Around The Rink – October 9th

The last two days of the NHL season felt like an appetizer for what’s to come today. The NHL is still in Europe with two more games getting the afternoon delight treatment. Meanwhile, the rest of the league comes to the table to check things out.

Oddly enough, a handful of teams are playing the second day of back-to-back games already. Slow down guys, the season goes until April. Anyhow, here’s today’s schedule with all times set to Eastern because we’re fancy that way.

12:00 pm

Phoenix @ Boston (Prague, Czech Republic)

It’s the first game for both teams as the NHL takes over the Czech Republic. Boston might be the home team today, but expect the Coyotes to get a lot of love with Czechs Petr Prucha, Martin Hanzal, and Radim Vrbata. David Krejci of Boston is sure to have a lot of fans himself.

3:00 pm

Columbus @ San Jose (Stockholm, Sweden)

Columbus will look to bounce back after dropping a tough one yesterday. They’ll also look to be a bit better on their special teams after giving up two power play goals.

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Buffalo

The new look Rangers look to get off to a big start in Buffalo while the Sabres look to build off an oddly-inspiring victory over Ottawa last night. I say that because they just never beat Ottawa.

Ottawa @ Toronto

The Leafs already took care of one rival team on Thursday beating Montreal. Can they go two-for-two to start the year?

Dallas @ NY Islanders

No Streit, no Okposo, no Schremp, but Rick DiPietro will get the start in goal. Odd, isn’t it? Dallas looks to go 2-0 on their season-starting east coast swing.

Montreal @ Pittsburgh

Don’t suppose the Pens faithful will have anything left over to yell at the Habs do you? The Pens look to break in their new arena with a win while the Habs look to bounce back after a lack-luster effort on Thursday against Toronto.

New Jersey @ Washington

The Caps have their home opener and both teams come into this one off of tough losses last night. Alex Ovechkin was kept off the score sheet against Atlanta, meanwhile his Russian friend Ilya Kovalchuk debuted with two assists. Expect big games from both of them.

7:30 pm

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay

Atlanta looks to get off to a hot start after beating Washington last night but will have to go through the rebuilt and well-hyped Lightning.

8:00 pm

Philadelphia @ St. Louis

St. Louis will be showing off their statue of Brett Hull before the game. No word on whether or not Chris Pronger will try to deliver a body check to it in reverence for his past efforts in St. Louis.

Anaheim @ Nashville

No Sergei Kostitsyn for Nashville, meanwhile no Andy Sutton for Anaheim. If the Preds were hoping to impress the hometown fans with an offensive explosion, they’ve got the right team to open up against. Jonas Hiller could be a very busy guy all year for the Ducks.

8:30 pm

Detroit @ Chicago

The Blackhawks’ home opener means lots of pomp and circumstance for the home team as well as the raising of the team’s Stanley Cup championship banner. Don’t think that it was a coincidence that their hated rivals from Detroit just happened to be scheduled for this game. Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will likely miss the game with back spasms.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Vancouver

More pageantry in Vancouver, this time of a self-congratulatory kind with the Canucks celebrating their 40th anniversary this season. Both teams will be in throwback jerseys, with the Kings wearing these purple beauties from a bygone era.

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    Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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    Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

    What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

    Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

    “He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

    “I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

    Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

    After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

    “We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

    “It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

    “It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

    We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

    Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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    The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Again.

    Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

    Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

    Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

    After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

    That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

    For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

    Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

    Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

    ‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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    The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

    The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

    The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

    They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

    “I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

    On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

    That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

    With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

    “We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

    Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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    Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

    The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

    The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

    Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.