The action and accompanying historic marks were happening so fast and furious that it was tough to keep up. Jake Guentzel popped a pair of goals in 12 seconds to launch the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-0 win over the New York Islanders in which Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin made history. Everything came up aces for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Islanders as well as put themselves back into the playoff race. Elsewhere in the Daily, the New Jersey Devils are stirring the NHL trade rumors in goal, Elliote Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are also shopping for netminders, and Sportsnet compiled the best fights of 2023.
I know everyone reviles fighting in hockey … except for the arenas full of people who come out of their seats when it’s go time. It’s OK, you can watch. I won’t tell.
I’m still frustrated by PHN’s coverage of the Penguins’ win. The lack of legitimate replays at UBS Arena made it tough. You know that I like to examine the layers of the play and mistakes/victories within it. I found myself trying to watch the goal replays online, but the Penguins didn’t let up! Instead of in-depth game analysis, I think Penguins fans will find the locker room feature especially satisfying today.
Shelly will have coverage from practice as I don’t expect to get back to Pittsburgh/Cranberry in time, but I’ll try.
Make no mistake, this is the Penguins’ chance. They absolutely must build on this win and get this — the Penguins are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, with Metro Division wins over Carolina and the Islanders.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Kris Letang made history with five assists in one period and six assists in the game. He tied and set a couple of records. Evgeni Malkin became the second most prolific Russian player ever. Valtteri Puustinen also lit the lamp for the first time in his career. It was a jubilant night and a 7-0 score on Long Island. Get the full Penguins recap.
**NYI Hockey Now: Andrew Fantucchio has the flip side — the Islanders’ version of an abysmal night. It was on old-fashioned butt-kicking — The New York Islanders takeaways.
Puustinen had a smile from ear to ear. Letang seemed genuinely humbled by his feats. Even coach Mike Sullivan was enjoying the moment for his team. Go inside the Penguins locker room.
PHN+: “We have it. We all know it.” — I had one question for three players on Wednesday morning. I got one answer three times. Yet that’s not the whole story. What do the Penguins need to do better to get into the playoff picture?
Use code Dan10 to get $10 off a subscription. I think that’s worth a read, and I hope we’re worthy of your support.
TSN: Canada dominated against Latvia. The 2023 Penguins’ first-round pick, Brayden Yager, chipped in the second goal, and linemate Macklin Celebrini (the likely 2024 first-overall pick) racked up the points in the blowout win.
Mark Cuban turned down a chance to buy a piece of the Steelers.
James Harrison missed the finalists cut for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?!
And guess who will start at QB this weekend? Mason Rudolph is drawing rave reviews.
NHL Trade Chatter, News & National Hockey Now
Leafs Nation: Wildly differing views on the goaltending market. Elliotte Friedman believes the Maple Leafs have grabbed a buggy and gone shopping at the NHL trade market. Leafs Nation circled four goalies, including Alex Nedeljkovic, to target.
NY Post: Stick taps to our friend Spector’s Hockey, who spotted this one by Larry Brooks, who doesn’t think the New Jersey Devils should pursue any of the available goalies because they’re not good enough.
New Jersey Hockey Now: Our James Nichols is getting more plugged into the Devils than anyone. He’s not discounting a move coming very soon. “Get your tinfoil hats ready,” James wrote. The Devils recalled a third goalie later Wednesday, and coach Lindy Ruff responded to a corresponding move as “not yet.” Here’s the latest on the New Jersey Devils netminding.
Boston Hockey Now: Colby Armstrong was on the national telecast Wednesday. Not only did the referees make a controversial call on Brad Marchand, but they also followed it up with a quick two for arguing. Armstrong ripped the refs on behalf of the Boston Bruins.
And for fun… Sportsnet has compiled the best hits, fights, and scrums of 2023: