Saturday night saw a pair of All-Star goaltenders do what we expect out of them; one has been doing it all season while the other is looking to get back on track. Also, we take a look back at the first goaltender to score a goal by actually shooting the puck into the net and a big night for the Subban family.
Bobrovsky is Sharpe in Return to Crease
Sergei Bobrovsky spent the last seven seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets and had a great deal of success. He won the Vezina Trophy for being the league’s best goaltender in both 2013 and 2017. He was also in the net when the Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning last spring in one of the biggest upsets in Stanley Cup playoffs history.
Bobrovsky took his talents to South Beach on July 1 when he signed a seven-year, $70 million contract with the Florida Panthers. However, the first season of his big new deal has not gotten off to the greatest of starts. In his first 19 games with the Panthers, Bobrovsky went 9-6-4 with a 3.48 goals-against average (GAA) and .884 save percentage (SV%). Those are hardly the numbers one would expect out of a $10 million netminder.
His struggles got him some extra time off, but he was back in between the pipes on Saturday night when the Blue Jackets came to town. Bobrovsky made 33 saves in his first start since Nov. 27 and beat his former team 4-1. He took a shutout into the third period but allowed a goal to Vladislav Gavirkov midway through the final frame.
“It’s kind of weird to face your former teammates. It’s a different feeling,” he said after his triumphant return to the crease. “I spent seven years in Columbus, so I appreciate this organization and everything they have done for me.”
With the victory, Bobrovsky now has a win against all 31 NHL teams. The Panthers are scheduled to play in Columbus on Dec. 31 and you can bet Bobrovsky will get the starting nod on that night as well.
Bishop Keeps Chugging Along
A couple of weeks ago, the Dallas Stars were one of the hottest teams in the league until they hit a rough patch of just one point in four games. They have bounced back nicely with a pair of wins since then, including Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the New York Islanders.
Ben Bishop made 34 saves to pick up his 11th win of the season, including this big save versus Scott Mayfield in the third period.
Unfortunately for Bishop, he lost his shutout bid a couple of minutes later when Matt Barzal scored off of a redirection.
“I thought we played a great game there,” Bishop said during his postgame media scrum. “Guys were feeding off each other all night. We just kept it going, we didn’t let off the gas. It’s nice to get a couple wins here, hopefully, we keep it rolling into the holiday.”
Bishop has been playing great all season and especially of late. Since Oct. 19, he has given up two goals or fewer in 13 of his 15 starts.
This Date in Goaltender History
On Dec. 8, 1979, Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers became the first goaltender in the history of the National Hockey League to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net. With just over a minute left in the game, Hextall fired the puck into the vacated Boston Bruins net to make history.
This feat came just 10 days after Billy Smith of the New York Islanders became the first goaltender to ever be credited with a goal. The difference between the two was that Smith was the last Islander to touch the puck before Colorado Rockies’ defenseman Rob Rampage’s backward pass, during a delayed penalty, accidentally went into his own net. Hextall worked his magic a second time when he scored a goal during a Stanley Cup playoff game against the Washington Capitals in 1989.
Dec. 8 was also a big date for the Subban family back in 2017 when the Vegas Golden Knights traveled to Nashville to take on the Predators. Malcolm Subban started in goal for the Golden Knights while is older brother P.K. manned the blue line for the Predators.
This marked the 10th time in NHL history when a set of brothers played against each other when one was a goaltender and the other was a skater. Malcolm was the big winner of the Subban versus Subban matchup in 4-3 shootout victory for the visiting Golden Knights. He made 41 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped all six shots he saw in the shootout. P.K. was held off the scoresheet.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.