Washington had a rough night, the Blackhawks ended their skid, the Avalanche put on a show and more.
Here are four things we learned in the NHL on Wednesday night.
NHL’s best power play strikes again
Things didn’t exactly start well for the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, stumbling their way through a sluggish first period against the Washington Capitals. But a burst of energy in the second period was rewarded with a perfectly executed power-play goal, a textbook special-teams execution from the league’s top power play just six seconds into the man advantage.
The Jets’ power play percentage (34) has them atop the league in that category, with Patrik Laine leading the league in power-play markers. This time, it was Mark Scheifele who got the Jets on the board, assisted by Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler. Wheeler’s assist extended his point streak to 11 games.
Capitals bit by injury bug
One thing to keep an eye on out of Wednesday’s game is the list of possible injuries to key Capitals players.
First, No. 1 netminder Braden Holtby was pulled from the lineup prior to puck drop, with the team calling him day-to-day and turning to backup Pheonix Copley for the second straight night. (Copley’s 28-save performance Tuesday night helped the Capitals defeat the Wild). Waiting in the wings was Gavin McHale, goaltending coach of the University of Manitoba’s women’s hockey team, after signing an amateur tryout to be Washington’s emergency backup.
Then, midway through the first period, forward Evgeny Kuznetsov left for the locker room after taking a high hit from Jets winger Brandon Tanev, who was issued a two-minute penalty for an illegal check to the head. Kuznetsov was quickly ruled out from returning and the Capitals said he’ll be re-assessed on Thursday.
The third case might wind up being the one people are talking about most, due to the nature of how it happened. With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Joshua Morrissey took down T.J. Oshie in the corner and threw him backwards onto the ice, leaving the Capitals forward visibly shaken. The play will more than likely be looked at by the league, considering how similar it is to the infraction that earned Panthers defenceman Mike Matheson a two-game suspension for upending Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson earlier this season.
Colliton gets Chicago in the win column
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Chicago’s most recent matchup with the St. Louis Blues was a lopsided loss on Oct. 27 that kicked off an eight-game losing skid. In the middle of that, the club said goodbye to longtime head coach Joel Quenneville, who took the fall for the team’s struggles.
This time around, things went a little differently as the Blackhawks’ free-fall down the standings came to a halt with a 1-0 win. The victory gave new head coach Jeremy Colliton his first ever W as an NHL head coach. He was humble in his celebration:
Goaltender Corey Crawford stopped all 28 shots that came his way to register his first shutout of the season, with one of his best saves coming early in the game and setting the tone for the night:
Rantanen takes top spot
We got to see some pretty great hockey in Colorado on Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins visited the Avalanche for a head-to-head matchup of two of hockey’s best lines.
Colorado’s “Rocky Mountain Line,” as we’re apparently calling it now, came out on top with an impeccable performance
Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal Wednesday night as the Avalanche rallied to the 6-3 win with a huge third period. The trio combined for six points on the night, bringing their season total up to 75 so far this season. The Bruins’ top threesome of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak aren’t far behind, with a combined 71 points so far in 2018-19.
Rantanen’s three-point night (he also had two assists) gave him sole possession of the top spot in the NHL’s scoring race with seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points so far this season.
We got to see some of his finest work Wednesday night as he set up MacKinnon to tie the game in the third: