clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot: 1/21/2024 - 1/27/2024

In the fifteenth weekly Metropolitan Division snapshot of the season, the Philadelphia Flyers were the only team to win their week, the New York Islanders changed coaches after a winless road trip, and the bottom half of the division remains a fight for playoff spots currently owned by the Atlantic Division. All this and more in this week’s snapshot.

New York Rangers v Vegas Golden Knights
“Still in first, we have tiebreakers, still in first, come on still in first...”
Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images

In the fifteenth week of the 2023-24 Metropolitan Division snapshots, the division standings have been broken up into two groups. The first group is a battle for first, occupying all three guaranteed playoff spots. The New York Rangers are in front, the hot Philadelphia Flyers are right behind them, and the Carolina Hurricanes are in the distance after cooling off some. The second group are four teams of wild card hopefuls with three points separating the Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the New York Islanders. The Islanders fired their head coach, Lane Lambert, and replace him with the, um, interesting Patrick Roy. They will look to break the mold from the others. The Columbus Blue Jackets are in a class of their own at the bottom. Even with this current split - which may not even last - every night matters in this division. The races remain tight this early into the second half of the NHL season. Here is where everyone stands today:

Metropolitan Division Standings as of the morning of January 21, 2024
Metropolitan Division Standings as of the morning of January 21, 2024

In terms of what’s next, it is another week light on games within the division. Just one, in fact. It is still highlighted and in bold for your convenience. If you love Eastern vs. Western Conference matchups, then this week is for you with Las Vegas in the area, and four teams traveling outside of the Eastern Time Zone. Here is this week’s schedule for all eight teams.

Metropolitan Division Schedule for January 21, 2024 through January 27, 2024
Metropolitan Division Schedule for January 21, 2024 through January 27, 2024
Schedules via

Now for the week that was and the week that will be for each team in the Metropolitan Division.

New York Rangers

What Happened Last Week: The New York Rangers started to rebound from their winless week from the prior snapshot. Then they dropped the last two games to ultimately split the week at 2-2-0. Their hold in first is getting weaker, even with a game in hand on Philly and tiebreakers in their favor.

January 14, vs. Washington, 2-1 Win: The Rangers needed to respond to the loss in the first half of the home-and-home. They would in a low-scoring game. Artemi Panarin scored 50 seconds into the game and Alexis Lafreniere scored with 50 seconds left in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. A lead that they were able to maintain thanks to limiting Washington to 25 shots on net and Igor Shesterkin stopping just about all of them. There was reason to be worried after a Dylan Strome attempt hit off T.J. Oshie and went in. 2-1 for almost half of the game, but it held true. The Rangers ended their slide and split the home and home.

January 16, vs. Seattle, 5-2 Win: The Rangers got to host Seattle after they saw their winning streak end in Pittsburgh on Monday. That may have helped in a comfortable 5-2 win. Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring with a power play goal, which was answered a bit later by Jordan Eberle with a PPG of his own. Erik Gustafsson would break the tie on the shift after Eberle’s PPG - and the Rangers would not look back. Blake Wheeler tipped in a Jonny Brodzinski shot to make it 3-1 in the third. Kaapo Kakko (he exists!) scored late in the second to expand the lead to 4-1. Jared McCann would convert a power play with over five minutes left in the third to invite some drama. But nothing came of it and Wheeler iced the game with an empty netter minutes later. A very fine win over a possibly tired team.

January 18, at Las Vegas, 5-1 Loss: Las Vegas was missing Jack Eichel, Adin Hill, Shea Theodore, William Karlsson, Adin Hill, William Carrier, Ben Hutton, and Tobias Bjornfot among others. The G-Knights still put a beating on the Metropolitan Division leaders. Jonathan Marchessault was still healthy and scored in the first period. Ivan Barbashev was feeling real good with a goal minutes after Marchessault’s opening score and a PPG late in the second period to make it 3-0. On the shift after the PPG, Keegan Kolesar got on the board to make it 4-0. Shesterkin was beat while Logan Thompson faced and stopped all 19 shots through to the third period. Alas, a late delay of game call on Byron Froese was punished 40 seconds into the third period by Mika Zibanejad. But it was a consolation goal. New York still pulled their goalie with a late power play due to a Marchessault slashing penalty. Brett Howden sunk in the shorthanded ENG to complete the decisive loss. Las Vegas and New York can both say: Spare your excuses about injured rosters.

