Feb 29, 2012, 11:06 PM EDT
As you heard if you watched the telecast, the Pittsburgh Penguins-Dallas Stars game really had a little of everything.
Of course, it seemingly all really started with Eric Nystrom‘s controversial hit on Kris Letang, which rolled out the red carpet for a violent and captivating game. It wasn’t just about barbaric checks, though, as there were plenty of beautiful goals, ingenious passes and splendid saves.
For many purists, the sticking point will be that it also had a shootout, which ultimately resulted in a 4-3 win for the Penguins. Personally, I’ve softened on that subject merely to protect my own sanity, but I’d argue that only the bitterest anti-shootout folks would dispute the entertainment value of a shootout that was, well, a shootout.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
With that win, the Penguins strengthen their position in fourth place with 79 points in 63 games played. The good news is that they’re in the driver’s seat for home ice in the first round. The bummer for Pittsburgh is that the New York Rangers have seven more points and two games in hand for the Atlantic Division title (and the first seed that comes with it right now).
The Stars failed to win their fourth game in a row – and Jamie Benn‘s return to the lineup – but they shouldn’t feel ashamed by their efforts. They stood toe-to-toe with one of the NHL’s marquee teams and once again find themselves alone in eighth place in the West with 71 points. That margin isn’t large – both the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings have 70 points to the Stars’ 71 with 18 games remaining for all three teams – but Dallas earned itself a solid head start in that tight race.
The only real shame is that these teams barely ever get to see each other.
- In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’ 1
- Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract 16
- Here’s the latest on coaching searches in Buffalo, San Jose and New Jersey 1
- Bishop bounced back in Game 5, but did the Rangers test him enough? 8
- Surging Stamkos: Lightning put Rangers on the brink 19
- Report: Blues will stick with Hitchcock ‘barring anything dramatic’ 16
- WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Rangers, Game 5 of Eastern Conference Final 0
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ 71
- Video: ‘It’s not the ideal situation,’ says OT hero Vermette of being a healthy scratch 5
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks 66
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (174)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (91)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (71)