During the course of a season, whether long or short, a team has to deal with both the good and the bad.
Last night, the Pittsburgh Penguins experienced a little bit of both.
The good news was that the Penguins extended their winning streak to 13 games with a 1-0 decision over the Montreal Canadiens.
Sidney Crosby sniped the far corner over Carey Price’s shoulder off the rush for the game’s only goal.
The bad news is that Marc-Andre Fleury did not return for the third period after Tyler Kennedy collided with him late in the second period.
Dan Bylsma offered no update on Fleury’s condition after the game, so that’s still very much up in the air.
However, the play that led to the injury is up for debate.
Fleury had just covered up a puck and gotten the whistle when Kennedy plowed into him. The debate is whether or not Montreal’s Brian Gionta pushed him into Fleury.
Kennedy was the first forward back on the play and was attempting to catch up to Gionta to prevent a potential rebound opportunity. As Fleury covers the puck, Gionta begins to pull up and stop. However, contact is made between Kennedy and Gionta, which led to Kennedy bowling over his goaltender.
I can see both sides to this because there is no clear camera angle that shows absolute intent from Gionta.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Gionta has been involved with a goaltender being injured. Back in 2011, Gionta collided with Toronto’s James Reimer, which forced the young goaltender to miss over a month.
The other thing not working in Gionta’s favor on the play is the reaction of the Penguins players. Obviously, in the moments after the play the players on the ice are going to stick up for their fallen teammate. That’s nothing new regardless of intent.
Matt Cooke must be a WWE fan because he was ready to choke slam Gionta behind the net during the ensuing scrum.
However, what may be telling of the situation is how the Penguins carried that animosity over into the third period. Right off the opening draw of the final frame, Cooke was trying to get Gionta to drop the gloves.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Gionta refused to oblige. According to his fight card on HockeyFights.com, Gionta has only dropped the gloves twice in his career. The only time he’s fought in the regular season was his second year in the league in 2002-03 against Todd Marchant.
Of course, a roughing minor was eventually called on Cooke that everyone in the building and at home knew was coming,
After the Penguins killed it off, they continued to try and send a message to Gionta. The question then becomes, were they just sticking up for their goaltender, or do they know Gionta intended to have Kennedy land on Fleury?
Again, you could make the argument either way and could do so very easily. In the end, Gionta is really the only one who knows for sure.
As for Fleury, he was able to finish out the final few seconds of the second period, but looked visibly uncomfortable as he went off the ice for the intermission.
Even more bad news was revealed Wednesday morning.
Kris Letang returned to the lineup last night after dealing with a lower-body injury. Now, he will reportedly miss more time.
According to RDS’ Renaud Lavoie, Letang’s lower-body injury is still an issue, but he also suffered a broken toe against the Canadiens.
It would be a pretty safe bet that Bylsma will also address Letang’s situation at the team’s practice Wednesday morning.
The good news is the Penguins have a surplus of defenders and will likely welcome newly-acquired Douglas Murray to the lineup on Thursday against Winnipeg.
Either way, today should be pretty interesting. Stay tuned for more.
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice