Vancouver Canucks edge Florida Panthers 2-1

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Vancouver 2, Florida 1

You have to wonder if there was at least a small part of Roberto Luongo that felt bad for opposing goalie Tomas Vokoun.

After all, just a few years ago, Luongo was the ace Florida Panthers goalie who saw more rubber than a busy highway game after game and stopped most of those shots, only the team in front of him wasn’t strong enough to do much with his efforts anyway. Eventually Luongo was traded from the Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks in a laughable swap that included Todd Bertuzzi and Alex Auld and now must worry about being blamed for losses instead of being the one bright spot in a grim situation.

Whether there was empathy or not, Luongo and the Canucks left tonight’s game with a narrow win. He stopped 41 out of 42 shots as it seems like he’s responding well to the reduced pressure of losing the captaincy (not to mention the Canucks’ hiring a new goalie coach in Roland Melanson) while Vokoun stopped 33 out of 35.

Daniel Sedin scored both of Vancouver’s goals, each one assisted by his brother Henrik and fellow Swede Mikael Samuelsson. Rostislav Olesz scored the Panthers’ lone goal with assists from Mike Santorelli and Cory Stillman. The Canucks managed to win without getting a single power play while the Panthers went 0-for-3.

It’s obviously early, but the Canucks are playing well – particularly Luongo – as they begin with a 1-0-1 mark. Florida must wonder if they’re off to another slow start as the team begins the season 0-2. Again, judging too much of the events at this point is hasty, but I still wonder if Vokoun will follow in Luongo’s footsteps and end up getting traded to a contender before the season is over.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.