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NHL Wednesday review: Pittsburgh Penguins beat Montreal Canadiens in shootout

Wednesday in the NHL brought us five games, which was a quieter night than usual, but there was no lack of excitement.

Each game brought its own drama and we discuss some of the major talking points below.

Penguins and Canadiens go the distance

The night kicked off with a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. It was the first of three matchups between these Eastern Conference opponents this season.

The Penguins have been in must-win mode practically since the season began, and it remains true two months into the campaign as they sit second-to-last in the Atlantic Division and 10 points off first place.

As for Montreal, they never had very high expectations coming into the year, and especially with their many injuries, they are already playing the role of spoiler in most games. 

Montreal came out of the gates flying, earning a 2-0 and 3-1 lead at different points of the first period. They looked dominant and the home crowd was fired up.

However, things changed when the Penguins stormed back and made it a 3-3 game heading into the third period.

It was a very quick third period, with many chances back and forth, but no goals were scored.

This took us to an overtime where Pittsburgh managed to survive a full two-minute, four versus three penalty kill where Montreal had many chances. The game then headed to a shootout.

The shootout was one of the most thrilling ones we have seen this season, with 7 total goals and 12 rounds.

Unsung hero Jansen Harkins ultimately won it for Pittsburgh, closing out this electric game and a major 4-3 win for the Penguins.

Overtime needed in defensive showdown in NJ

The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils also gave us an Eastern Conference showdown, in a matchup that had arguably the two best squads going head to head.

While the Bruins and Devils have some of the NHL’s best offensive talents, we were treated to a different type of game. 

Boston kicked the game off with a single first-period goal, and that would be the only one scored until the third period.

Just under three minutes into the third period, New Jersey tied things up. No more regulation goals were scored, sending the game to overtime.

There were 10 shots in overtime, with New Jersey dictating the pace of play. They were then rewarded when their star player Jack Hughes netted the game winner halfway through, making it a 2-1 finish.

There were a total of 59 shots in this game, and only three of them went in, in over 60 minutes of hockey. Surprisingly enough, Hughes, the overtime hero, was the only big star to get on the scoresheet out of a long list of top-level talent in this game.

The game between Boston and New Jersey was a potential preview of a playoff matchup, as both teams are stacked and expected to make a run for the Stanley Cup.

Jets steal road victory against Kings

In one of the later contests of the night, the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings met up for some Western Conference action.

Coming into the game, they both had 16 wins, but the Jets left the game with a 17th win and it was a great game between two strong teams.

Los Angeles began this game exceptionally. They stormed out to a 2-0 lead and defended it heading in the next frame. Unfortunately for them, these were the only times they found the back of the net.

Winnipeg had work to do and they did just that. It took just 15 minutes of the second period for them to storm back, tie the game, and take the lead. They had this game fully in their control.

Things didn’t get any better for LA in the final frame, as another Jets goal was scored under three minutes into the period.

A strong push got them nowhere, and Winnipeg even added an empty net goal to seal the 5-2 win.

It was a big win for Winnipeg, especially for forward Gabe Vilardi, who is a former LA King and had four points in the contest.

Two other games took place on this night - a 4-3 New York Islanders victory over the travelling Anaheim Ducks and a big 5-1 victory for the Colorado Avalanche over the Buffalo Sabres.

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