If someone had told the Chicago Blackhawks that they'd brutally lose both the game and their captain in Pittsburgh, they probably wouldn't have boarded the plane.
Instead, they walked right into a buzzsaw at the Consol Energy Center. Sidney Crosby carved the Hawks up with two stunning goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury put on yet another fine performance between the pipes to give Pittsburgh a 4-1 win. Oh, and Jonathan Toews got seriously roughed up by Brooks Orpik. (But more on that later.)
Elsewhere, a couple of Eastern Conference teams failed to claim important points. Philadelphia peppered Tuukka Rask with 52 shots but eventually fell 4-3 in a shootout. Similarly, Washington couldn't find a way to put away the Predators and watched an extra point slip through its fingers in a shootout loss.
All the NHL Scores
Penguins 4, Blackhawks 1
Predators 4, Capitals 3 (SO)
Three Things We Learned
1. The Blackhawks look vulnerable
Remember when the prospect of facing Chicago in the first round of the playoffs was a nightmare? Not so much lately, as the Blackhawks have dropped four of their last five and all three on their current road trip. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are banged up. Corey Crawford isn't making the kinds of saves he made last postseason. The battered and bruised Penguins made beating the defending champions look simple on Sunday, which should concern Chicago fans.
2. March was very good for Boston
Playing 17 games in 30 days is no small task, but the Bruins made it look easy. Boston finished its brutal March schedule with a 4-3 shootout win in Philadelphia on Sunday and a 15-1-1 record. After flying under the radar in the East for most of the season, the Bruins are finally healthy and wreaking havoc on any team in their path right now.
3. Gustav Nyquist is a machine
In a season ravaged by injuries, Nyquist has been the Red Wings' knight in shining armor. He scored his 27th goal on Sunday against Tampa Bay. That's 22 goals in the last 27 games and 11 in the last nine. The kid didn't even start his pro career until mid-November, yet he's threatening to join the NHL's top 20 in goals.
The one play or moment from Sunday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
When Brooks Orpik launched himself into Toews on Sunday, the Twittersphere erupted into a debate about its legality.
If you throw out any bias and really look at the hit, it's pretty clear that the initial point of contact was Orpik's shoulder to Toews' head. Not his elbow. Therefore, by the rulebook, it is a legal hit. A "clean" hit.
But was it necessary? As this next GIF shows, Toews had absolutely no idea that Orpik was coming.
It was dangerous, and it raises a couple of questions. Should Orpik have pulled up more than he did before making the hit, and should we just shrug off these kinds of hits because they're technically legal?
Stat of the Night
So Alex Ovechkin just finished the month of March without a single even-strength point.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 31, 2014
Post to Post
- A college hockey player tried to score with his head.
- The Stars are back in the driver's seat.
- Finally, Dominic Moore was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.