Nightly recap – Monday, October 18

Tonight was a night in which individual hot streaks continued while team-based winning streaks hit a few walls. Let’s take a look at the five contests.

Pittsburgh 5, Ottawa 2

It’s hard to ignore Brent Johnson’s hot start to at this point, as he improved his record to 4-0 on the season. Of course, the Penguins made life easier for him by giving him a nice cushion, taking a 3-0 first period lead and finishing the second up 5-1. While it’s not shocking to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin light up the scoreboard, the hottest Pen might just be relatively unknown youngster Mark Letestu, whose one goal, one assist game added to his impressive 2010-11 season totals of four goals and seven points in this young season. If Letestu can even end up being a 20-goal scorer for Pittsburgh, they’ll have the kind of supplemental scoring the winger-weak team needs so badly.

Colorado 3, NY Rangers 1

The Rangers are ailing without key forwards Chris Drury, Vaclav Prospal and (wait for it) Marian Gaborik, but they were playing against an Avalanche team that was wrapping up a challenging road trip. Chris Stewart is one of the hottest scorers in the league right now; he leads Colorado with five goals after scoring two on the powerplay tonight, continuing his three-game goal scoring streak. Craig Anderson out-dueled Henrik Lundqvist in this one as both netminders compiled 31 saves but Anderson only allowed one.

Could it be a long season for the Rangers?

NY Islanders 2, Toronto 1 (OT)

Read all about the Leafs’ first loss of the season here.

Tampa Bay 5, Dallas 4

Discussion of the Stars’ discouraging first loss of 10-11 can be found in this post.

Chicago 3, St. Louis 2 (OT)

This one is going to burn the Blues for a while, yet it shows that you cannot ever count the Blackhawks out of a game. Not when they have skilled players on hot streaks such as Marian Hossa (the NHL leader in goals after scoring his sixth and seventh of the year to get Chicago to OT) and Patrick Sharp (whose tap-in goal in OT gives him three consecutive game-winning goals).

Both goalies were pretty strong, with Marty Turco getting the better of Jaroslav Halak. David Perron scored the game’s two goals and had a few other promising opportunities in this one, too. We’ll see if the Blues regret giving up this 2-0 third period lead later on this season, or if it’s a good lesson for a young team.

Shock of Lightning: Stamkos will play

Steven Stamkos
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He’s in.

As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.

Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.

More:

Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.

That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.

Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.

It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.

To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.

 

Drama builds as Stamkos takes Game 7 warmup

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.

In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.

And then Stamkos took the warmup.

As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.

“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”

No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.

Stay tuned…

Parise rehabbing back injury without surgery, ‘no question’ he’ll play in World Cup

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 17:  Zach Parise #11 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 17, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Wild 7-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.

Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.

Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Penguins, Game 7

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Alex Killorn #17 of the Tampa Bay Lightning falls to the ice at the net against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Not much more to say than this:

GAME 7.

Puck drop is at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, but you can also catch the game online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

It’s been a ‘roller coaster’ — Pens, Bolts ready for Game 7

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

Video: Johnson pays the price for Tampa Bay