NHL Rink Wrap: Penguins score 11 goals; Kessel second on ‘ironman’ list

crosby penguins
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Sunday’s top NHL players

Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Do you give someone less credit for a big game when their team just decimates an overmatched opponent? That’s about the only way you can deny Evgeni Malkin, who generated a hat trick and an assist as the Penguins blew out the Red Wings 11-2.

This marks the 15th hat trick for Evgeni Malkin (13 in the regular season, two in postseason play). Malkin last generated a hat trick on Jan. 20, 2018 against the Sharks.

Malkin’s hat trick + assist leaves him at 32 points (16G, 16A) in 30 games.

If it wasn’t already clear, Malkin seems to have shaken off a six-game pointless streak, which took place from March 3-17. The Penguins are no strangers to playing without Malkin, yet it’s worth wondering just how much scarier this team could be if he can truly remain healthy come playoff time.

(Unfortunately, that’s almost always a big “if.”)

Scroll for more on those 11 goals from the Penguins.

Sunday NHL highlights

Watch the Penguins score those 11 goals in these highlights/lowlights for the Red Wings.

Nathan MacKinnon didn’t take kindly to Matt Dumba‘s hit on Mikko Rantanen, so there was a fight. On one hand, kudos to MacKinnon for sticking up for a teammate (and regular running mate). On the other hand, there’s the worry about his hands, as you can always injure yourself in a fight. For an Avalanche team that’s quietly dealt with quite a few injury issues for years, they may want to ask MacKinnon to outsource that fighting job in the future.

Kevin Fiala scored just 15 seconds into OT to secure the extra point (and the last laugh) for Minny:

Frankly, most of the Twitter reactions to Will Smith slapping (or fake-slapping?) Chris Rock compared the Oscars to pro wrestling. There’s at least one strong hockey joke for the moment, too, however:

Gang, Ilya Mikheyev is on quite the run lately.

K'Andre Miller capped a nice bit of work from the Rangers to beat the Sabres in overtime:

Sunday NHL Takeaways

2022 PHF Isobel Cup Final set; Frozen Four also determined

It was a busy Sunday (and weekend) for the hockey world beyond the NHL.

  • The Boston Pride will face the Connecticut Whale in the 2022 PHF Isobel Cup Final on Monday after both teams won their semifinal matchups.
  • Michigan will take on Denver and Minnesota draws Minnesota St. in the Frozen Four. Those games take place on April 7, then the championship contest is on April 9.

Penguins pulverize Red Wings with 11 goals


At some point, blowouts must start to feel downright mean. The Penguins dropped an absurd 11 goals on the Red Wings, who only managed two goals in response.

While the Penguins boast some historic scorers (active and retired, and active outside the NHL), they don’t score 11 goals every day, or year. The team notes they last scored that many on Nov. 16, 1993 against the hated Flyers.

Interestingly, the Penguins became the first team to reach 11 goals in the salary cap era.

This marks the fifth 11+ goal game for the Penguins, with the team mark being 12. That’s where that rich history business crops up again.

Kessel: 965 games in a row, second only to Yandle for longest “ironman” streak

Read this post for more, including musings about how both players might struggle to find teams interested in extending their streaks. Maybe?

Wild push streak to six straight wins; MacKinnon fights Dumba

If you jumped straight to the takeaways, scroll back up for Nathan MacKinnon vs. Matt Dumba. Sounds like these two teams have some ill will beyond that specific encounter:

Maybe the Avalanche and Wild are planting seeds for a potentially enthralling second-round series? OK, that’s thinking too far ahead.

That said, we’re witnessing the latest upswing from the hot-and-cold Wild. This marks the Wild’s sixth win in a row, making Minnesota the first team in the NHL to rack up three winning streaks of at least six games this season.

Things can change, but the Wild look almost certain to grab the Central Division’s second spot, or at least finish in the top three. The Avalanche look most likely to win the Presidents’ Trophy, not just the division.

Could these teams be on a collision course? Hopefully. After all, it’s entertaining — if hard on the knuckles — when they collide.

