Henrik Sedin takes down Crosby and Ovechkin to win Hart Trophy

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henriksedin4.jpgThe biggest award of the night, the Hart Trophy, was perhaps the most hotly debated of them all. And why not, it goes to the league’s most valuable player and all three nominees had exemplary seasons. The question remaining tonight would be who out of Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin and Sidney Crosby would be the one to take home the hardware. All three players have stronger than strong cases to win the award, but it would be Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin that came away with the Hart Trophy and the voters indicated that it was really a two-horse race.

                        Pts.        (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
        1.        Henrik Sedin, VAN        894        (46-34-27-19-4)
        2.        Alex Ovechkin, WSH        834        (40-35-22-22-13)
        3.        Sidney Crosby, PIT        729        (20-35-38-29-7)
        4.        Ryan Miller, BUF        505        (13-22-24-27-20)
        5.        Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX        354        (13-6-17-22-31)
        6.        Steven Stamkos, T.B.        28        (0-0-2-3-9)
        7.        Patrick Kane, CHI        17        (0-1-0-2-4)
        8.        Martin Brodeur, N.J.        16        (0-0-2-0-6)
        9.        Craig Anderson, COL        10        (1-0-0-0-0)
        10.        Patrick Marleau, S.J.        10        (0-0-0-3-1)
        11.        Nicklas Backstrom, WSH        10        (0-0-0-2-4)
        12.        Joe Thornton, S.J.        9        (0-0-0-1-6)
        13.        Zach Parise, N.J.        7        (0-0-1-0-2)
        14.        Mike Green, WSH        5        (0-0-0-1-2)
        15.        Zdeno Chara, BOS        3        (0-0-0-1-0)
        16.        Duncan Keith, CHI        3        (0-0-0-0-3)
        17.        Drew Doughty, L.A.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Marian Gaborik, NYR        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Anze Kopitar, L.A.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Nicklas Lidstrom, DET        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Tuukka Rask, BOS        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Martin St. Louis, T.B.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
        23.        Henrik Lundqvist, NYR        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Evgeni Nabokov, S.J.        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Chris Pronger, PHI        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Paul Stastny, COL        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Tomas Vokoun, FLA        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Shea Weber, NSH        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Henrik Zetterberg, DET        1        (0-0-0-0-1)

It would be Ovechkin who posed the strongest challenge to Sedin for the award and Sedin had just six more first place votes than Ovechkin. While the first place votes were split amongst the top five finishers for the award, the other two being Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov it was Colorado’s Craig Anderson who managed to get a single vote in the top spot to make for a curious outlier.

As for the real race, the six vote difference between Sedin and Ovechkin was indeed the reason for the 60 point separation between the two as first place votes count for ten points.  There’s no denying how great a season Sedin had being the Art Ross Trophy winner for being the league’s leading scorer and in leading the Canucks to a Northwest Division title. You could basically toss a three-sided die and make out all right with having any of the finalists as the MVP but after all the attention both Crosby and Ovechkin earn, it’s Sedin that walks away with the big prize. So much for that whole “east coast bias” thing.

(photo credit to Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Wild just wouldn’t stay down, edge Kings in OT

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Don’t blame Ben Bishop if, deep down, he was glad that he didn’t make his Los Angeles Kings debut on Monday.

After seeing the kind of speed, drive and all-around electric play displayed by the Minnesota Wild, you can understand a goalie shuddering at the often wide-open action. Despite falling behind four times against the Kings, the Wild ultimately edged Los Angeles 5-4 in an overtime thriller.

Mikael Granlund‘s 20th goal of the season ended it in OT, and quickly. And it was beautiful:

…. Unless you’re Jonathan Quick and the Kings, that is.

Granlund is absolutely on fire right now.

Ryan White made a great first impression for the Wild, scoring a goal and an assist (while displaying great flow). Martin Hanzal wasn’t able to score, though he did make his presence felt with five hits. And, again, Bishop might have secretly been relieved to put his Kings debut on hold.

