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)

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

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Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

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The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.