New York Rangers blueliner Keith Yandle has suited up for 579 games since entering the NHL in 2006-07, but even in the age of the shootout, the offensive defenseman has only participated in the game-deciding skills competition twice. He didn’t score on either attempt.
But Monday evening, Yandle changed his fortunes when going one-on-one with the netminder.
In overtime, Yandle followed Scott Laughton to the top of the zone, where Laughton lost his footing. Yandle hopped on the loose puck and broke up ice with Laughton pestering him from behind. While breaking to the inside and attempting to ward off Laughton’s stick checks, the Flyers center got his stick in around Yandle’s hands, which was enough for a hooking call to be made and a penalty shot to be awarded.
Skating in on Flyers netminder Steve Mason, Yandle made no mistake on the penalty shot attempt:
In nearly 600 games in the shootout era, that was Yandle’s first in-game penalty shot goal in the NHL. Too bad it wasn’t in the regular season, because even this won’t show up in the history books.
If the goal of 3-on-3 overtime was to eliminate shootouts and up the tempo in overtime, it would be difficult to call it anything but a success right now. So far this pre-season, only four games have made it past the extra frame and to a shootout.
And Yandle’s winning tally highlights one of the big reasons why 3-on-3 will limit the number of contests going to shootout. With the amount of space players are given to operate in, there’s large vacant spaces all over the ice. Any little mistake can quickly turn into an opportunity for the opposition, and Yandle’s penalty shot attempt won’t be the last of its kind this season.
Already, two overtime contests this pre-season have ended in less than 20 seconds. Generally, games are ending within two minutes. But even the rare contests — the ones that go into the fourth minute of 3-on-3 — are still finding closure before the shootout.