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Penguins’ no-name defense faces Predators’ unheralded centers

Tue, 30 May 2017 04:19:31 UT

Penguins’ no-name defense faces Predators’ unheralded centers Without top defenseman Kris Letang, the Penguins have to rely on their blue-line depth to help their forwards. Crosby, Malkin and wings such as Phil Kessel drive the Penguins’ offense just as left wing Filip Forsberg and the defensemen do for the Predators. [...] Nashville makes everything happen from its blue line, even after trading Shea Weber and Seth Jones within the past 16 months. “It’s remarkable we were able to trade (Weber and Jones and lose Ryan Suter in free agency in 2012) and still have arguably one of the best defenses in the National Hockey League,” general manager David Poile said. Sullivan said wing Patric Hornqvist would play in Game 1 after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. In addition to Fisher, Nashville could get Craig Smith back after the forward missed 12 of the past 13 games with an undisclosed injury. After beating the trap-oriented Senators in the East finals, the Penguins expect a faster pace against the Predators. Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray, 23, has won a Cup and is fresh because an injury cost him the first two rounds as Marc-Andre Fleury saved the Penguins.

Penguins top Senators in 2 OTs, head back to Finals

Fri, 26 May 2017 06:05:05 UT

PITTSBURGH — Chris Kunitz’s knuckling shot from outside the circle fluttered past goalie Craig Anderson 5 minutes, 9 seconds into the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night. Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby sent a soft backhand pass from the right face-off circle to Kunitz, whose shot allowed the defending Stanley Cup champions to advance. Justin Schultz added the other goal in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 27 shots on his 23rd birthday. “We wanted to make them earn it and they earned it, rightfully so,” said Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, who assisted on both of the Senators’ goals and played the entire postseason with two hairline fractures in his left heel. Robinson has been with the Sharks for five seasons, the first two as an associate coach. Robinson, a Hall of Fame defenseman who won the Stanley Cup six times as a player, joined the Sharks in 2012 after coaching the Kings and Devils.

Senators bounce back to beat Penguins, force Game 7

Wed, 24 May 2017 06:33:41 UT

OTTAWA — With their season on the line, the Senators found a way to dig a little deeper Tuesday, rebounding from a humiliating outing two days earlier to earn a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh that kept them from being eliminated. Mike Hoffman scored the winner 1 minute, 34 seconds into the third period, Bobby Ryan picked up his sixth goal of the playoffs, and Craig Anderson made 45 saves. Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, the defending Stanley Cup champion, the lead early in the second period, and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills; Viktor Stalberg got the best opportunity shorthanded during one of them. The 35-year-old struggled through Games 4 and 5 — allowing seven goals — but it was evident early that he had his game back in this one. The playoff scoring leader (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0-for-29 in the previous 10 games, produced, with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.

2 European free agents sign deals with Sharks

Tue, 23 May 2017 23:24:01 UT

“Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space,” general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. In 211 games in that league, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound defenseman scored 37 goals and recorded 54 assists. “Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge,” Wilson said.

Predators win West finals opener 3-2 on Neal goal in OT

Sat, 13 May 2017 05:42:54 UT

James Neal scored 9:24 into overtime, and the Nashville Predators kicked off their first appearance in the Western Conference finals with a 3-2 victory over the host Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for the Predators, who continued their surge through the Stanley Cup playoffs with a strong start and a gritty overtime effort after Hampus Lindholm’s first playoff goal in two years tied it for the Ducks at 7:21 of the third period. Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson scored in regulation for Nashville, which improved to 9-2 in the postseason. The Ducks got just one shot on goal in the first 13 minutes of Game 1, but Silfverberg put it into Rinne’s far top corner for his eighth goal in 12 games this spring, matching his goal total in 48 games over his previous six trips to the postseason. Watson then put the Predators ahead early in the second period with his first playoff goal, banking his shot in off Anaheim defenseman Sami Vatanen. The agreement comes three days after Dallas acquired his rights from the Kings for a fourth-round pick in next month’s NHL draft.

Rangers even series with Senators at 2-2

Fri, 5 May 2017 03:00:12 UT

Oscar Lindberg scored two goals, Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves and the host New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Thursday to tie the Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece. Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson left the game after the second with an undisclosed injury. Penguins center Sidney Crosby has resumed skating, but coach Mike Sullivan provided no update on when Pittsburgh’s captain will be ready to return from a concussion suffered Monday. Shipachyov, 30, had 26 goals and 50 assists in 50 games this season for SKA St. Petersburg in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

Penguins top Capitals in series opener

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 04:00:26 UT

Sidney Crosby scored twice in a 52-second span of the second period and Nick Bonino added the winning goal in the third as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the host Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second-round playoff series Thursday. Erik Karlsson scored with 4:11 left in the third period as host Ottawa beat New York in the East second-round series opener. Predators forward Kevin Fiala broke his left leg in Game 1 of a Western Conference second-round series with the Blues on Wednesday and is recovering from surgery to repair his femur, the team said Thursday. Stars forward Mattias Janmark, who missed the past season because of a knee injury, signed a $700,000 contract for next season. ... The NHL announced that Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno, Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and Flames defenseman Mark Giordano are the top three vote-getters for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

Sharks’ Joe Thornton played with torn ACL, MCL

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 03:20:08 UT

Sharks’ Joe Thornton played with torn ACL, MCL The team’s 37-year-old alternate captain was scheduled to undergo surgery for a torn ACL and MCL on his left knee Monday, a revelation divulged by head coach Peter DeBoer and confirmed by general manager Doug Wilson on the day players cleaned out their lockers to leave for an earlier-than-hoped-for summer. Thornton did not reveal the severity of his injury, which occurred April 2 and kept him out of the final three games of the regular season and first two of the Sharks’ six-game, first-round loss to Edmonton in the Stanley Cup playoffs. “I’ve been in the business a long time, and to see a player play with that type of injury tells you all you need to know about him,” Wilson added. “Yeah, I want to come back,” said Thornton, who has appeared in all but 12 of a possible 926 regular-season games in the 12 seasons since he was acquired by the Sharks from Boston. Fellow forward Patrick Marleau, the No. 2 player selected behind Thornton in the 1997 NHL draft, has reached the end of his contract, too. After scoring 27 goals (and 47 points) in the regular season, Marleau was the offense-starved San Jose leader with three goals against Edmonton. Thornton and Marleau “are legends,” Sharks defenseman Brent Burns said. In addition to unrestricted free agents Thornton, Marleau and Micheal Haley, younger players Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi, Chris Tierney and Marcus Sorensen and minor-league defenseman Mirco Mueller are restricted free agents. Top defensive defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and goalie Martin Jones have one year left on their deals, and Wilson said doling out extensions for both by training camp is a priority. First and foremost, though, is what the team does with Thornton and Marleau.

Senators, Capitals win in OT to finish series

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 04:41:01 UT

Marcus Johansson stuffed his second goal of the game past Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen at 6:31 of overtime, lifting the Washington Capitals to a series-winning 2-1 victory over the host Maple Leafs on Sunday night in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round matchup. Johansson pulled Washington even at 1-1 with less than eight minutes to go in the third period after Auston Matthews broke a scoreless tie five minutes earlier for Toronto, which missed the playoffs in the previous three seasons. “The loss is tough for sure, but when we got in here and looked at one another, there's a lot of pride that can be taken,” Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. The top-seeded Capitals will face the Penguins in the East semifinals. Clarke MacArthur grabbed a puck that deflected off Boston goalie Tuukka Rask and beat him on the rebound for the series-winner 6:30 into overtime as visiting Ottawa won Game 6 of its East series to eliminate the Bruins. The Senators, who hadn’t won a postseason series since 2013, will play the Rangers in the second round.

