Max Pacioretty could have had a night for the ages.
Come to think of it, he did.
The Montreal Canadiens forward had a hat trick in the Habs’ 5-2 win over Vancouver on Thursday. That’s no big deal. But Pacioretty became the first NHL player to be awarded two penalty shots in a game — and miss them both.
Pacioretty was pulled down from behind in the second period and awarded a penalty shot. But he was stymied by Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. One minute and 50 seconds later, Pacioretty was hooked while on a breakaway and again a penalty shot was called.
Already tired, Pacioretty slowly skated in on Luongo, made a half-hearted deke and whiffed again.
But he made up for it with an early third-period goal, then added an empty-netter to complete the hat trick. But what if he had converted the penalty shots? We’re talking a five-goal game, which would have put Pacioretty in some pretty exclusive company. Among the 44 players who had five or more goals in a game are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Maurice Richard and Bryan Trottier.
Instead, Pacioretty carved out his own niche in hockey’s history books with his performance at the Bell Centre.
■ NECK TATTOO NIGHT — If you have nothing better to do Feb. 21, hop a flight to Memphis, Tenn., and be one of the first 5,000 fans through the door at the FedEx Forum so you can be the proud owner of a Grizzlies neck tattoo.
That’s right. A neck tattoo.
OK, before you get all worked up, it’s not a real tattoo like the one Grizzlies forward James Johnson sports to honor his son Naymin, who was born prematurely in March and spent six weeks in intensive care. It’s a clear sticker that goes on your neck.
But the promotion pays homage to Johnson, who was signed out of the D-League in mid-December and has become a fan favorite in Memphis with his energy off the bench and defense (he leads the NBA with 15 blocked 3-point shot attempts).
“The tattoo he got wasn’t a symbol of toughness,” Grizzlies chief operating officer Jason Wexler told ESPN.com. “It was a transformational moment in his life, and that resonates with our fans and fits in with everything we are.”
■ BIG Z’S ‘BIG’ BED — By now, you’ve heard the horror stories coming out of Sochi, Russia, about accommodations for the Winter Olumpics media and the housing for the athletes, which are a step up from a gulag.
Consider the plight of Zdeno Chara, the Boston Bruins defenseman who stands 6 feet 9 inches tall and will play for Slovakia’s hockey team. The beds were a little short to handle 6-9 guys, so the Slovaks got the folks in charge to rig up some sort of an extension so Chara’s legs don’t dangle off the bed.
Hopefully, the NHLers who are headed to Sochi next week aren’t claustrophobic. The setup for Team Canada has three to a room. It’s probably the same for the other hockey teams. For guys who are used to five-star luxury hotels on the road, this could be the biggest adjustment of all. Can you picture Sidney Crosby snoring and keeping his two bunkmates up all night?
Maybe that was the Russians’ plan all along so they can get back to the medal stand — make the other teams too tired to skate.
COMPILED BY STEVE CARP LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL