Newsmakers in the NHL: Red Wings Take Winter Classic
Pavel Datsyuk's goal (shown above) was perhaps the highlight of a great day of hockey in Chicago, and we have to give a well-deserved tip of the cap to Eric McErlain for giving us all a front row seat for the festivities and excitement around Wrigley Field.
Chicago jumped out to an early 3-1 lead after the first period, looking like it was out to send a message after Tuesday night's loss in Detroit, only to have the Red Wings roar back with five consecutive goals -- including a pair from Jiri Hudler -- to take the Winter Classic, 6-4. The Wings are now 4-0 against their original six rivals this season, while improving their record to 25-7-5.
This year's version of the classic, I thought, was far better than last season's game in Buffalo, mainly because this game wasn't played in blizzard conditions. Sure, that was exciting and awesome to look at, but it definitely hurt the on-ice play, while the ice itself was in horrible condition, resulting in multiple stoppages in play to fix massive holes. No such problems this year, just exciting hockey in a historic stadium between two classic teams wearing some awesome, awesome uniforms. Not a huge fan of the rendition of take me out to the ballgame, however. The hockey song would have been a nice touch, but, really, if that's the only negative throughout the event, well, that's a great, great thing for the sport.
Ty Conklin, playing in his third outdoor game in the NHL, stopped 33 shots in the win, while Chicago's Cristobal Huet had to be lifted early in the third period after giving up six goals on 30 shots.
The Rest of the Action
... I guess the players only meeting didn't help things all that much, as the Penguins dropped a 4-2 decision in Boston on Thursday night. Much better effort, especially in the third period, but in the end it's the same result, as the Penguins are now 3-9 in their past 12 games. Boston, meanwhile, is for real -- as if we didn't already know that -- winning its 10th straight game overall, and its 14th straight game at home. David Krejci, P.J. Axelsson, Milan Lucic and Marc Savard scored for the Bruins, while Dustin Jeffrey and Ruslan Fedotenko potted goals for the Penguins. Jeffrey's goal was the first of his career.
... Scary moment in the Tampa Bay-Washington game, as Tampa's Jamie Heward had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after being hit by Alex Ovechkin. Turns out, he has a concussion and it's reported that he's had movement in all of his extremities, so, that's certainly good news. Well, the concussion part isn't good news, but the fact he has movement definitely is. As for the game itself, the Capitals poured in seven goals behind Mike Smith on their way to a 7-4 win. Ovechkin scored his 26th goal of the season late in the third period, while Washington's Sean Collins opened the scoring in the first period with his first NHL goal, on his first NHL shot. Nice work.
... Jason Pominville and Derek Roy each scored a pair of goals for the Sabres, as they pulled out a 4-1 win in Toronto. Ryan Miller kicked out 27-of-28 shots in the win, while Toronto's John Mitchell ended his shutout bid at the 8:29 mark of the third period.
... In his first start as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, Jason LaBarbera turned aside 31-of-32 shots to help lead the Canucks to a 2-1 win over Nashville. Jason Jaffray scored the game-winner for Vancouver with just over four minutes to play in regulation, while Mattias Ohlund also scored for the Canucks. Rich Peverley scored a power play goal midway through the second period to provide the lone score for Nashville, while Pekka Rinne made 30 saves in net for the Predators.
... Since we missed the recap of Wednesday's action because of the New Years holiday, it's worth pointing out that Columbus rookie netminder Steve Mason posted his third consecutive shutout for the Blue Jackets. It's his fifth shutout of the season in just 20 starts, while the 20-year old is currently leading the league with a 1.69 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.