Thursday, May 25, 2017

Seventh Heaven for Kunitz, Penguins in Double OT

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup final for the second consecutive year.

Chris Kunitz sent a fluttering one-timer past screened Senators netminder Craig Anderson at 5:09 if the second overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators.

The Penguins did it the hard way against an extremely resilient Senators team that twice battled back from one-goal deficits to force the extra sessions. After Kunitz gave Pittsburgh the lead at 9:55 of the second, Mark Stone answered 20 seconds later with his fifth goal of the playoffs and first of the series. Justin Schultz put the Penguins up 2-1 with a power play marker in at 11:44 of the third but less than three minutes later it was Ryan Dzingel who corraled a loose puck after Erik Karlsson's shot from the point rung the iron to level the Sens at 2-all.

Karlsson, who led all skaters with 39:33 of ice time, had two assists and finished his playoff season with two goals, 18 points and a plus-13.

The overtime was frantic, and Phil Kessel had a few golden opportunities to win it in the first extra session, but on one opportunity he missed the net from a point-blank shooting position and on the other he had a deflected rebound glance off his glove and just over the net.

Pittsburgh outshot the Senators 42 to 29, and 9 to 4 from the beginning of overtime.

Sidney Crosby, who finished the game with one shot on goal in 26:49, made the key play on Kunitz overtime winner. He corraled a puck below the Senators goal line before spinning away from Chris Wideman and setting up Kunitz with a tape-to-tape pass. Kunitz didn't get a clean shot off, but his fluttering one-timer had eyes and sailed right over the right shoulder of Anderson.

"Anderson was unbelievable," Crosby said after the game. "He was unbelievable the last few games, but especially tonight."

Ottawa dropped to 0-6 as a franchise in Game 7s with the loss. The Penguins improved to 10-7 in Game 7s and 4-7 at home.

The Penguins will be home at PPG Paints Arena on Monday night when they host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Final.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Toronto Grants Avalanche Permission to Speak to Kyle Dubas

The Toronto Maple Leafs gave the Colorado Avalanche permission to speak to Leafs' Assistant General Manager Kyle Dubas, says Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. But nobody is quite sure of the specifics. Joe Sakic is still the Avalanche's GM, and Dubas is thought by many to be next in line for the General Manager job in Toronto when Lou Lamoriello steps down. The 31-year-old is also currently the General Manager of the Toronto Marlies.

Dubas' name came up in rumors last year, when his services were reportedly being sought by the Coyotes, and some thought he might be in the running for the Sabres General Manager job, which was recently awarded to former Penguins Assistant GM Jason Botteril.

Could this be a plan hatched by the Leafs to have Dubas go to Colorado, trade them Nathan MacKinnon for a bag of pucks, then return to Toronto in a few year's time?

Watch: Crosby Gets a Friendly Spear and a Squirt

After six games of intense playoff hockey, it's pretty clear that the Senators and Penguins are going to save the mutual respect for the post-Game 7 handshake. Here Marc Methot, who nearly had his finger whacked off by Sidney Crosby earlier in the season, pays his respects to Sid the kid with a few lovetap spears, while Mike Hoffman goes for the old squirt-water-up-the-glove trick from the bench.

Totally juvenile. Slightly annoying and disrespectful, but overall far lass egregious than an illegal check to the head.

And onward to Game 7 we go.

Sharks Sign Simek, Sanderson

The San Jose Sharks have turned to Europe to make a few depth signings.

The Club announced that Czech defenseman Radim Simek has signed a one-year deal, while Swedish forward Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal.

Simek, 24, recorded 11 goals and 13 assists in 42 games during the 2016-17 season with Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech League. He recorded two points in eight points for the Czech Republic at this year's IIHF World Championships.

Sandberg, 22, recorded 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists) and a plus-17 rating in 52 games with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League in 2016-17.

Here are the terms, per Kevin Kurz, Sharks insider:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brutal Hit on Viktor Arvidsson Gets Nick Ritchie Tossed from Game 6

Things went from bad to very bad in the first period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Final for the Anaheim Ducks. Already down 2-0 after goals by Austin Watson and Colton Sissons, Nick Ritchie took a five-minute major and was given a game misconduct for this nasty hit on Viktor Arvidsson.

The Predators did not score in the ensuing power play.

Jonathan Bernier, making his first career playoff start in relief of injured John Gibson, has stopped just two of four shots. Pekka Rinne was perfect in the first, stopping all 12 shots he faced. The Finn has been incredible at home in these playoffs.

In other news, Arvidsson was bloodied after the hit, in the shape of an "R." Not really sure why it's news, but it seems to be.

So there you have it.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sweden Wins Worlds and Lundqvist Gets Mauled in Dangerous Celebration

Sweden defeated Canada to win the IIHF World Hockey Championships on Sunday, and Henrik Lundqvist nearly died.

Check out the celebration tackle by William Nylander after the victory was clinched in a shootout by the King.

Here's the save and the tackle:

And here's another angle, which is a lot scarier. William Nylander, you young whippersnapper, take it easy on the King.

In the first Gold Medal game that went to a shootout since 1994, Lundqvist stopped all four shots he faced while Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored for Sweden. It was Sweden's first victory over Canada in an IIHF World Championship final in four tries.

Both goalies--Lundqvist and Cal Pickard--were named Best Player of the game for their respective teams.

Nylander was named tournament MVP. He was not penalized for nearly killing his goalie. All's well that ends well.

Watch: Wingles Throws Elbow to Head of Scott Wilson

So, what should you do when your team trails by a touchdown late in the third period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final?

How about try to take Scott Wilson's head off?

That's what Ottawa's Tommy Wingels went with--and he nearly succeeded.

Will the NHL's Department of Player Safety make its presence felt? Stay tuned...

Karlsson Says He'll Be Fine for Game 6

A scary moment occurred for the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 when all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson twisted his ankle after a skate-to-skate collision with Pittsburgh's Scott Wilson in the second period. The Swede would leave the ice and not return for the remainder of the game, and no, it wasn't because he wanted to watch his fellow Swedes with the IIHF World Hockey Championship over Canada in Cologne, Germany.

Karlsson, who has been playing the postseason with two hairlines fractures in his left foot, told media he'd be fine for Game 6.

He'll need to be. The Senators aren't the same team without Karlsson, and they have zero momentum after suffering a humiliating 7-0 defeat to the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

Only one of those goals came with Karlsson on the ice.

Pittsburgh went 3-for-3 on the power play and outshot the Senators 36-25.

Game 6 is Tuesday night in Ottawa.