Sharks never really shook late-season slump

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 02:50:25 UT

Unlike recent postseason failures, there really wasn’t a sense of great despair or utter frustration in the Sharks’ locker room at SAP Center on Saturday night. The defending Western Conference champs, beat up and goal-starved, were done in six games of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. In spite of logging the second most travel miles in the league (48,872) and having an already short offseason cut shorter with the participation of seven of the team’s key performers at the late-summer World Cup of Hockey, the Sharks found themselves with a nine-point lead in the Pacific Division as late as March 15. At that point, it seemed likely the Sharks would start a first-round playoff series at home instead of on the road against a higher-seeded team. [...] San Jose was then in the hunt for the West’s No. 1 seed. [...] that all changed when the Sharks lost six straight games in regulation from March 16-25, scoring seven goals in the process. A 5-4 overtime win over the Rangers on March 28 only interrupted the slide, which continued with two more losses immediately afterward. The Sharks did right their course a bit with a 3-1 finish to the regular season. [...] two well-documented injuries to San Jose centers — Logan Couture took a puck to the mouth March 25, and Joe Thornton hurt his left knee April 2 — impacted the start of their playoff series against the Oilers. A few players are sure to extend their season with invitations to the World Championships (May 5-17), while some like Couture, who needs extensive dental work, will remain in San Jose.

Blues, Rangers win to wrap up first-round series

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:56:55 UT

Blues, Rangers win to wrap up first-round series Magnus Paajarvi scored 9:42 into overtime as the St. Louis Blues beat the host Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Saturday to wrap up the teams’ Western Conference first-round series in five games. St. Louis head coach Mike Yeo, fired by the Wild a little more than a year ago, said he took no special pleasure in beating Minnesota. Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period as host New York beat Montreal in Game 6 to advance to the East semis. “He’s a competitive little bugger,” New York head coach Alain Vigneault said of Zuccarello.

Sharks looking to survive in Game 6

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 02:27:42 UT

The Sharks’ coach pays no attention to the regular-season’s condensed schedule or the fact that so many of his key players participated in the World Cup of Hockey before preseason. The bottom line is it’s a razor-thin edge and we’ve been on the wrong side of it a couple of these games. If the Sharks are to mount any sort of run like last year’s journey to the Stanley Cup Finals, it has to start Saturday night in a do-or-die Game 6 against an Edmonton Oilers’ team up 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference showdown. San Jose had a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 5 and was still in position to make Saturday a potential series-clincher as it held a 3-2 lead for most of the third period. [...] Oscar Klefbom’s screened shot from the point at 17:14 tied it, and the Oilers dominated sudden death before David Desharnais finally ended it with his first series goal at 18:15. [...] Sharks goalie Martin Jones did everything he could, including making a sensational pad save to deny Oilers captain Connor McDavid earlier in OT. The Sharks expected pushback from the Oilers, who absorbed an embarrassing 7-0 loss in Game 4 at San Jose on Tuesday. “You’re left with the taste of the overtime, but the 60-minute game, we came out and weathered the storm, found a way to get the lead, and found a way to play with the lead right down until two minutes left,” he said. In spite of the Oilers’ 48-30 advantage in shots on goal, San Jose limited Edmonton’s ability to get to prime scoring spots during regulation as most of the Oilers’ efforts were from along the boards or the point. “Playoffs are about a guy making a big play, your best players being your best players, timely goals, staying healthy, all those things,” DeBoer said. Oilers lead series 3-2 Sharks 3, Oilers 2 (OT) Oilers 2, Sharks 0 Oilers 1, Sharks 0 Sharks 7, Oilers 0 Oilers 4, Sharks 3 (OT)

Have Sharks passed their sell-by date?

