Kobe Bryant

Crosby Voracek buzzer Ovechkin history 3 stars
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The Buzzer: Ovechkin makes history; Crosby makes Flyers miserable

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Three Stars

1. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Hopefully all of the violence didn’t overshadow Rask’s return too much. If anything, it should highlight how Rask’s strong play maintained control.

Rask stopped 37 out of 38 shots on goal to win on Friday. He ranked as the biggest reason the Jets couldn’t take advantage of a plethora of power-play opportunities. Winnipeg went 0-for-6 on the PP, with Rask stopping all 12 PP SOG he saw.

Rask improved to 18-4-6 with a sparkling .927 save percentage in 2019-20. The Bruins should be overturning every stone to make sure he’s healthy for the playoffs.

2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby vs. Rask is a matter of taste. For the Flyers, that taste was bitter. Crosby clearly loves tormenting his team’s in-state rivals, as this was a chapter in a bursting book (maybe a shelf-full of books) of Crosby thumping the Flyers.

He scored the overtime game-winning goal and added two assists — both primary. A lengthy injury absence derailed Crosby’s chances of back-to-back 100+ point seasons, but he’s been dominant when healthy, now at 28 points in 23 games.

Evgeni Malkin managed a one-goal, two-assist night as well. Crosby gets the edge because he scored the game-winner, and also Malkin’s assists were secondary helpers.

3. Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers

Now, if you consider Malkin’s night better than a comparable one for Zibanejad, that’s fine.

Wherever you rank it, Zibanejad impressed again with a goal and two assists of his own. Zibanejad poses “What if?” injury questions of his own for this season, as he now has 42 points over 36 games. That’s an even better pace than last season, but Zibanejad managed to play in 82 games (collecting a career-high 74 points).

As much as it feels like the Rangers have quite a long way to go, maybe they’re closer than people think. Healthy Zibanejad + healthy Artemi Panarin could comprise most of a winning formula, honestly.

Highlight of the Night

Speaking of Panarin, he scored a beautiful goal against the Red Wings on Friday. The kicking celebration really clinches it:

Ovechkin passes Messier

As you likely heard, Alex Ovechkin passed Mark Messier for eighth all-time in goals with his 695th. It feels appropriate to give that achievement its own “factoids” section. First, enjoy the two goals that pushed Ovechkin beyond another icon this week.

To start, here are some ifs:

Now, let’s consider some milestones Ovechkin already reached.

Other Factoids

  • The red-hot Capitals’ accomplishments weren’t limited to ogling Ovechkin. The Capitals improved to 20-6-1 on the road this season, matching a mark the franchise already set for the fewest road games (27) to 20 away wins.
  • NHL PR points out that rookie Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov is one of only four goalies to win 16+ of their first 20 games, and only the third rookie goalie to manage 11+ wins in consecutive decisions. Capitals PR notes that Samsonov joined Brent Johnson as the only two rookie goalies to win their first 10 road decisions (Johnson managed 11).
  • One more Capitals bit: John Carlsson now owns the franchise defenseman assists record at 362, passing Calle Johansson. Johansson’s franchise defenseman points record (474) isn’t far from Carlsson’s grasp, as he’s at 464.
  • Remember that bit about Crosby owning the Flyers? Crosby is one of five players with at least 100 points against the Flyers (105), via NHL PR. Mario Lemieux ranks first with 124. Crosby is also now tied for third all-time in overtime goals with 16, via Sportsnet stats.
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy reached 150 wins in 246 games. According to NHL PR, Vasilevskiy is one of only four goalies to manage that feat in 246 GP or less.

Scores

NYR 4 – DET 2
PIT 4 – PHI 3 (OT)
WSH 5 – OTT 3
VGK 4 – CAR 3
BOS 2 – WPG 1
EDM 4 – STL 2
TBL 4 – ANA 3

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.

Alex Ovechkin passes Mark Messier for eighth all-time with 695th goal

via the NHL
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If it weren’t for winning a Stanley Cup, this might have stood as the most memorable week* of Alex Ovechkin‘s career. Ovechkin tied and then passed Mark Messier for eighth all-time in goal-scoring on Friday. Ovechkin scored two goals to reach 695 for his career as the Capitals beat the Senators 5-3.

Ovechkin ties Messier with goal 694

Ovechkin extended his current goal streak to five games during the second period. Rather than being the Ovechkin goal you can picture in your sleep, he scored this from the opposite faceoff circle.

Ovechkin passes Messier, stands alone at eighth with goal 695

The Ovechkin didn’t need long to break that tie with Messier. He iced Washington’s win with an empty-netter. Watch both goals below:

Again, this caps quite a week for Ovechkin. Ovechkin mourned Kobe Bryant’s passing on Wednesday by wearing number 24 during warm-ups. During that same game, Ovechkin tied then passed Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in scoring.

