Nashville Predators v Detroit Red Wings

Around the rink – Friday, December 10th

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It’s a Friday night and there’s an Original Six match-up on the schedule. Life is good, isn’t it? All right so if that doesn’t do it for you perhaps there’s something else on the menu to get you fired up. As for us, we’ll be keeping an eye on Detroit to see how the Wings handle the Canadiens. As always, all times listed are Eastern.

7:00 pm

Montreal @ Detroit

Montreal rolls into Detroit on a three-game win streak. Coincidentally, Detroit is reeling on a three-game losing streak of their own. Coincidences are fun like that. Detroit’s looked out of sorts during their slide and the Habs have been playing great. Doesn’t seem to bode well for the Wings does it? We smell a potential trap game for the Habs.

More coincidences here: The Habs are 3-0 since sitting P.K. Subban in the press box as a healthy scratch in favor of Yannick Weber. Meanwhile, the Wings are 0-3 since Chris Osgood has returned from injury. Of course, Osgood is responsible for just one of those losses.

7:30 pm

New Jersey @ Ottawa

Nothing says excitement like two teams that are playing miserable hockey coming together to see who stinks less. For the Devils, they’ll get Martin Brodeur back in goal to start and that’s the best bit of good news they’ve had in a while. As Ilya Kovalchuk is busy taking the heat for the Devils losing ways, the Senators poor defense and equally suspect offense is dooming them. After losing to the Rangers last night, the Sens have lost five of their last six games. They have to hope that Mike Fisher snapped out of his season-long funk after scoring two goals last night.

Colorado @ Atlanta

There’s only going to be one Stewart brother on the ice for this one as Atlanta’s Anthony will play while Colorado’s Chris is still out with a broken hand. Atlanta has won eight of their last nine games while the Avs are losers of four in a row. Colorado’s east coast swing through the Southeast Division has not gone well dropping all three games they’ve had. The Avs dropped a game to Atlanta in overtime back on November 30th in Denver. Ondrej Pavelec has been the man for Atlanta and he’ll get the chance to show that off again tonight.

8:30 pm

Carolina @ Dallas

We have to assume that Stars coach Marc Crawford is still steaming over the lack of call in their favor against Chicago and by that measure, so are the Stars themselves. With Carolina rolling into town playing their first game since Saturday, they’ll be well rested. For Dallas, they’ll be looking to snap their two game slide. Whether or not Kari Lehtonen is healthy to play is up for debate. Luckily for Dallas, Andrew Raycroft has been outstanding in relief. The Stars will need him to be solid if Lehtonen is again having nagging issues.

9:30 pm

Tampa Bay @ Edmonton

Can the Lightning get any goaltending at all? The Lightning have allowed the most goals in the NHL and lately, both Mike Smith and Dan Ellis have been so bad that teams are snapping out of their offensive slumps against them. Since November 24th, the Lightning are giving up an average of nearly 4.6 goals per game. Even in the 1980s that would leave you hard pressed to win games.

As for the Oilers, they’ve been hot of late winning four of their last five games and dropping their last game to Anaheim in a shootout. You have to think that unless either Smith or Ellis show up for Tampa Bay the young Oilers are going to be able to do some more damage. Youngster and shootout superstar Linus Omark will make his NHL debut. We’re not rooting for a shootout in this game, but if it happens and Omark gets to do his thing, we won’t be too upset about it.

10:00 pm

Calgary @ Anaheim

It’s possible that Calgary could be without one of their leading goal scorers in Rene Bourque after Bourque speared Kings defenseman Drew Doughty late in last night’s 2-1 loss to L.A. Calgary’s been on a spell of alternating between wins and losses so that bodes well for them. Playing the Ducks in Anaheim, however, doesn’t sound so fun. The Ducks are coming off a shootout loss to Vancouver and appear to be back in a streak of scoring goals. If the Ducks can keep the Flames from scoring too many on them they might be able to survive. Expect this one to be a feisty affair regardless.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final with a score of 5 to 2 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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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period 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 Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.