January 20, at Los Angeles, 2-1 Loss: Jonathan Quick was a key part of the best seasons the Kings have ever had. He returned to Los Angeles for the first time and even got the start. The Rangers, well, did not really show up well to start as Los Angeles out-shot the Rangers 12-2 in the first period. With 35 seconds left in the first period, Kevin Fiala beat Quick to open the scoring. The Rangers would respond in the second period with a goal from Chris Kreider. The game picked up a bit but it seemed David Rittich and Quick would drag this game into overtime. Then Jaret Anderson-Dolan broke through on Quick. K’Andre Miller cleared the puck off the line - and right into a space for Quintin Byfield to bury it into the net. This happened with 1:47 left in regulation and it was the difference maker. The Rangers lost their second straight on the trip, 2-1.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The California part of their road trip will conclude in this week coming up. They will go to Anaheim tonight and then visit San Jose on Tuesday. They should win both; but they have to avoid complacency. The Rangers will get a shot at revenge against the Golden Knights as Las Vegas will come to MSG on Friday night. The Rangers cannot leave it all on the ice there; they have Ottawa to visit on Saturday night and that is another game to avoid being ensnared in a loss. The Rangers remain in control of their destiny. Yet, if they are not careful, they may actually slip in the standings for the first time in a long time.

Philadelphia Flyers

What Happened Last Week: The Flyers were hot. Five straight wins including two this week to win it at 2-1-0. They were the only team in the division to win this past week. Alas, the streak ended with a thud in Philly against a top Central Division team. Still, the Flyers can look down on many in the division from second place. That is a reason to feel good.

January 15, at St. Louis, 4-2 Win: The Philadelphia Flyers pulled out a victory in St. Louis in a high-event affair. Seriously, both teams combined for 72 shots. It took until the second period before Joel Hofer and Carter Hart would be beaten though. Scott Laughton opened the scoring early in the second to make it 1-0 for the Flyers. Late in the period, a Gartnet Hathaway high-sticking penalty was punished by Oscar Sundqvist to make it 1-1. But with 7 seconds left in the second, Ryan Poehling put the Flyers up 2-1. Brandon Saad did not take that lying down, he scored just 1:18 into the third to make it 2-2. It was tense. But the deciding goal would come from a Flyer stick: Owen Tippett would recover a failed zone entry, beat his defender, and roof a backhander for a highlight reel worthy go-ahead goal. Joel Farabee put in an empty netter to secure another win for the Flyers.

January 18, vs. Dallas, 5-1 Win: Proverbially dumping the books of a Western Conference division contender is always a good feeling. Plenty to love if you are a Flyers fan and/or Stars hater. For one, the Flyers out-shot the Stars 43-15. Seriously. For another, the Flyers took just two penalties all game. For a third, check out the scoring. Scott Walker scored with a minute left in the first period. Then Owen Tippett made it 2-0 early on. Tyler Seguin would make it a one-shot game. The game blew open in the third period. First, a high-sticking penalty by Thomas Harley late in the second period was punished near its end in the third period by Cam Atkinson. Second, Joel Hanley hooked Scott Laughton on a breakaway. The penalty shot was given and Laughton beat Jake Oettinger for the 4-1 lead. Third, Tippett took a missed shot by Hanley, rushed up ice, pulled a spin move on a Star before roofing the backhander top cheese. The Flyers just styled and profiled all over the Stars in this one. A big statement to those expecting the Flyers to fade anytime soon too.

January 20, vs. Colorado, 7-4 Loss: The five-game winning streak got ripped apart by the Avalanche. The Flyers put in the effort to be sure. But Colorado went up early and never looked back. Logan O’Connor deflected a Ross Colton play to open the scoring about halfway through the first period. Mikko Rantanen made it 2-0 late in the first. Nathan MacKinnon scored 43 seconds into the second period to really put the screws to the Flyers. Philly would get a response from Joel Farabee shortly thereafter to make it 3-1. But every time the Flyers took a step forward, the Avs pushed them back. Logan O’Connor scored later on in the second period to make it 4-1. Minutes after that Travis Konecny made it 4-2. Late in the second, MacKinnon did it again to make it 5-2. Carter Hart was replaced at intermission. Presumably, John Tortorella inspired his team as the Flyers would make it a one goal game in the third period. Tyson Foerster and Cam Atkinson made it 5-4 with 11 minutes and change left. Would they complete the comeback? No. Scott Laughton took a hooking penalty and Rantanen scored on that power play to make it 6-4. O’Connor completed his hat trick in the afternoon with an empty netter to seal the loss. 40 shots, a big push to make a result possible in the third period, but the Avalanche was just too much to overcome. Alas.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Flyers will have more to play but they are in the form they may want to be in for this busy week coming up. First, they have another afternoon game today. They will host Ottawa. Then they will host Tampa Bay on Tuesday in a game where some Metropolitan teams want the Lightning to win and others want them to lose. The Flyers have that power now. They will get to do so again when they visit Detroit on Thursday night. Their week will end with an early afternoon game at home against the mighty Boston Bruins. With how Philly is playing, do you doubt their chances?

