Phil thrilled, Foligno sat, and Captain America enjoyed a patriotic sendoff.
Here are a few things we learned at the rink on Friday night.
Pittsburgh Phil > Punxsutawney Phil
It’s Groundhog Day, and we’re pretty excited for six more weeks of Phil Kessel doing things like this:
Hagelin → Malkin → Kessel → pic.twitter.com/pLJLmzSAuC
And yeah, even this:
Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was a whole lot of high-scoring fun, and featured a Penguins team that has very clearly hit its stride — right on schedule. Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each had two goals, Sidney Crosby had a pair of assists, and Bryan Rust continued to make up for lost time after returning from an upper-body injury. (See the game’s highlights at the top of this post.)
Alex Ovechkin had himself a game, too, with two goals and an assist in the Capitals’ losing effort. But tonight, we celebrate Phil, who is now just two points behind Nikita Kucherov for the top spot in the NHL.
Foligno gets benched
The club’s bench boss is known for his fiery personality and, let’s call it… emotional… coaching style. And he didn’t hesitate to let his captain know he’d messed up.
Foligno took an obvious hooking penalty with teammate Seth Jones already in the penalty box midway through the second period, and the Sharks capitalized on the man advantage with a goal soon after.
Foligno didn’t see any ice time for about 20 minutes after that.
“It sucks. It’s the worst feeling in the world. I mean, you just want to be out there helping your teammates, especially after a mistake,” Foligno told reporters after the game. “So that’s a really hard one, to sit there and watch, but that’s the standard that he has and I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to go tomorrow.”
Jenner scores one for family
It’s been a difficult week for Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner, who is mourning the loss of his grandmother after she passed away earlier this week.
In an emotional moment for the 24-year-old, Jenner was able to pay tribute to her with a goal in the second period of Friday’s game versus San Jose.
“A couple different emotions the last couple days going through me, so it was definitely nice to get that one,” Jenner told reporters after the game.
The Blue Jackets’ lone goal of the night — a 3-1 loss to the Sharks — was Jenner’s fifth of the season, ending a 12-game drought, and was his first point of 2018.
Golden Knights’ power play heats up
Public service announcement: Stop taking penalties against the Vegas Golden Knights — they’re on a special teams hot streak, and will make you pay. Though they wound up on the losing end of Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, the league’s second-best team still flexed its muscles when it comes the man advantage, scoring two power-play markers.
Vegas has now scored a power-play goal in six straight games, with a total of nine during that time. Despite their recent success, the Golden Knights still rank in the middle of the league for power-play percentage (19.5, compared to the Penguins’ top mark at 27.7 per cent).
Captain America and the Americans
It doesn’t get much more patriotic than this: Former NHLer Brian Gionta signed a one-game professional tryout with the AHL’s Rochester Americans earlier this week to get in a good pre-Olympic tuneup before jetting off to Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he’ll serve as captain of Team USA. Gionta has been practising with the squad all season in preparation for the Olympics, and he scored Friday night against the Toronto Marlies in his one-and-only game with the AHL club.
Looks like he’s ready for the Olympics:
— Rochester Americans (@AmerksHockey) February 3, 2018