The light schedule of NHL games on Friday offered a brief, but convincing argument in favor of the shootout.
I think most hockey fans can agree that settling the winner of a game with a skills competition is a faulty concept. But there’s no question that shootouts are automatic nail-biting events for fans no matter what game led up to them.
And when a fantastic, back-and-forth game ends in a shootout, the results can occasionally spike the excitement of a game to a new level. Such was the case in Pittsburgh and Columbus on Friday.
The Penguins and Islanders fought tooth and nail to get the game to a shootout, and the thrills only continued into the final frame. We got to see Sidney Crosby wield his puck magic and open up Chad Johnson like a can opener. We also got to see stops on world class players Evgeni Malkin and John Tavares. You can’t beat that.
The shootout in Columbus, however, was far more interesting due to its lack of scoring. Sergei Bobrovsky and Niklas Svedberg put on one of the best goalie duels of the season with six rounds without a single shootout score. As you might imagine, the tension in the building was palpable.
See? Shootouts can be fun.
All the NHL Scores
Islanders 5, Penguins 4 (SO)
Three things we learned
1. The Islanders and Penguins should play each other at least once a week. As we learned a few years ago in the playoffs, sparks fly when those two division rivals square off. That expectation was met in the first period when the Islanders scored three goals in just 95 seconds. As if on cue, the Penguins roared back to force a shootout. Crosby dazzled. Nikolay Kulemin took on two defensemen at once. Robert Bortuzzo head-butted Matt Martin. Thank goodness these two clubs play again on Saturday.
2. Bobrovsky and Svedberg were near impenetrable in the shootout. At the end of the day, Svedberg prevailed, but it’s not like the Blue Jackets didn’t try. Svedberg faced the likes of Ryan Johansen, Artem Anisimov, Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner, and turned all of them away with ease. It’s just another example of things not falling the right way for a maligned Columbus squad.
3. Once again, the Oilers lacked the effort required to win a home game. Even the team broadcasters began calling out captain Andrew Ference for a lack of energy. Edmonton refused to get to the dirty areas, wouldn’t commit to playing in front of the net in the offensive zone and let the Devils capitalize on lazy positioning in the neutral zone. Same old Oilers.
Johnny Boychuk’s knee-on-knee hit could’ve ended a lot worse for Malkin and the Penguins. But even though Malkin was relatively unhurt, it will be interesting to look out for possible retribution on Saturday when the two clubs play again.
Stat of the Night
Schneider becomes third goalie since 2005-6 to make 20+ starts to begin season (Nabokov, 43 & Kiprusoff, 23; both 2007-8) per @EliasSports.
— NHLDevilsPR (@NHLDevilsPR) November 21, 2014
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