Monday’s big story

Another possible playoff preview in Capitals vs. Hurricanes?

After the NHL action on Sunday, the Hurricanes lag ever so slightly behind the Panthers in the race to get the East’s top seed. Again, things could change, but taking the conference’s top spot sure looks like it would translate into meeting the Capitals in the first round.

So, it wouldn’t take much for Monday’s Capitals – Hurricanes game to be a playoff preview, possibly to open the postseason. (Wild cards could get thrown into different divisional brackets, depending upon seeding.)

In 2018-19, the Hurricanes held off the Capitals in a Game 7. That opening round defeat ended the Capitals’ attempt to repeat, and Washington hasn’t won a playoff series since.

With years past, the Hurricanes are only clearer favorites against the Capitals. That said, Washington’s game travels well. While the Capitals are just 16-13-5 at home, they’ve produced an impressive 21-7-5 record. Between that and employing sustained stars such as Alex Ovechkin, it would be foolish to dismiss the Caps as an upset threat. Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of that spoiler potential on Monday?

Sunday NHL scores

Lightning 4, Islanders 1
Rangers 5, Sabres 4 (OT)
Penguins 11(!), Red Wings 2
Predators 5, Flyers 4
Wild 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 2
Devils 3, Canadiens 2 (SO)
Jets 2, Coyotes 1 (OT)

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.

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    Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

    Andrei Kuzmenko
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

    The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

    The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

    Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

    His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

    Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

    He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

    He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

    A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

    Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.

    Hurricanes top Stars in OT to win matchup of 1st-place teams

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    DALLAS – Martin Necas scored 1:34 into overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars in a matchup of division leaders Wednesday night.

    Sebastian Aho had a short-handed goal and Brent Burns also scored for the Hurricanes, who lead the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference. The game-winner was Necas’ 19th goal this season.

    Dallas is still atop the Western Conference, and the Central Division, after its second consecutive 3-2 overtime loss at home. Jason Robertson scored his 33rd goal for the Stars, and 19-year-old rookie Wyatt Johnston got his 13th.

    Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen didn’t return after the first intermission because of an upper-body injury, soon after a strange sequence that ended with Robertson scoring on a shot from what seemed to be an impossible angle.

    The puck was bouncing on the ice behind Andersen and settled against the post after Tyler Seguin‘s shot before the goalie was able to swipe it away to his right. Robertson then shot from behind Andersen, and the puck apparently ricocheted off him and into the net for a 2-1 Dallas lead. Robertson’s 33rd goal matched his assists total.

    Antti Raanta replaced Andersen and stopped all 15 shots he faced – none in overtime – after the starter had four saves. Raanta had to shake off getting struck in the head by Mason Marchment‘s stick when the Stars forward was behind the net fighting for the puck midway through the third period.

    Stars goalie Jake Oettinger stopped 22 shots, including a glove save of Andrei Svechnikov‘s wrister with just more than five minutes left in regulation.

    Aho’s 200th career goal put Carolina up 1-0 midway through the first period. The Stars got even just more than two minutes later when Johnston scored unassisted after a faceoff.

    Johnston also had a shot ricochet off the post with just under six minutes left.

    In between the first two goals, Oettinger went into a fully extended split, with his right skate against the post, to deny Paul Stastny‘s attempt to knock in a loose puck.

    Burns tied the game at 2 in the second period, getting the puck after a faceoff, then skating over the top of the circle and scoring top shelf over Oettinger’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Marchment was coming out of the penalty box at the same time Carolina made an errant pass in the second period. He had a breakaway attempt, but couldn’t get enough control of the puck to get off a quality shot. … Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce and Stars center Luke Glendening both got five-minute penalties for fighting in the second period.


    Hurricanes: Will play San Jose on Friday night in the first of three consecutive home games.

    Stars: Host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in their last game before the All-Star break.

    Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry out until after the All-Star break

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry‘s on-again, off-again season is now off again.

    Coach Mike Sullivan said that the two-time All-Star will miss at least two games with an upper-body injury.

