NHL Rink Wrap: Crosby helps Penguins win again; Oilers’ struggles continue

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Top player in the NHL on Wednesday

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to nine games on Wednesday night with an impressive 5-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Had it not been for goaltending (some strong goaltending early on by Jordan Binnington and a tough night for Casey DeSmith before he was benched by Pittsburgh) this game could have easily gotten away from the Blues. Crosby played a key role in the Penguins’ win, recording rqo points including the game-tying goal midway through the third period. The Penguins are looking really impressive this season and are about to get Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup for the first time this season. Crosby is also starting to find his rhythm after a slow start coming back from offseason wrist surgery. After Wednesday’s performance he now has 20 points in his past 13 games, and 22 points in 20 games for the season overall.

Highlights from around the NHL on Wednesday

John Tavares extended his point streak to seven consecutive games thanks to a lucky bounce off the boards.

The Pittsburgh Penguins scored two goals in 12 seconds thanks to take the lead in the third period against the St. Louis Blues. Sidney Crosby and Evan Rodrigues scored the goals, with Crosby tying the game and Rodrigues giving them the lead on a power play goal following a delay of game penalty after the Blues lost a challenge for potential goaltender interference.

Leon Draisaitl added to his league-leading goal scoring title by scoring his 26th goal of the season on Wednesday night.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Wednesday

The Oilers struggles continue

The Edmonton Oilers losing streak reached five games on Wednesday night with a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They did not have Connor McDavid due to COVID protocols, and as expected the offense struggled without him. The Oilers are now 18-14-2 on the season after a 9-1-0 start. The problems are the same as they have been for years. No scoring depth beyond the top two players, a weak defense, and questionable goaltending. Here is another stat that is eye-opening: They have not won a game with Dave Tippett behind the bench since December 1. They are 2-9-2 since then, with those only two wins happening while Tippett was away from the team in protocols. Another thing to watch on Thursday is that if the Los Angeles Kings beat the Nashville Predators, the Kings would jump the Oilers in the Wild Card standings and dump them out of a playoff position for the time being. A San Jose win against Buffalo would also bring them to within a point of the Oilers. It remains a staggering failure on the part of the front office that this team is not better than this given the two superstars at the top. This team should be competing with Vegas and Colorado for the top spot in the Western Conference right now. Not competing with Los Angeles and San Jose for a Wild Card spot.

Penguins should be in the market for another goalie

The Pittsburgh Penguins look like Stanley Cup contenders as long as the goaltending does not repeat what it did in the playoffs a year ago. Tristan Jarry has been outstanding so far this season as the starter and has done a nice job rebounding from his playoff series performance. His backup, Casey DeSmith, however, has not been as productive. Going back to the end of the 2020-21 season he has now allowed at least three goals in 11 of his past 14 starts, including nine starts with at least four goals. He got the start on Wednesday and was benched midway through the second period after giving up three goals, including one just moments after the Penguins scored their first goal of the game. The quick hook from coach Mike Sullivan was telling for a lot of reasons. For starters, it was only three goals. Also because the Penguins are playing the first part of a back-to-back and will be on the road on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Given that Jarry is still a question mark and an unknown for the Stanley Cup playoffs, a more solid, capable backup goalie should be a focal point for general manager Ron Hextall and the Penguins’ front office this season.

Another strong showing for Jack Campbell

Probably one of the most unexpected developments in the NHL over the past two years has been Jack Campbell’s emergence as the starting goalie in Toronto. He won another game on Wednesday, improving his record to 17-5-2 on the season with a .940 save percentage. In his first 52 starts with the Maple Leafs over the past two seasons he is now 37-10-5 with a .930 save percentage, making him one of the most productive goalies in the NHL during that time. He went from first-round question mark to Vezina Trophy contender almost over night.

Thursday’s big story

There are 11 games on the NHL schedule for Thursday and a couple of notable ones to keep an eye on. For starters, the Dallas Stars are finally back on the ice for a game for the first time in three weeks when they play the Florida Panthers. There is also a great rivalry matchup in Philadelphia where the Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins who are trying to extend their current winning streak to 10 consecutive games. There is also a great interconference matchup in Vegas when the Golden Knights host the New York Rangers in what could be a potential Stanley Cup Final preview.

Wednesday’s NHL Scores

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Edmonton Oilers 2
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, St. Louis Blues 3
New York Islanders vs. Vancouver Canucks (Postponed)

More NHL News

Oilers’ Tippett says criticism of Koskinen ‘was taken out of... Forsberg, trade deadline present Predators with tricky decisions Where it all went wrong for the Kraken this season

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Rink Wrap: Crosby helps Penguins win again; Oilers’ struggles continue originally appeared on NBCSports.com