Saturday, April 10, 2010

The NHL's Boston Bruins found a hot scoring hand at an odd time this afternoon -- while outnumbered on the ice by the opposing team. As part of a 4-2 win over Carolina, Boston achieved the unpredented feat of scoring three shorthanded goals within the same penalty!

For readers who don't follow hockey closely -- or at all -- it is important to note that goals by a shorthanded team (that has lost a player due to penalty) are extremely rare. Given its precarious situation, a shorthanded team will usually be very defensive-minded, staying near the goal it is defending and hitting the puck to the other end of the rink (i.e., "icing the puck") to kill time and get a reprieve from the advantaged team's offensive attack (icing is not allowed when teams are at equal strength, but is permitted for a shorthanded team).

Statistics for the current season show that even the team with the most shorthanded goals in the league (as of April 9), the Chicago Blackhawks, don't have that many, 13 in 81 games. The Tampa Bay Lightning has scored only two shorthanded goals in 80 games. Thus, Boston today scored more shorthanded goals during a single two-minute penalty than Tampa Bay has scored all season!

As documented in the play-by-play sheet, the following sequence of events took place:

The Bruins' Matt Hunwick got a two-minute hooking penalty with 18 seconds remaining in the first period. Those 18 seconds expired uneventfully, sending the teams to the locker room for a break, but Boston still had to play short-handed with Hunwick in the penalty box for the first 1:42 of the second period (unless Carolina scored, in which case Boston, as the shorthanded team, would immediately be restored to its full complement of skaters).

When action resumed, however, it was Boston doing all the quick scoring, racking up goals with 0:32, 1:21, and 1:36 having elapsed in the second period. Ironically, it must have been Carolina, and not Boston, who was relieved when the Bruins' penalty ended!

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