Antti Niemi holds strong in first, Chicago up 2-0

If things keep going this way, Cinco de Mayo might become a holiday for Finnish goalies too. Tuukka Rask provided outstanding goaltending in the Bruins’ win against the Flyers while fellow countrymen Antti Niemi came up big for Chicago in the first period.

The Blackhawks hold a 2-0 lead largely because their goalie is outplaying Vancouver’s. Niemi’s 16 saves had a high degree of difficulty, particularly one he made when Daniel Sedin found himself alone in front of the Chicago net. Roberto Luongo, on the other hand, is clearly struggling so far. Both of the goals he allowed came because he’s having trouble controlling rebounds, with Dustin Byfuglien’s powerplay goal being an especially bad case.

The Canucks actually controlled much of the play in the period but still haven’t punctured Niemi. It might take a little while for things to pick up for Vancouver, though, as they will need to serve yet another Too Many Men on the Ice penalty to start the second period. There is one bit of good “news” though; apparently the Canucks are 3-0 so far in the playoffs when giving up the game’s first goal.

One other noteworthy moment came when Daniel Sedin and Dave Bolland got into a little skirmish during a Canucks powerplay. The two low-key forwards exchanged some fisticuffs and trash talk, with Sedin being agitated enough to keep flapping his jaws while in the penalty box. Something tells me the Blackhawks will take that Bolland-for-Sedin trade-off every single time, though.

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    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.

     

    Video: Sidney Crosby extends scoring streak to career best seven games

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    What is wrong with Sidney Crosby?

    His slow start to the season has been well documented. But, um, he’s been on one heck of a roll offensively for some time and the points continue to pile up.

    Crosby extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games on Monday, as he gave Pittsburgh a 4-1 lead over the Anaheim Ducks in the second period.

    That was goal No. 23 on the season for Crosby. He added No. 24 later in the game on a spectacular individual effort.

    Oh, and here’s his second goal of the night. Not bad.

    Turris: Public trade requests can be ‘very difficult’ to go through, as Drouin saga drags on

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    When it comes to the pressures of trade requests that go public, Kyle Turris can relate to what Jonathan Drouin might be going through.

    Of course, Drouin’s request to be dealt from Tampa Bay made its way into the public via his agent, Allan Walsh, earlier this season.

    The talented 20-year-old forward and third overall pick in 2013 has since been suspended indefinitely without pay for failing to show up to an AHL game while down in the minors and hasn’t played since Jan. 18.

    It’s been a while now, but Turris found himself in a similar situation when, in October of 2011, his agent Curt Overhardt confirmed that the now 26-year-old center wanted to be traded out of Arizona.

    Back then, Turris, another third overall pick, was a restricted free agent and had been in contentious contract talks with the Coyotes. He eventually signed a two-year deal with the Coyotes and was acquired by Ottawa not long after.

    He’s been there ever since, with two 20-plus goal seasons.

    “It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.

    “It was very difficult to do. You’re getting a lot of heat from the media and people, and people within the organization. It was a tough, tough go.”

    Speaking of heat from the media: In addition to the suspension, Drouin was ripped in a local newspaper column — He’s the kid who quit” was one particular line that stands outfor his request and the drama that ensued from that.

    For now, the trade deadline (Feb. 29) approaches and Drouin’s request has yet to be granted.

    The wait continues.