Could Guerin's return help the Penguins solve Halak?

guerin.jpgAfter struggling mightily in Game 1, Jaroslav Halak is back to his world-beating self. In helping the Canadiens to a 2-2 series tie, the Slovakian goalie made 94 out of 98 saves in the last three games. While the Penguins are claiming that their approach won’t change, it’s difficult to imagine that the goalie’s strong play hasn’t gotten to them at this point.

Here’s more from The Globe and Mail’s Dave Shoalts.

However, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma spent a lot of time Friday talking about his team’s need to beat Halak – who has stopped 94 of 98 shots in the last three games – by creating “second-chance opportunities” (scoring chances that come by hanging around the net and whacking at rebounds and loose pucks).

Aside from the troubling total of one goal from the Penguins’ dynamic duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the last five games, the big problem has been letting the Canadiens defence keep them to the outside. Bylsma admitted the absence of veteran winger Bill Guerin to a suspected case of back spasms in the last two games hurt his team’s “net-front presence” and allowed the Canadiens to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2.

It isn’t all bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins, though. TSN’s Brent Wallace reports that Bill Guerin should be in the lineup while Alex Ponikarovsky is expected to sit out tonight. Guerin won’t solve all the team’s problems. He won’t keep Marc-Andre Fleury from allowing the occasional soft goal. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still need to cash in on their opportunities. Still, Guerin has the right combination of size and hands to get right in Halak’s face and create havoc.

If nothing else, getting back to Mellon Arena could really help Pittsburgh break a slump or two. A Game 5 can often be pivotal in a seven-game series. We’ll see if Guerin can be a difference maker in tonight’s match.

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    Vatrano presence: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime

    Frank Vatrano David Krejci
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    The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.

    In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).

    Here’s his first goal of the night:

    While this is his overtime game-winner:

    It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.

    The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.

    October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.

    November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.

    Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.

    More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.

    Crosby roars, Malkin scores in OT for Penguins win

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    Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.

    Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:

    … While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.

    (You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)

    Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.

    You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.

    Fight video: Claude Giroux vs. Nick Leddy

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    Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.

    Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.

    You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.

    It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.

    Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.

    Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.

    Carter Hutton gets flipped, stays in game

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    Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.

    Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:

    Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.

    If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.

    Check out this incredible shot of that moment:

    Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.