Carolina Hurricanes

What Happened Last Week: Carolina had a short but not as successful week. Their hot streak ended although they got another win to bounce back. A split week (1-1-0) did see them fall to third behind the hot Flyers. They remain ahead of the rest of the wild card group, though.

January 15, vs. Los Angeles, 5-2 Loss: Los Angeles has been road warriors this season and they showed it in Raleigh on MLK Jr. Day. They needed it as they were slumping bad; a nine game winless streak. Carolina could not make it ten. Trevor Moore was the lone scorer in the first period to put the Kings up. Jordan Martinook scored in the second period to make it 1-1 through to intermission. Then the bottom fell out for the Hurricanes early in the third period. 1:01 into the third: Phillip Danault scored. 2:21 into the third: Alex Laferriere scored. 5:20 into the third: Pierre-Luc DuBois scored. 1-1 quickly became 4-1. Antti Raanta was pulled for Yaniv Perets. Jack Drury kept some hope alive with a goal before the nine minute mark. But there would be no comeback bid. Even with the Canes holding Los Angeles to one (1) shot on Perets all period. A late delay of game call on Trevor Lewis yielded a shorthanded ENG for Moore to end the game at 5-2. Not the way to end a hot streak, Canes, but it was what it was.

January 19, vs. Detroit, 4-2 Win: This was a close victory for the Hurricanes. Despite holding Detroit to only twelve shots - yes, 12, as in a dozen in 60 minutes - all game. Klim Kostin scored early in the game to put the Canes down. This was answered less than a minute later by Jordan Martinook. The score held surprisingly at 1-1 in a low-shooting hockey game. It seemed that Carolina broke through when Martin Necas scored with over three and a half minutes left in the second period. But then Jaccob Slavin took a penalty with just over a minute left in the period. J.T. Compher converted the power play 20 seconds into that to make it a 2-2 game. Carolina would break the tie later on with their lone power play of the game, a quick punishment of a Jeff Petry tripping minor by Andrei Svechnikov. With only four shots allowed, Antti Raanta got them all in the third. Sebastian Aho secured the win with an empty netter to end one of the stranger 4-2 wins you would see on a scoresheet.

What’s Coming Up This Week: Carolina will be a whole lot more active this week. They will start off tonight with a home game against Minnesota. They have been struggling so the Canes will look to make it rain more misery on them. Then the Hurricanes have a really tough back-to-back set in the middle of the week. They will travel to Boston on Wednesday and then go to New Jersey on Thursday. The Devils may be desperate and the B’s are legitimately good. Following that, the Hurricanes will host an Arizona team that is nobody’s doormat on Saturday night. After just four games over the last two weeks, they will play four in this one.

Washington Capitals

What Happened Last Week: The Washington Capitals split the week. It was bookended with losses, but the two wins in the middle did keep them in fifth place in the division. Also, right outside of the wild card spots. Alas, last night’s loss hurt a chance to close the gap on the top three.

January 14, at NY Rangers, 2-1 Loss: The Capitals were stunned early in this one and could not recover. Artemi Panarin beat Charlie Lindgren just 50 seconds into the game. And not only could the Caps not respond in the first period, Alexis Lafreniere scored with 50 seconds left in the first period to make it a deeper hole. They got a break when a Dylan Strome attempt seemingly hit off T.J. Oshie to go in and make it 2-1 with just under half of the game left in regulation. But they struggled to attack much less beat Igor Shesterkin. And so they fell short 2-1 in the second half of a home and home.

