5 things we learned in the NHL: Crosby extends streak

Check this out, Crosby blows by the Hurricanes to score a nifty goal.

Crosby paced the Penguins with a pair of goals, bounces helped the Panthers drop the Maple Leafs, it was a Wild night in the Minnesota net, and more in five things we learned in the NHL.

Crosby extends streak in Penguins win

It was a rough start for the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night with rookie goaltender Matt Murray surrendering two quick goals to the Carolina Hurricanes. It was all Penguins after that.

Sidney Crosby scored twice to extend his current scoring streak to 10 games and raise his season total to 31 goals. Make it seven 30-goal seasons for No. 87.

The Penguins scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 victory. Murray finished with 31 saves, while Eddie Lack held his own with 44 stops at the other end of the ice. The Penguins thumped the Hurricanes in the possession department, totalling 57 shot attempts at even strength to Carolina’s 31.

Maple Leafs can’t beat the bounces

Despite maintaining residence in the NHL’s basement, there’s a lot of optimism around the Toronto Maple Leafs as of late. An influx of young talent and a summer full of intrigue ahead have things looking up in Hogtown.

The Leafs kept pace with the Florida Panthers in the scoring chance count but they couldn’t beat the bounces on Thursday, falling 4-1 to Kevin Spacey’s crew. Jussi Jokinen paced the Panthers with a pair of weird goals, including the game’s opening marker which will surely haunt Ben Smith.

Jokinen’s second goal of the game found its way past Jonathan Bernier by way of Connor Carrick‘s stick. The Panthers potted two empty-net goals, including Jaromir Jagr‘s team-leading 24th of the season.

Dubnyk, Kuemper split duties as Devils administer a drubbing

The New Jersey Devils thumped the Minnesota Wild 7-4 Thursday night, chasing Devan Dubnyk from the net after he allowed three goals on eight shots. His replacement didn’t fare much better. Darcy Kuemper gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.

Kuemper surrendered four goals on 17 shots and picked up the loss thanks to a third period push by the Wild.

Devante Smith-Pelly continued his scoring binge, registering two goals and an assist to give him six goals and nine points in seven games since arriving via a deadline trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Devils rookie winger Mike Sislo scored the first goal of his NHL career in the first period and followed it up with No. 2 in the second frame.

The Wild have dropped four of its last five games and sit one point back of the Colorado Avalanche for the Western Conference’s second wild-card playoff berth.

From one captain to another

Jamie Benn succeeded Brenden Morrow as captain of the Dallas Stars and on Thursday night it was Benn who exercised his leadership ability to honour his former teammate.

Morrow announced his retirement from the NHL Thursday after signing a one-day contract to call it a career as a member of the Stars. With the crowd at American Airlines Center on its feet cheering while a video tribute to Morrow played on the scoreboard, Benn delayed a faceoff as an eager official attempted to drop the puck.

Benn scored two goals and added an assist as the Stars topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 with Morrow in attendance.

Smith remains perfect since return from IR

The Arizona Coyotes‘ playoff hopes have faded, but they haven’t been extinguished just yet.

Goaltender Mike Smith wasn’t exactly enjoying the best season of his professional career when he went down long-term with an abdominal injury in early December. Since returning to game action last week Smith has been indomitable.

Smith made 27 saves to help the Coyotes to a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks Thursday night, improving to 2-0 in his first two starts since recovering from surgery.

Shane Doan scored the game-winning goal at 18:29 of the third period before Antoine Vermette added an empty-netter.

The Coyotes have won three straight and sit seven points back of the Avalanche for a playoff spot in the West.