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 01:37:47 UT

In the first period of Thursday’s game, the Sharks’ age and experience looked like a bonus. Edmonton’s young guns were flying around the ice, fueled by the manic energy of their home crowd. [...] the Sharks calmly and methodically neutralized all that excitement and took a 2-1 lead in the first and eventually a 3-1 lead in the second period. [...] late in the game, young Edmonton had energy and freshness and the Sharks simply couldn’t match the Oilers. The entire overtime period, which ended with David Desharnais’ goal, looked like an 18-minute Oilers power play. Despite winning a couple of games, the Sharks could never quite find their footing in that series, against a younger, more talented team. [...] aside from Tuesday night’s ridiculous 7-0 victory at SAP Center, which really didn’t tell us much, the Sharks have looked off-balance in this series as well. [...] goalie Martin Jones was phenomenal in overtime, stopping the first 13 shots he faced. The NHL’s regular-season points leader doesn’t have an even-strength point in the series. [...] McDavid has been phenomenal, flying around the ice and making some crushing hits, like his open-ice connection with Marcus Sorensen. The negative for the Sharks is that the Oilers are finding ways to beat them without McDavid scoring. [...] the talented 20-year-old must look to Sharks fans like a ticking device on the ice, ready to explode with offense at any moment. Former Sharks and current Oilers coach Todd McLellan thinks his young team learned a big lesson in the past two games. There’s no momentum from one playoff hockey game to the next; the action and impetus is free-flowing.

Sharks can’t hold lead, fall to Oilers in overtime

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:41:24 UT

EDMONTON, Alberta — David Desharnais scored late in the first overtime to lift the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win over the Sharks on Thursday night, pushing San Jose to the brink of elimination in the NHL playoffs. Desharnais, in the slot, one-timed a Leon Draisaitl cross-ice pass past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones to cap an overtime session dominated by Edmonton. The Oilers lead the Western Conference quarterfinal series 3-2. The Oilers — looking for a bounce-back game after a 7-0 beat-down by the Sharks in Game 4 — dominated the first 10 minutes, energized by the deafening roar of the orange-and-blue-clad fans at Rogers Place. Edmonton took a 1-0 lead at 5:28 of the first period when Maroon, standing at the edge of the crease, corralled a rebound off Matt Benning’s shot and swept the puck past Jones. Taking advantage of a bad Oilers line change, Joe Thornton and Marleau broke in over the blue line on a two-on-one. Thornton’s wrist shot leaked through Oilers goalie Cam Talbot and dribbled to the goal line, where Marleau stuffed it in. A wrist shot by Schlemko from the blue line fluttered through a crowd in the crease and over Talbot’s right shoulder. The Oilers cut their deficit to 3-2 on the power play with less than two minutes left in the second period, with Brent Burns in the penalty box for delay of game. Draisaitl backhanded the puck through a clutch of bodies in the slot to Letestu for a one-timer under the crossbar. The Sharks smothered the Oilers attack for most of the third period until Klefbom blasted a shot from the blue line to tie the game with less than three minutes to go.

Predators complete 4-game sweep of Blackhawks

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:26:04 UT

Predators complete 4-game sweep of Blackhawks Roman Josi scored twice and Pekka Rinne had 30 saves as the host Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep of the Western Conference’s top seed. Colton Sissons also scored and Viktor Arvidsson added an empty-net goal as Nashville completed the franchise’s first playoff sweep. The Predators limited the Blackhawks to three goals in the series. Sidney Crosby and Scott Wilson scored 51 seconds apart in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves as host Pittsburgh prevailed to win its Eastern Conference series against Columbus in five games. Bryan Rust scored twice for the Penguins, who will face the winner of the Maple Leafs-Capitals series in the East semifinals starting next week. Mika Zibanejad scored at 14:22 of overtime to give visiting New York the victory and a 3-2 lead in the East series. The Sabres, who missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season after posting a 33-37-12 record, fired general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma. ... The NHL announced that Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski and Jets wing Patrik Laine are the top three in voting for the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year).