January 16, vs. Anaheim, 2-0 Win: Washington got it right by hosting and beating the Ducks. Ethan Bear scored his first goal as a Capital late in the first period to make it 1-0. And that would be the only goal to beat John Gibson. Both he and Darcy Kuemper were great even if they faced 27 and 24 shots respectively. Kuemper was the star as he had to protect the small lead all the way until the final minute. That was when Tom Wilson put in an empty net goal. A win is a win and shutout win is always an added reason to be positive.

January 18, vs. St. Louis, 5-2 Win: T.J. Oshie was the star in this one. He opened the scoring with a PPG to punish a Sundqvist tripping penalty. The Caps survived a double-minor given to Hendrix Lapierre, but Nathan Walker would tie it up late in the first. In the second period, Nicolas Aube-Kubel broke the 1-1 tie early on. Just past the halfway mark, Oshie would convert a power play. That punished a Torey Krug holding penalty and put the Caps up 3-1. In the third period, Dylan Strome made it 4-1 34 seconds in to really put the game in Washington’s hands. Walker would tip in a Justin Faulk shot to make it 4-2 a few minutes after, but the Blues - held to 20 shots total - were not coming back. Oshie ended it with 20 seconds left with an empty netter. The hats rained down to celebrate Oshie’s hat trick, a key part of this 5-2 win for Washington.

January 20, at St. Louis, 3-0 Loss: The runback went badly for the Caps. Not only did Jordan Binnington shut them out, but he stopped just 18 shots on net. 18! Just 46 attempts on net, too and 27 were unblocked. Rough. The Blues did not care. Colton Parayko scored an early shorthanded goal to put the Caps down early. Braeden Schenn made it a 2-0 game in the second period for added insurance. Jake Neighbours tipped in a Robert Thomas shot to convert a power play for what would be the 3-0 final. A very fine game for the Blues. A rough loss for the Caps that keeps them where they are in the standings instead of gaining ground on Carolina and Philadelphia.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Capitals will be on the road all week. They will have a tricky back-to-back to navigate on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will visit a struggling Minnesota team on Tuesday and then have to turn around to visit a strong Colorado team the next night. Then they will play a legitimately good Dallas team in Dallas for an afternoon affair on Saturday. The Caps have been doing well, but some wins over some playoff-bound squads would not only help their standing but increase their confidence.

New Jersey Devils

What Happened Last Week: Desperate times continue. Weeks like that do not help the cause. The Devils went 1-3-0. They ended up in fifth due to some help from others, but their position is far from secure.

January 15, at Boston, 3-0 Loss: The Devils went to Boston for an afternoon affair on MLK Jr. Day. The Devils quickly learned that Boston was A) super good and B) Nico Daws was just as good to hold off the Bruins from a 16-shot onslaught in the first period. Alas, the Bruins would break through in the second period as Charlie Coyle put a backhander past Daws just 30 seconds into the middle frame. The Devils came out of their shell and competed with the B’s for that period. They made Jeremy Swayman work. They would not beat him but they made him get some sweat. Unfortunately, the Devils were put down further. A Max Willman minor penalty was punished by David Pastrnak shortly after Daws bailed out his team multiple times to make it 2-0. The Devils pulled Daws for an extra skater late, but a diving Trent Frederic beat out a diving Simon Nemec to put in an empty netter (one that Brad Marchand missed twice on) for the 3-0 final. At least the Devils beat the Bruins once this season?

January 17, vs. Montreal, 3-2 Loss: The New Jersey Devils lost this winnable game to a team that is not so far behind them in the standings. After a start that can be best described as “sleepy,” Juraj Slafkovsky was the beneficiary of a Cole Caufield batted assist for the game’s first goal. The Devils tried to battle back in the second but Sam Montembeault was not having any of it. Worse, a bad pinch by John Marino, a bad decision to change lines, and an even worse coverage of a 2-on-1 against by Simon Nemec, yielded Joshua Roy’s first NHL goal to make it 2-0. However, Nick Suzuki took a double-minor for high sticking near the end of the second period. The Devils would get their PP drought over and take full advantage. Luke Hughes scored from distance shortly before the first minor ended. Then Alexander Holtz dropped a banger of a one-timer set up by Nemec to tie it up at 2-2. The Devils followed that quick double by a whole lot of not much on net, which allowed Montreal back into the game. The difference came when Sean Monahan put a shot on Nico Daws, Daws conceded the rebound, and Caufield got inside position on Marino to put the puck home with 4:31 left in regulation. The Devils could not and did not come back and so they got nothing in a home loss to Montreal.