Yzerman provided some fun fodder following Ovechkin pushing him down the ranks, asking to be invited to the party if Ovechkin breaks the all-time goals record (894 by Wayne Gretzky, of course).

Messier praised Ovechkin’s skill in spirit in congratulating “The Great 8” on moving to eighth.

People get tempted to only look in the past when a player piles up milestone like Ovechkin is right now. Yet, Ovechkin’s sniping remains relevant in the present. His two goals push him to 37 on the season. Being that David Pastrnak came into Friday with the league lead at 37, Ovechkin also eyes another possible Maurice Richard Trophy. When you consider the past and present, is there any sense in doubting Ovechkin?

Beyond that race, Ovechkin also eyes 700 goals and Mike Gartner at seventh (708). The Capitals have 30 regular-season games remaining in 2019-20, so don’t be shocked if he reaches both of those marks this season.

* – Then again, Ovechkin might not remember much from that time, considering how hard he partied.

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.

Ducks’ Gibson to wear tribute mask for Kobe Bryant, crash victims

John GIbson Kobe Bryant Gianna crash victims tribute mask
via Shell Shock Designs
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The hockey and sports world has taken the week to mourn the shocking passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others. Ducks goalie John Gibson plans to pay tribute to Bryant and other victims with the mask he’s wearing Friday.

Gibson pays wonderful tribute to Kobe Bryant, other victims

Gibson’s mask features stars that honor some of Kobe Bryant’s greatest accomplishments, including his 81-point game. There are other nice touches, including featuring 8 and 24, the numbers Bryant wore during his NBA career.

Importantly, the mask memorializes all nine victims. Along with Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Gibson’s mask honors John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan. Seeing those names, plus an image of Kobe comforting Gianna, really makes the back of the mask the most resonant part for me.

Shell Shock Designs made the mask, and also shared video that gives a view of the artwork:

Plenty of NHL teams paid tribute to Kobe Bryant and the other helicopter crash victims over the last few days. Nearby teams provide some of the most resonant tributes, as the Los Angeles Kings — a team that shares the Staples Center with the Lakers — also shared heartfelt odes.

Anaheim Calling points out that Ducks Carter Rowney scored a goal that ended up being heavy in numerology.

The Anaheim Ducks themselves honored the victims of the crash with 24 seconds of silence before the game against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday, and it got even crazier when Carter Rowney, number 24 for the Ducks scored 24 seconds into a power play in the 24th home game of the season on the 24th shot of the game to make the score 2-4.

Gibson’s Ducks host the Lightning on Friday.

NHL teams and players honor Kobe Bryant, other victims of that accident.

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.

Cernak, Stamkos lead Lightning; Kings honor Kobe with touching tribute

Erik Cernak broke a 2-2 tie early in the third period and the Tampa Bay Lightning topped the Los Angeles Kings, 4-2.

Steven Stamkos scored twice, Tyler Johnson also lit the lamp for Tampa Bay, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves as the Lightning improved to 6-0-0 against the Pacific Division this season.

Tyler Toffoli and Alex Iafallo scored as the Kings’ losing streak reached five games.

Kings pay Tribute to Kobe

It was the first sporting event in the Staples Center since the tragic helicopter crash. Fans poured into the arena sporting Kobe Bryant jerseys, honoring the five-time NBA Champion.

In addition, The Los Angeles Kings players broke their traditional dress code and wore Bryant jerseys when they entered the venue earlier in the day.

Prior to puck drop, the Kings organized a moving ceremony to pay tribute to the NBA legend and the other victims of the horrific accident with a 24-second moment of silence.

Doughty’s streak comes to an end

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s iron man streak ended at 460 games when the alternate captain was scratched against the Lightning.

Doughty left Sunday’s practice due to an undisclosed injury but head coach Todd McLellan does not expect the injury to be long term. The defenseman might return to the lineup Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Alex Ovechkin honors late Kobe Bryant with No. 24 jersey

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin honored Kobe Bryant by wearing number No. 24 during warm-ups prior to the game against the Nashville Predators Wednesday.

Bryant wore No. 8 for the Los Angeles Lakers for the first part of his career but then switched to No. 24 before the 2006-2007 season. According to CBSSports, Bryant is the only player in NBA history to have two jersey numbers retired with the same team.

Bryant and his daughter Gianna, along with seven others, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash Sunday.

 

Ovechkin’s number No. 24 jersey will be signed and put up for auction benefitting the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. Details of the auction will be shared at a later date per the Capitals website.


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.