3 things we learned in the NHL: Bruins in, Habs out

Sidney Crosby scored a goal-of-the-year candidate as the Penguins beat the Canadiens 5-3, eliminating Montreal from playoff contention.

The two biggest stars on the Pittsburgh Penguins made waves, a rookie impressed his team in consecutive games and two more teams’ playoff stories were solidified.

Here are three things we learned in the NHL on Wednesday night.

Bruins in, Habs out

We are nearing the end of March and most teams have less than 10 games remaining on their schedule. Slowly and surely the playoff picture starts to crystallize into focus.

On Wednesday night, two bitter rivals both sealed their playoff fates.

The Boston Bruins are officially dancing in the 2018 NHL playoffs after their 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues, and the Montreal Canadiens will miss the post-season as a result of their 5-3 loss to the Penguins.

The Bruins have now made the playoffs in consecutive years after a two-year absence from the post-season, and a perfect attendance ever since Bruce Cassidy took over head coaching duties from Claude Julien.

Speaking of Julien, he and his Montreal crew will not be attending Lord Stanley’s party for the second time in the last three years and the ninth time in the last 23 years. They have not missed the playoffs in consecutive years since a three-year stint from 1998-2001.

Dynamite Donato debut continues

On Monday night, Ryan Donato made his NHL debut for the Bruins against the Columbus Blue Jackets, during which the 21-year-old turned heads by not only picking up his first career goal, but also two assists for a three-point game.

On Wednesday, he followed up his opening-night performance with another goal, the only goal scored by the Bruins in their OT loss against the Blues.

The Bruins’ 2014 second-round pick now sports an impressive — early — stat line of two games with two goals and two assists for four points.

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Crosby and Malkin are still good

No, really.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin spoiled Carey Price’s return as the Penguins tuned up the Canadiens.

Malkin opened up the scoring with a timely controversial goal on the same day the NHLPA and NHL agreed to let the situation room make all goalie interference calls.

However, the call remains in the referees’ hands for now and they upheld the ruling on the ice after Julien challenged the play. Malkin ended up picking up his 90th point of the season — before adding No. 91 with a helper on the Penguins’ second goal.

Malkin becomes one of just four players to reach the 90-point mark so far this season, further fuelling the MVP debate.

Let’s not forgot about Crosby.

Not only did he score what could be the goal of the year but he picked up his 700th career assist and became just the 53rd player in NHL history to pick that many apples.

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