January 19, at Columbus, 4-1 Win: The New Jersey Devils entered another back-to-back set needing points. The first game of the set has not been the problem at all this season. Not even after Vitek Vanecek was smoked by Cole Sillinger for Columbus’ first shot of the game in the first period. Sloppy as his footwork and positioning was, Vanecek would get just about everything the Blue Jackets threw at him after that goal allowed. Even with the help of 2 or 3 posts and a late third period goal disallowed for offside upon a coach’s challenge. The Devils struggled to beat Elvis Merzlikins until they did not. Specifically, 28 seconds into the second period, John Marino tied it up with a shot from above the high slot into traffic. Past the eight minute mark, Cal Foote registered his first point as a New Jersey Devils when he saw Alex Holtz wide open backdoor on the Blue Jackets. Pass, tap-in, 2-1. Minutes later, Nico Hischier had a pass defended away. He decided to just shoot the puck and the shot fooled Merzlikins to make it 3-1. Shortly after that, Kevin Bahl went in deep along the wall and just shoveled the puck to the front of the net. Nathan Bastian was in position to re-direct it into the net for 4-1. The Devils could cruise and they did for the most part. Vanecek did have to scramble quite a bit but it worked. The Devils got a solid win after a poor loss. Now the dreaded second half of the back-to-back would come at home.

January 20, vs. Dallas, 6-2 Loss: The Devils honored Sergei Brylin before this game. Then the team proceeded to get wrecked by Dallas for the better part of 60 minutes. Joe Pavelski punished a Cal Foote penalty to make it 1-0. Nico Daws tried to hold it down, the Devils could not immediately solve Scott Wedgewood, and the Stars made it worse in the second period for New Jersey. Roope Hintz had a shorthanded try during a penalty kill and was denied. He did not miss when he torched Simon Nemec and Nico Daws to make it 2-0. Late in the period, Matt Duchene effectively scored on Daws’ flank from an effective give-and-go with Tyler Seguin. With 18 seconds left in the period, the Devils lost Hintz in coverage. Wyatt Johnston found him to make it 4-0. Early in the third period, Craig Smith added to the misery to make it 5-0. Johnston schooled Luke Hughes before beating Daws in front to make it 6-0. Jesper Bratt and Tyler Toffoli scored the most consolation of consolation goals. Whatever fans that were left at the Rock were booing the Devils off the ice, except for any visiting Dallas fans and the weird NYR fans that seemingly show up at every Devils home game. This game stunk for the Devils and it really hurt a chance to move up in the standings.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Devils are still in must-need-points mode to stay in the mix, much less rise up within it. They will have three difficult opponents coming up to get results. They will host Las Vegas on Monday night. The G-Knights may be hurting but they are really, really good. Just ask the Rangers. On Thursday, the Devils will play the Hurricanes for the first time this season in Raleigh. This could be a big one. While the Canes are safely ahead of the Devils, a four-point swing in New Jersey’s favor would be huge for the Devils to build on. The Devils will go to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. While they lost in OT, they did get a point out of that one in their last trip to Tampa. Another result would be important. As would hoping they get some help on the out of town scoreboard. Like the other teams in this group.

New York Islanders

What Happened Last Week: The Islanders began a four-game road trip last Saturday with a loss. Since then, they continued to lose every game. A winless road trip! Brutal. At least they got a point in Chicago, but 0-2-1 is not going to help the Islanders any. They fell to sixth.

And it definitely did not help Lane Lambert. On Saturday afternoon, GM Lou Lamoriello made the decision to fire Lambert. His replacement: the return of Patrick Roy. Yes, Patrick Roy. A total wildcard of a guy behind the bench. He has done very well in the QMJHL and a second chance in the NHL was something to be argued. Now he takes over a team that does not know whether to make a big come back, blow a lead in the third period, lock it down defensively, or let their goalies face as many shots as possible. If nothing else, the Islanders will become more watchable. Whether that is through how they play or pure spectacle remains to be seen. By the way, the Isles are right in the standings with the Devils, Capitals, and Penguins. Something their respective head coaches may want to acknowledge.