Marian Gaborik turned back the clock a bit to his Wild prime, scoring a goal and an assist. He generally made quite a bit happen for Los Angeles.

It was a tough one for Anze Kopitar, meanwhile, who was unable to generate offense and suffered a -3. He wasn’t able to stop Granlund in OT, though who could?

The Wild still must worry as mumps sidelined at least Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, but for now, they’re battling on. Just ask the Kings how resilient this group really is.

Sell this: Kucherov, Lightning put trades behind them, blast Senators

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The Tampa Bay Lightning might be in sell mode, but that doesn’t mean their players are quitting on this season.

After shipping Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle out of town, they could have rolled over against a hungry Ottawa Senators team. Instead, they blew them out, winning 5-1 on Monday.

Nikita Kucherov was the biggest standout, collecting a natural hat trick, which you can watch above. (He also generated an assist.)

Jonathan Drouin had a big night in his own right, assisting on all three of Kucherov’s goals. Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson generated two assists apiece, as well.

And, yes, Andrei Vasilevskiy inspired at least a few “Ben who?” jokes by making 39 out of 40 saves, including this beauty:

As you can see, Ottawa actually had a 1-0 lead at that point, so it could have been a different game if the agile goalie did do the splits there.

The Lightning are still five points out of the final wild card spot, trailing Boyle’s new team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators, meanwhile, find themselves slipping a bit out of the race to win the Atlantic Division, especially considering Montreal’s comeback win against New Jersey.

Tampa Bay may may not be done making moves and recognizing painful truth that the odds are against them rallying to a playoff spot. That said, nights like these make you wonder if a run is at least possible.

Canadiens’ big guns trigger comeback OT win against Devils

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 27:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates the game winning power play goal by Alex Galchenyuk #27 at 2:54 of overtrime against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 27, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  The Canadiens defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were looking a little grim there for the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

The New Jersey Devils had, at one point, a 2-0 lead. At least in some corners there were murmurs about a bad start for Claude Julien. Then their big guns swung the game.

The comeback started with Alex Radulov, though the drama was just beginning:

Travis Zajac made it 3-1 for the Devils on the power play, only for Radulov to assist on two Max Pacioretty goals to send the game to overtime.

From there, Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime-winner for Montreal on the man advantage. Radulov got yet another secondary assist – he ended up with four points tonight – while Shea Weber nabbed the primary helpers on the last two tallies.

Long story short, the Canadiens biggest names came through, allowing Julien to maybe utther a sigh of relief.

 

Trade: Capitals go all in for Kevin Shattenkirk; Blues receive picks

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If there was any doubt about the Washington Capitals going “all-in” to win a Stanley Cup, they erased it on Monday. They sent a pick-heavy package to the St. Louis Blues to land defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Yes, that’s right; the top team in the NHL standings landed the biggest trade deadline target. They also edged other contenders hoping to land Shattenkirk, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.

Here’s the official announcement, which clears up some of the finer details:

The conditional second-rounder might come in 2019, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford. The full conditions are … complex, so check out this thread from the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan for the highly specific factors that could net more picks for the Blues.

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To recap, the players involved go as follows: Brad Malone and Zach Sanford to St. Louis; goalie Pheonix Copley to Washington.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Blues retained 39 percent of Shattenkirk’s salary in the deal.

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Sanford, 22, was a second-round pick (61st overall) by the Caps in 2013. He has three points in 26 NHL games this season and also played 25 games (compiling 16 points) in the AHL.

Malone, 27, is a gritty player (30 points and 188 PIM in 176 games played) while Copley, 25, generated a nice .920 save percentage in 25 AHL games this season. He also struggled in his lone NHL appearance for St. Louis in 2016-17.

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Almost exactly one year ago, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said that he believed the team has a two-year window to win a Cup, or at least as their best opportunity to win it all. He’s backing up those words with this bold move.

(And maybe he was playing coy by stating that he was only looking to improve his team “on the fringes.”)