SIX PACKS ON ICE: NHL recap from Friday Feb. 22, 2013
Friday night was pretty quiet on the NHL front with only 3 games being played, but one of those games had the chance to make a little history.
Florida Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins went into Friday nights game against the Florida Panthers looking to have a bounce back game after the tough loss to the Flyers on Wednesday. Both teams exchanged goals in the second period to get the scoring started. The Pens netted the eventual game winner in the third period with a shot from the point off of Matt Niskanen’s stick. Pittsburgh tallied one more goal when Dustin Jeffrey earned his first of the season after receiving a dandy of a pass from Matt Cooke making the final score 3-1. With 15:09 remaining in the third period the injury bug hit the Penguins in a big way. Evgeni Malkin took a check from Erik Gudbranson and went flying into the boards back-first. Malkin was skating hard when he was checked and the force of hitting the boards snapped his head back causing him to remain down on the ice for quite some time. It was a good sign when he did skate off under his own power, but he did not return to the game. Coach Dan Bylsma said after the game that Malkin would be evaluated and they would have more information Saturday. Despite the loss Florida’s goalie Jacob Markstrom earned himself #3 star of the game with an impressive outing since being called up from the AHL on Wednesday. Not to be outmatched, Marc Andre Fleury, who had not played in five days made 22 saves in the victory. With the win Pittsburgh moved into a tie with the New Jersey Devils for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators
It turned out to be a goal tending dual down in Nashville Friday night between Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne. Luongo, who was making his first start since last Sunday, just edged out Rinne 1-0 and earning his second shutout of the year. The Canucks Dale Weise earned the only goal of the game when 9:14 into the third period he was able to put away a juicy rebound grabbing his first goal of the year. The Predators had a late power play chance when Alex Burrows took a slashing penalty but just weren’t able to slip one past Luongo, who holds the franchise record in shutouts with 35. The Cancucks also joined the long list of teams who have had a major player go down with injury. After taking just two shifts in the second period Kevin Bieksa left the game and did not return. Coach Alan Vigneault said after the game that Bieksa had “tweaked his groin a little bit” but they wouldn’t have any further updates until Saturday. Despite having lost the last three of four games, the Predators still sit in second place in the Central Division.
San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The most anticipated game of the night by far was the Sharks taking on the Blackhawks. Chicago had a chance to etch themselves in the record books if they could make it through regulation without a loss. With just 15 seconds left in the first period Patrick Marleau put the Sharks on the board first with his 11th goal of the year. The Blackhawks were able to tie it up when Viktor Stalberg banked a shot off of Antti Niemi that just slipped over the goal line to even the score up at 1. Then in the final seconds of a San Jose power play Ryan Clowe turned over the puck to Brandon Saad who took it all the way up ice and threw a wicked shot right past Niemi giving the Hawks a shorthanded goal and game winner. With the 3-1 victory over the Sharks, the Blackhawks now sit alone atop of the record books owning the best start in NHL history. While the Hawks started the day off with the great news that Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Daniel Carcillo and Corey Crawford would all be ready to return to the lineup, they had another key player in Dave Bolland go down during the win. Bolland left the game late in the second period with an upper-body injury and the only update after the game was that he is now day-to-day. With the win Chicago has now earned 31 of a possible 34 points to start the season.
On this historic night in the NHL I leave you with the goal that put the Blackhawks into the record books. Enjoy checking out the snipe of a shot by 20-year-old Blackhawk Brandon Saad.
(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Penguins via Facebook)
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