Dan’s Daily: Incredible Penguins Comeback & 4-Point Playoff Swing
The Pittsburgh Penguins were, by their own faults, a lifeless team gliding through the motions about to be only one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for the final wild-card spot. Fans chanted “Fire Hextall” before showering the home team with boos. Then, an incredible comeback. A few hundred miles away, the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders were locked in a defensive struggle ultimately decided by an overturned call. By the end of the night, it was a shocking four-point swing for the Penguins’ playoff hopes.
Also in the Daily, Trevor Zegras scored a goal that filthy doesn’t begin to describe. Should the Montreal Canadiens try to get Sean Monahan’s name on an incentive-laden contract? The Columbus Blue Jackets are upset at Bostin Bruins GM Don Sweeney. And this just in: NHL officiating is inconsistent after Tony DeAngelo was given a five and 10 for spearing, in an incident similar to what Sasha Barkov did to Kris Letang but only received two minutes.
On a personal note, you and I had a little Twitter spat last weekend over Alex Nylander, though not really. I challenged folks to tell me why he should be called up beyond just looking at the box scores or saying Jeff Carter stinks. My other comments were that he’d be here when the Penguins thought he could help them win, and I hoped he would earn a shot.
Tuesday night, Nylander got his chance, and he delivered. That was exactly what he needed to show to stick around in the NHL, and that was nothing close to the player I saw in training camp or preseason. He played in the middle of the ice, bailed out his defensemen with a couple of hard backchecks, played with the puck down low, and worked hard in the scoring areas.
For the record, the correct answer on Twitter would have been the above instead of “give it a shot. It can’t be worse.”
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: I think we all had pretty scathing, wicked postgame stories mostly written after two periods. No one uses subtle sarcasm quite as well as Dave Molinari. The Penguins rallied with five goals for a 5-4 OT win, and here is Dave’s Penguins recap.
“Confidence,” Kris Letang said. After that crazy game, go inside the Penguins’ locker room.
Nylander waited three years to get back to the NHL. I’d say he seized that chance with both hands but also kept it simple. Video included. In the end, he just smiled. He earned that one. Alex Nylander returns.
PHN+: The complete, unvarnished Penguins report card.
Penguins Playoffs, NHL News, & National Hockey Now
NYI Hockey Now: Now, to the playoff race. It was first ruled no goal. Then, it was good. It was the game-winner, and I suppose the Islanders helped the Penguins by beating the Buffalo Sabres. The New York Islanders win.
The Penguins now lead Buffalo and Ottawa by five points for the final wild-card spot and trail the Islanders by one with three games in hand.
Sportsnet: Buffalo coach Don Granato (who has done an incredible job since taking over) was shocked at the overturned call.
I’m not sure Granato is getting enough credit around the NHL. His impact was immediate during that fanless season. You could see the switch in systems and tactics, and the Sabres really took to it. It was very similar to Mike Sullivan taking over for Mike Johnston–it’s been that stark.
Ottawa Sun: The Ottawa Senators were off Tuesday after getting embarrassed by the Chicago Blackhawks. But the bidding war has officially begun to own the Senators.
Who own the Senators?
Florida Hockey Now: Florida kept pace with the Penguins. They sneaked past Vegas for two points with a big helping of Sergei Bobrovsky.
Washington Hockey Now: A little Capitals trade and free agency chatter. GM Brian McClellan says they want to add a top-six winger this summer. More on the Washington Capitals plans.
Boston Hockey Now: Did Don Sweeney leave Columbus hanging in trade talks for Vladislav Gavrikov? That report won’t go away. Here’s the Boston Bruins scoop.
Philly Hockey Now: I suspect Tony DeAngelo will get a call from the league today. It was a pretty aggressive cup check. It was a major and a misconduct for the Philly Flyers d-man.
Montreal Hockey Now: Sean Monahan is a name to keep an eye on this offseason. Because he missed most of the season, he’ll be eligible for an incentive-laden contract. Will the Montreal Canadiens consider it?
NHL.com: We’ll end with Trevor Zegras’ goal. I’ve never seen that move done at that speed or to the top shelf. For those that dig the reels: