Was Gagne justified in snapping on Volchenkov?

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If you asked me to describe last night’s Ottawa-Philadelphia’s game, I would probably choose the word “brutal.” Simply put, the Senators survived the game by sheer toughness and a brilliant shutout by Brian Elliott.

It’s always an odd sight when a delicate star like Simon Gagne loses his cool. Sometimes it can be especially embarrassing, such as the case of Alex Semin last season. Gagne took a rough hit from Anton Volchenkov in the game and quickly went after the shot-blocking defenseman. (Here’s a link to the video) The play ended up in a Senators goal, but the Flyers are upset about the hit itself. Dirk Hoag from On the Forecheck provided some commentary on the situation earlier today and also gave a great frame-by-frame analysis of the hit. Here’s some of what Dirk wrote.

There is simply no way that Volchenkov had time to pull up once Gagne turned to face the boards. The game of hockey, particularly at the NHL level, is simply too fast-paced to expect that in milliseconds, a guy like Volchenkov should be able to ease up and avoid potential injury to Gagne. At the time he was coming in, he expected to nail Gagne from the side, which is completely legal. Notice in the background of those shots that a referee and linesman were looking directly at the play.

…To those who would say that any hit to the back should automatically be penalized no matter the circumstance, that opens the door to players with the puck deliberately turning to the boards in order to draw a penalty. It’s unworkable in practice.

Hockey is a dangerous, fast-paced game, and beyond skating, puck handling and shooting skills, we should marvel at players’ ability to generally avoid nasty collisions like this on a shift-by-shift basis. There are times, however, when the inevitable occurs, and someone takes a nasty tumble into the boards. Let’s just be thankful that in this case, Simon Gagne was able to get up in time to watch the puck go into his own net.

Great stuff by Dirk. Volchenkov was definitely a busy man last night. I’ll leave you with his other big hit of the night on Daniel Carcillo.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.