January 15, at Minnesota, 5-0 Loss: Sometimes you are the hammer. Other times, you are the nail. The Islanders were the nail in St. Paul-Minneapolis on MLK Jr. Day. The team was held to 21 shots and shut out by Marc-Andre Fleury. Meanwhile, the Wild went, um, wild on the Isles for five goals out of 40 shots. An early Anders Lee penalty yielded a Mats Zuccarello PPG to open the scoring. One period later, Conno Dewar made it a 2-0 game. Ilya Sorokin was pulled after Joel Eriksson Ek converted a PPG to punish a Bo Horvat delay of game penalty. Ken Appleby (yes!) took to the net. All was good until the final four minutes. During a Kirill Kaprizov double-minor, Eriksson Ek was able to get free and beat Appleby shorthanded for a 4-0 score. Within the final minute, Marcus Foligno put a stamp on the game by making it 5-0. A rough time for the Royal Blue and Orange.

January 16, at Winnipeg, 4-2 Loss: At least they scored in Winnipeg. And they would get a lot more shots on net. It was even tied 1-1 after the first period; Gabe Vilardi’s goal was answered by Anders Lee. Alas, the Jets pulled away in the second period. Neal Pionk converted a power play within the final five minutes of the middle frame to make it 2-1. Mason Appleton made it a 3-1 game shortly after that. Lee would get a quick goal in the third period to make it a one-shot game. They made it interesting. But Connor Hellebuyck held true. The returning Kyle Connor put home an empty net goal to send the Isles back to America with a loss.

January 19, at Chicago, 4-3 OT Loss: The Islanders managed to fall to the Blackhawks in overtime. Early on, the Isles did well and ended the first period up 1-0 thanks to a Brock Nelson goal. This held until a bit of a collapse in the final two minutes of the second period. That was when Boris Katchouk and Joey Anderson scored 1:07 apart to make it 2-1 going into the third period. Chicago was held to three shots on net in the third period and they made it 3-1 over five minutes into that period thanks to Jason Dickinson. The Isles needed to scramble to make a comeback. Which they did. Bo Horvat scored 87 seconds after Dickinson’s goal to make it a one-shot game. They got that shot from Kyle Palmieri with 7:10 left in regulation. The Isles tried to break the deadlock but they could not. And overtime would be a brief punch to the stomach. Seth Jones scored his first goal of the year just 21 seconds into the fourth period to hand the Islanders another defeat.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Islanders will return home to start a tough four-games-in-seven-day stretch. Welcome to Long Island, Mr. Roy. They will host Dallas tonight. The Stars played in New Jersey the night before, so that is an advantage for the returning Isles. Any help they can get would be helpful. On Tuesday, they will get to host Las Vegas. Who will also have played in New Jersey the night before - another rest advantage for the Islanders. On Thursday, the Islanders will go up to Montreal and try to avoid dropping points. On Saturday, the Islanders will host a tough Florida team. This week could be pivotal after just earning three wins so far in January. Roy needs to hit the ground running at his new job.

Pittsburgh Penguins

What Happened Last Week: The Pittsburgh Penguins had a short week with just two games. They split them despite playing well for about five of those six periods. While not a losing result, it keeps them in seventh place in the division for the moment. Sure, they have at least one game in hand on everyone, but they remain in the back.

January 15, vs. Seattle, 3-0 Win: Seattle was on fire with nine straight wins going into Pittsburgh. It would not only end there but the Kraken would be held to no goals. In fact, they were held to just 22 shots on net. Tristan Jarry was perfect and the Penguins’ defense was strong. The Penguins needed a period to get on the board. It did not take long in the second to get one past Joey Daccord. Drew O’Connor scored 49 seconds into the second for the necessary goal of the game. Sidney Crosby scored a few minutes after that to make it 2-0. That held all the way to the end. Then Crosby put in an empty netter for his brace and a 3-0 final. A very solid win over a blazing hot opponent for a Penguins team that still needs victories. Very nice.

January 20, at Las Vegas, 3-2 Loss: All looked good for the Penguins within the first 40 minutes. The first period had zero goals in spite of the Penguins being out-shot 6-8 and taking two penalties. The Penguins broke through Logan Thompson in the second period. Ryan Graves scored less than a minute before the halfway mark. Jake Guentzel scored less than a minute after a power play ended to make it 2-0. Tristan Jarry seemed fine and the Penguins were in a good position heading into the third period. Then Bruce Cassidy and his charges decided enough was enough. The third period was all about the G-Knights and they took the game back within 10 minutes. Jonathan Marchessault got it started, Pavel Dorofeyev tied it up, and Brandon Brisson scored his first NHL goal at 9:40 of the third period from the slot to make it 3-2. The Penguins response was just four shots on net and a Bryan Rust penalty within the final minute. Oh, the Pens had five shots total in the third period. An awful third period sank the Penguins in this one.

