Sidney Crosby passes Mario Lemieux, Minnesota Wild clinch, and more NHL action

Apr 24, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins centers Teddy Blueger (53) and Evan Rodrigues (9) and Sidney Crosby (87) and Jeff Carter (77) celebrate after defeating the New Jersey Devils at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sidney Crosby surpassed Mario Lemieux with just 0.1 on the clock yesterday. When the Penguins captain hit the empty net to defeat the Devils 4-2 it was his 20th goal of this shortened season. The marker made him the first Pens player to score 20 goals in 13 NHL seasons; Mario Lemieux and Evgeni Malkin did it 12 times each.

Sidney Crosby picks up more accolades in amazing career

That isn’t all Crosby accomplished yesterday. The goal was also his 55th point of the season which means he’s guaranteed to finish with a point-per-game campaign. That would mark 16 straight years for Crosby with Gordie Howe (17) and Wayne Gretzky (19) ahead of him. Congrats Sid.

“Anytime you’re mentioned with Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, that’s pretty neat,” Crosby said. “It’s also a reminder of how long I played too. So I think, like I said, it’s a compliment to be in that company.”

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Meanwhile, the only other East Division game so the Alex Ovechkin-less Capitals defeat the Islanders by a 6-3. Ovi missed the game with a lower-body injury and is listed a day-to-day. Evgeny Kuznetsov led Washington with a goal and two assists to maintain their hold of first by a point over the aforementioned Pens.

Minnesota Wild third team to clinch – all in the West

minnesota wild clinch
Apr 24, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro (38) defends against Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) during the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Congrats to the Minnesota Wild on being the third NHL team to clinch along with the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche. However; it also speaks to how weak the division is as the disparity between the top three teams and the rest of the West Division is stark.

Kirill “the thrill” Kaprizov has the Calder Trophy on lockdown as he scored in his fifth straight with 22 goals on the year. When it was all said and done, the Wild beat the Sharks 6-3. The victory also puts the Wild a point behind the Avalanche who lost to the Blues 5-3 thanks to a Ryan O’Reilly hat trick. St. Louis remains one point behind the Arizona Coyotes who shutout the Kings 4-0 to hold 4th place for now.

Finally, the Golden Knights beat the Ducks easily by a 5-1 margin. Robin Lehner picked up the win and was barely tested stopping 16 of 17 shots. Vegas increases their lead over the Avs for first place by 4 points.

Maple Leafs hold on first place grows and the rest of the NHL Action

joe thornton
Apr 18, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton (97) skates against the Vancouver Canucks in warm up at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to widen the gap between them and the Winnipeg Jets. At 41 years of age, Jumbo Joe Thornton became the oldest player in Leafs history to score a goal. The Leafs won this one 4-1 and now have an 8 point lead over the Jets for first in the North.

Also in the North, the battle for fourth still rages on because the Flames beat the Canadiens again. The 5-2 win narrows the gap to 4 points with the two teams set to face off again to complete the three game set.

Finally, the Panthers stopped the Carolina Hurricanes from clinching last night with a 4-3 win in OT. Aleksander Barkov scored the winner 24 seconds into OT for his 22nd of the season. Much like the West, the Canes, Cats, and Bolts are all going to clinch soon.