exited the game before returning.

Here is the entire sequence.

After serving his four minutes for that altercation, Marchand returned to the ice and was almost immediately sent back to the box for slashing stars goalie Ben Bishop.

Nobody from Boston liked the call at all, with Marchand at being at the top of the list.

That was when he waved the white flag and was sent off for 10 additional minutes.

That might look familiar to you because you might recall former long-time NHL coach Roger Neilson doing something similar during the 1982 playoffs when he was coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Marchand has been in rare form this season, even for him. Earlier this month he was given a 10-minute misconduct for mocking Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons for embellishing a high-sticking call, which came after he bloodied Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller in the season-opener after Eller taunted the Bruins’ bench.

In the playoffs the NHL had to instruct Marchand to stop licking opposing players.

No matter what you think of Marchand as a player you at least have to admit this: It is never boring with him around.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Josh Archibald suspended two games for hit on Ryan Hartman

via NHL DoPS
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After holding a hearing with Josh Archibald earlier on Friday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety suspended the Arizona Coyotes forward two games for his “high, hard hit” on Ryan Hartman of the Nashville Predators.

The league’s explanation video explains that Hartman’s head was “the main point of contact” and that contact with the head was avoidable.

During the game itself (a 2-1 win for the Coyotes on Thursday), Archibald received a minor penalty. He doesn’t have a history of supplemental discipline at the NHL level, which may have prompted a lighter punishment. Hartman eventually returned to that loss for Nashville.

Here’s the explanation video via the NHL’s DPoS:

Archibald will be eligible to play for the Coyotes again on Nov. 23.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Penguins’ Matt Cullen fined $1,000 by NHL for dangerous trip

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NEW YORK (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cullen has been fined $1,000 by the NHL for a dangerous trip of Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller.

The infraction came during the first period of Thursday night’s game, a 4-3 victory by Tampa Bay. Cullen was assessed a minor penalty for tripping.

In announcing the fine, the league said Friday the money will go the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.