Riding the Zamboni – Wednesday November 17th (early edition)

Let’s take a look at nine of today’s 12 games, shall we?

Pittsburgh 3, Vancouver 1

Sidney Crosby scored his 13th goal, the Penguins’ sellout streak hit the three-million person mark and Pittsburgh might just have something going all of a sudden.

Washington 4, Buffalo 2

Well, the Sabres’ run of overtime games had to end sometime, right? Most people wouldn’t have been surprised if they found out that one of the league’s hottest goalies played in this game, but few would have expected that we’d be talking about Michal Neuvirth, not Ryan Miller.

Boston 3, NY Rangers 2

Tim Thomas helped the Bruins earn the win in this one, stopping 34 out of 36 shots while his team managed to score three goals on Henrik Lundqvist despite only sending 20 shots his way.

Tampa Bay 4, NY Islanders 2

The Islanders put together a valiant effort, but their record without fired coach Scott Gordon is 0-1 after losing to the Lightning tonight. Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists while Steve Stamkos scored yet another goal and added an assist as well. The Islanders have now gone 11 games without a win.

Carolina 7, Ottawa 1

Eric Staal scored three goals and two assists … so naturally he wasn’t in my fantasy hockey lineup tonight. (D’oh!) It seems like the Hurricanes are trading blowouts; one night they get dismantled, the next night they dominate. The Senators might be in the cold phase of their typical hit-or-miss cycle.

Florida 2, Atlanta 1

It’s about time that Tomas Vokoun dominated a game again. The soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent stopped 38 out of 39 shots to help the Panthers beat their division mates from Atlanta.

Detroit 7, St. Louis 3

This game will be remembered for two things: Jaroslav Halak deflecting the puck into his own net and the Red Wings crushing the Blues in the third period, making a 3-3 game end 7-3.

Minnesota 2, Anaheim 1 (OT)

The Ducks aren’t flopping spectacularly on the road anymore. Now they’re just losing hard fought games away from home, as they lost another 2-1 game tonight. At least they earned a point out of it, but red-hot goalie Niklas Backstrom and forward Antti Miettinen made sure the Wild won this one.

Colorado 4, San Jose 3 (OT)

Colorado still gives San Jose some trouble, it seems. The Avalanche won this one thanks to a pretty overtime game-winner by Kevin Porter, as both the Avs and Wild gained some ground on the Northwest Division-leading Canucks tonight. San Jose squandered a 3-1 lead to lose, but like Anaheim, they can at least bring home a charity point for their efforts.

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.