    Jarry was scheduled to start against Florida but reported an upper-body issue when he arrived at PPG Paints Arena. Casey DeSmith got the last-second start as the Penguins pulled out a wild 7-6 victory over the Panthers.

    Jarry is out through at least the All-Star break. Pittsburgh plays at Washington and then hosts San Jose before getting a full week off.

    The 27-year-old Jarry has played well when he’s been in the lineup, posting a 16-5-5 record with a 2.65 goals-against average in 27 games. His availability, however, has been an issue of late. He missed more than two weeks earlier this month after being injured against Boston in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

    The Penguins are not as sharp when Jarry is out. Pittsburgh is 8-10-3 with DeSmith or Dustin Tokarski in goal this season. The Penguins recalled Tokarski from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to back up DeSmith during Jarry’s absence.

    Letang scores twice in return, Penguins beat Panthers 7-6 in OT

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    PITTSBURGH – Amid a nightmarish season off the ice, Kris Letang has been searching for joy. A sense of normalcy.

    He found a little of both.

    The veteran Pittsburgh defenseman scored twice in his return from a lower-body injury, the second with 54 seconds left in overtime to give the Penguins a 7-6 victory over Florida.

    “I was just happy to be out there,” Letang said. “Be in the atmosphere of the team.”

    Letang’s 17th season with Pittsburgh has been pockmarked by health issues and a profound sense of loss. He missed two weeks after suffering the second stroke of his career shortly after Thanksgiving. He then tweaked something in a loss to Detroit on Dec. 28.

    His father died unexpectedly a few days later, and Letang spent an extended amount of time with his family in his native Montreal, with his teammates making an unexpected stop to join Letang for his father’s wake at the end of a West Coast swing earlier this month.

    The Penguins activated him off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon. Letang responded with four points in a rollicking game that featured 13 goals, the last Letang’s one-timer from just above the left circle on the power play that gave Pittsburgh just its fourth win in 12 overtime games this season.

    “It was kind of surreal, you know?” Letang said. “I didn’t know what to think or how it was going to go. These guys supported me for the last month… it’s just great to be back.”

    The Penguins, currently in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, opened up a small bit of breathing room over the ninth-place Panthers by beating Florida for the 18th time in its last 21 trips to Pittsburgh.

    Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Danton Heinen each had a goal and two assists for The Penguins. Rickard Rakell and Drew O'Connor also scored for the Penguins.

    Casey DeSmith struggled in place of Tristan Jarry, a late scratch with an upper-body injury. DeSmith stopped 33 shots, including both he faced in overtime, to win for the third time in his last 10 starts.

    “That was a huge two points for us,” DeSmith said. “Obviously we’re battling with them in the standings. Character win at home.”

    Carter Verhaeghe scored twice for Florida, including a tying goal with 2:32 left in regulation. Aaron Ekblad had a goal and two assists. Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart each had a goal and an assist. Colin White‘s sixth goal of the season 4:10 into the third gave the Panthers the lead but Florida couldn’t hold it.

    Alex Lyon made 42 saves after getting the start when Spencer Knight was unavailable for reasons head coach Paul Maurice would not disclose. The Panthers are 7-3-2 since January 1 to surge back into the fringe of contention.

    “We’re so much more of a different hockey team than we were a month ago at this time,” Maurice said. “Rallied around each other, battled as hard as they could to get a point on the road in the circumstances that we’re in. I couldn’t be more proud.”

    Neither Lyon or DeSmith – who got the heads up he was playing less than an hour before the opening faceoff – appeared quite ready to play on short notice. They gave up a six goals – three by each team – during a frantic first period that included Letang’s first goal since Dec. 15 and Tkachuk’s 25th of the season.

    Things settled down in the second. Ekblad’s short-handed goal put the Panthers in front but Crosby knotted the game at 4-4 with a pretty backhand through Lyon’s legs with 40 seconds to go in the period to set up a hectic third in which both teams squandered one-goal leads.

    “It wasn’t pretty but you need to find ways to win sometimes,” Crosby said. “We did a good job of that here today.”


    Panthers: Host Angeles on Friday night.

    Penguins: At Washington on Thursday night.