Evander Kane comes to Boston as a coincidental conquering hero

Getting payback in the NHL for being wronged can happen in so many ways. For Boston fans that felt they were wronged by Penguins irritating forward Matt Cooke after his brutal blow to the head of Bruins star Marc Savard, their wont to have Cooke see justice was never truly fulfilled for them and the Bruins were left to stew and be angry about the situation.

Cooke wasn’t suspended for the hit on Savard and when the Penguins and Bruins met later that season, the Bruins not only didn’t get revenge on ice for the hit but they were also humiliated losing the game. This is where Atlanta’s Evander Kane became an accidental cult hero in Boston.

Kane’s one-punch knockout of Cooke in a fight in the final game of the season for the Thrashers became an instant hit in Boston with not just the fans but also with Bruins players. NESN’s Douglas Flynn hears Kane’s side of the story.

“I know when it happened, I got a couple phone calls from the guys,” said Kane after Thursday’s morning skate. “I know it got a lot of buzz throughout the league. It just so happened to be Matt Cooke, who did that to Marc Savard earlier on in the year. I wasn’t really looking for payback for that. It was more for myself and for my team, but I guess it worked out.”

Kane’s KO of Cooke was especially gratifying for Savard’s longtime linemate Milan Lucic.

“I know Milan Lucic pretty well, I played in junior with him [with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League in 2006-07],” said Kane. “So he sent me a text, told me what was going on in Boston. It was a fun time. Like I said, that definitely wasn’t in my mind at all, but I know it got a lot of attention and was a pretty big story.”

Boston fans rallied around video Kane’s KO like they do the replays of the Carlton Fisk home run and Bobby Orr’s magical goal against the Blues. If Kane isn’t given the warmest greeting a visiting player has ever seen in the Garden tonight we’ll be stunned. Anyone booing Kane should probably get the same kind of treatment “Waffle Man” has in Toronto.

Still, it’s weird to have a situation like this and to have it all happen purely out of coincidence. Kane was trying to fire up his team and just so happened to have karma as his corner man going into that scrap. It’s either that or just being named after the former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield really carries a lot of gravitas going into a fight.

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.