Thanks to the combination of injuries and the five-game suspension to James Neal, the Pittsburgh Penguins took the ice on Monday night without three of their top four defensemen (Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi) and their best goal-scoring winger (Neal), accounting for more than $17 million in cap space out of the lineup.
That's a lot to overcome, but the Penguins found a way to do it by grinding out a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby provided the offense, as they usually, do and the shorthanded defense did its best to limit the Blue Jackets' chances. When Columbus did manage to get something going, particularly early in the first period, Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar in net and nearly finished the night by scoring a goal.
So close, yet so far.
Meanwhile, the New York Islanders continued their losing streak by dropping their 10th game in a row in a blowout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. This is more than just a regression for one of last season's big surprises: This is a team that seems to have no idea what's going on and no clue on how to figure it out.
All the NHL Scores
Penguins 2, Blue Jackets 1
Senators 5, Flyers 4
Canucks 2, Hurricanes 0
Ducks 5, Islanders 2
On Monday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. Will the Philadelphia Flyers score five goals against the Ottawa Senators?
They almost did, getting four shots behind goaltender Craig Anderson. The only problem is they allowed Ottawa to match that total in regulation and then get one more in the shootout for the Senators' 5-4 win, and it was a beauty for Jason Spezza.
2. How much longer will the Columbus Blue Jackets' shutout streak be extended?
It lasted until the second period when Evgeni Malkin, who was returning to the Pittsburgh lineup after missing the past two games, beat Curtis McElhinney on a nice move to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal the Blue Jackets allowed in more than 160 minutes.
3. Will Sidney Crosby extend his three-game point streak?
He did, scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal mid-way through the third period. Crosby now has a league-leading 43 points (16 goals and 27 assists) in 32 games, which gives him a five-point lead over Malkin.
4. Will the Carolina Hurricanes or Vancouver Canucks extend their winning streak?
It was the Vancouver Canucks thanks to a 31-save shutout for Eddie Lack in a 2-0 win. The Canucks offense came from some unlikely places as Chris Tanev and Jannik Hansen found the back of the net behind Hurricanes goaltender Justin Peters. The Canucks have now won five straight games.
5. Will the New York Islanders end their nine-game winless streak?
Nope. Not even close. Their 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks pushed their current losing streak to 10 games while they've also lost 15 of their past 17. It's not going to get any better for the Islanders as they continue their current west coast swing with a trip to San Jose on Tuesday and then Phoenix on Thursday. Things really started to unravel late in the second period when the Islanders allowed two goals in 30 seconds, including a Cam Fowler goal off of a 3-on-1 shorthanded rush and a crazy Corey Perry goal from his knees. Bad times for the Islanders.
The one play or moment from Monday that will be making headlines over the next couple of days.
It has to be asked at this point, but will Jack Capuano still be the Islanders' coach when they return from their current road trip? When a playoff team from a year ago that appeared to be on the rise loses 10 games in a row and 15 of its past 17 and is currently in last place in its division the discussion has to be taking place. And the Islanders aren't just losing right now, they're getting blown out having been outscored 13-3 over their past three games and 41-16 during their current losing streak.
Stat of the Night
Without three of their top-four defensemen the Penguins really needed to rely on Kris Letang to do the heavy lifting on their blue line, and he rose to the occasion by playing a team-high 26:44, recording five shots on goal, and playing what was perhaps his best game of the season.
Post to Post
- Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal was suspended five games for kneeing Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand in the head.
- The NHL salary cap is going up next season.
- Hockey's culture of revenge.
- Kent Simpson meets the world.