Five things we learned in the NHL: Upset in Washington

Daren Millard, Nick Kypreos, Chris Johnston, Damien Cox and John Shannon talk about the top available players for this year’s NHL Trade Deadline.

An unexpected outcome, an odd goal, a couple of newcomers and more.

Here’s what we learned in the NHL on Wednesday night.

Canadiens upset Holtby and the Capitals
Well, who saw that one coming?

Going into Wednesday’s game, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was undefeated in regulation against the Montreal Canadiens, with a record of 8-0-2 against the club. When you think about the way the record-breaking Capitals have been playing lately (their 44 wins in 58 games is the best in league history) — not to mention their slumping opponent — it seemed like a safe bet the netminder would add another W to that record to keep the streak alive.

Not the case.

The top Vezina candidate let in three unanswered goals on 18 shots (a far cry from his 1.36 GAA and .951 career save percentage against the Habs) and didn’t get a chance to redeem himself as he was pulled from the game just three minutes into the second frame.

Philipp Grubauer, who came in to relieve Holtby, let in one goal as Washington rallied, but the league-leading squad eventually fell short in the unlikely 4-3 loss.

Over on the opposite end of the ice, Mike Condon showed some grit to backstop the Canadiens to their first regulation road win since beating the Bruins at the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.

He made 33 stops on the night, but it’s this crazy-good save on Mike Richards that proved to be the save of the game:


Audition night in Washington?
Mike Condon wasn’t the only member of the struggling Canadiens to show a little life Wednesday night. Alex Galchenyuk was the star of the show for Montreal, but it was the supporting cast who were garnering the attention at Verizon Center.

Dale Weise, Lars Eller and Tomas Fleischmann have been widely considered three of the most likely members of the Canadiens who could be traded prior to Monday’s deadline, and all three had a strong showing against the Capitals in front of scouts.

Weise and Eller each had an assist to their name, and Fleischmann scored the second-period goal that sent Holtby packing for the night.

Read Eric Engels’ full recap and trade implications.

Always follow the puck
Tom Kuhnhackl‘s controversial second-period goal is the reason why coaches always tell their players to go hard to the net. The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ lone goal in their 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins was contested, as the puck went in the net off Kuhnhackl’s skate.

The league reviewed the goal, and deemed it legal, citing that there was no kicking motion on the play.

This was the rookie’s second career NHL goal. (He notched his first on Sunday, and it was a real beauty.)

Also worth noting from the game, 19-year-old David Pastrnak proved to be the leading skater for the Bruins, scoring twice including one a penalty shot.

Maple Leafs make their mark
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t playing tonight, but they still made an impact.

Wednesday night saw three former Leafs making their debut with their new teams as the San Jose Sharks visited the Colorado Avalanche. All three looked right at home in their new sweaters.

Forward Nick Spaling, who was dealt to the Sharks Monday along with defenceman Roman Polak in exchange for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018 as well as forward Raffi Torres, scored on his very first shot with the Sharks.

Then, about 10 minutes later, it was Shawn Matthias‘ turn. The forward, who landed in Colorado in Sunday’s trade that saw the Leafs receive a fourth-round pick and prospect Colin Smith, registered a goal in his debut.

In the end, the Avalanche edged the Sharks 4-3 in a shootout.

So, with the trade deadline fast approaching… who’s next?

Going streaking
Quick trivia: Who currently holds the NHL’s longest active point streak?

That would be Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, whose assist in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres extended his point streak to nine games.

What’s more, Getzlaf also set a new franchise record for assists by reaching his eighth season with 40 or more helpers.

Getzlaf’s now got four goals and 10 assists for 14 points during the streak that began Feb. 8 — just in time to continue the Ducks’ momentum heading into the post-season stretch.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.