What’s Coming Up This Week: The Penguins will take a trip to Arizona State University on Monday night to play the Coyotes. They are no one’s jobbers. The Penguins will have to bring it in that one. Then the Penguins return home for a potentially frustrating back-to-back set. The Penguins will host Florida on Friday night, which will be a tough match-up. Then they will host Montreal, who could make it a hard one on the second half of a back to back. It did take a shootout for the Pens to beat them in December, after all.

Columbus Blue Jackets

What Happened Last Week: The Columbus Blue Jackets went 1-1-0. That is an improvement over last week. And Elvis Merzlikins, despite wanting a trade, returned to the net against Vancouver. And did kind of OK. They also got Boone Jenner back this week. Not that the game they did that in went well, but returning players is a plus.

January 15, vs. Vancouver, 4-3 SO Win: Vancouver went into Ohio with five straight wins. It would not be six. There was a sense this would be a tough one for the visitors given that Yegor Chinakhov scored on the shift right after J.T. Miller scored the game’s first goal. Conor Garland did make it 2-1 for Vancouver later in the first period. But Columbus tied it up once more when Dmitri Voronkov tipped home an Adam Boqvist shot as a screener for a power play goal. Columbus would go down once again with an Elias Pettersson PPG later on in the second period. That would hold until just past halfway through the third period. Voronkov would emerge again to tuck a puck past Casey DeSmith at the right post to make it 3-3. The score would hold all the way to a shootout. There, Kirill Marchenko was the lone scorer to give the Blue Jackets the victory.

January 19, vs. New Jersey, 4-1 Loss: The Blue Jackets would get their beloved Boone Jenner back. They would lose Spencer Martin as he was waived (and claimed by Carolina). Nevertheless, the Jackets came out and survived an early push from the Devils. In fact, one rush saw Cole Sillinger finish a feed from Yegor Chinakhov past the prone glove of Vitek Vanecek. That was Columbus’ first shot and they went up 1-0. But they could not add to it. They could feel good that Elvis Merzlikins was stopping the Devils’ best chances. Until 28 seconds into the second period when John Marino launched a shot from above the high slot into traffic to make it 1-1. Columbus would hit iron and make Vanecek work - but the Devils blew the game wide open. Cal Foote found Alexander Holtz back door for a tap-in to make it 2-1. Nico Hischier had a pass attempt blocked, so he rifled a shot towards the net and it fooled Merzlikins to make it 3-1. Shortly after that, Kevin Bahl went deep down the wall, flung a puck to the crease, and Nathan Bastian re-directed it into the net. The Devils ripped apart the defensive zone coverage and Merzlikins for four goals. The Jackets tried to get back into the game and stepped up their attempts in the third period. 30 to be exact. Problem #1) Only 11 got on net. Problem #2) Vanecek, sloppy as he looked, got pieces and stops on all of them. The only shot to beat him - an Ivar Provorov shot off Sillinger - late in the third period was called back due to offside. And so the Blue Jackets were decisively defeated despite the opponent coming in with two losses and scoring on their first shot. At least no one got hurt on Columbus, right?

What’s Coming Up This Week: Columbus will hit the road. They will go up to Alberta and British Columbia. They will take on Edmonton on Tuesday, visit Calgary on Thursday, and go to Vancouver on Saturday. The latter could be interesting since the Blue Jackets did beat Vancouver last week. And none of those games are on a back-to-back set (although the Vancouver game starts one). Neither of them will be any easier for it but at least they will have a day without a game before each of those three.

That was the fifteenth Weekly Metropolitan Division Snapshot of the 2023-24 season. This upcoming week will be the last one for most of the teams before the All Star Weekend. (Sorry, Columbus.) To that end, what do you expect to see in this coming week? Who will win their week? Will the Rangers be toppled by Philadelphia or Carolina? How do you see Patrick Roy’s first week going in Long Island? Will the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and/or Washington Capitals rebound from bad losses that ended this past week? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the week that was and the week that will be for the Metropolitan Division in the comments. Thank you for reading.