Cory Schneider

Riding the Zamboni – New Year’s Eve hangover edition

Vancouver 4 – Dallas 1

A battle between West powers involving the Stars once again turns against Dallas one more time. This time around it was penalties that did in the Stars as the Canucks scored three power play goals and chased Kari Lehtonen from the game in the second period. Kevin Bieksa and the Sedin twins each had a goal and an assist. Cory Schneider was outstanding for Vancouver stopping 44 shots.

NY Islanders 4 – Detroit 3 (F/OT)

Funny what a little confidence will do. The Isles have won five of their last six games and have beaten Pittsburgh and Detroit consecutively. P.A. Parenteau’s overtime goal lifted the Isles to the surprising victory. John Tavares lead the way for New York with a goal and two assists while Dwayne Roloson stopped 38 shots to help secure the win. Red Wings rookie Tomas Tatar scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game while Johan Franzen scored his 17th goal. Jimmy Howard was less-than stellar stopping just 19 shots.

New Jersey 3 – Atlanta 1

Johan Hedberg stopped 28 shots in leading the Devils past his former team and helping get the Devils out of a six game slide. Ilya Kovalchuk, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Mark Fayne all had goals for New Jersey. Meanwhile, Dustin Byfuglien scored his 15th goal of the year for Atlanta as he continues his huge season.

Montreal 3 – Florida 2 (F/OT)

What’s a good way to become an instant legend in Montreal? Score two goals including the game-winner in overtime. James Wisniewski did just that for the Habs in getting Montreal past the Panthers. Wisniewski was acquired from the Islanders in a recent trade and his offensive skills are already paying dividends. Wisniewski also assisted on Brian Gionta’s goal in the second period. Alex Auld stopped 20 shots in getting a rare start. Tomas Vokoun was the hard luck loser saving 45 shots.

Anaheim 5 – Philadelphia 2

Think the Flyers are missing Chris Pronger? They certainly are on this road trip as the Flyers get dropped by the Ducks. Lubomir Visnovsky and Jason Blake each scored twice and helped make sure that Ryan Getzlaf’s absence wouldn’t be felt. The lack of defense hung Sergei Bobrovsky out to dry as he made just 22 saves in the loss. In their last four games (three of which were losses) the Flyers have given up a total of 20 goals. That’s not getting it done and the Flyers need to find answers as Pittsburgh has pulled ahead of them in the Atlantic Division and the Rangers are nipping at their heels.

Nashville 4 – Minnesota 1

Leave it to the Wild to play slump busters. Nashville broke their five game losing streak taking out Minnesota thanks to 22 saves by Pekka Rinne and goals from four different players, two of which were empty netters. All right, so sometimes box scores can be misleading. Still, a punchless effort from Minnesota is becoming a bit too regular for their liking.

Columbus 4 – Ottawa 3 (F/OT)

The Jackets are on a three-game win streak thanks to Jakub Voracek. Voracek’s overtime goal vaulted Columbus over Ottawa. Steve Mason was rock solid stopping 35 shots.

St. Louis 4 – Phoenix 3

Alex Steen had a goal and an assist as the Blues held on to beat Phoenix. The Blues had a 4-0 with 17 minutes left in the game after Steen’s unassisted goal but the Coyotes stormed back to get within a goal but couldn’t punch another one in to tie it up. Jaroslav Halak stopped 30 shots to secure the win for St. Louis. Shane Doan had two goals for the Coyotes.

Calgary 3 – Colorado 2

It was a night to celebrate grinders for Calgary. Tom Kostopolous and Tim Jackman each had a goal and an assist to lead the Flames past Colorado. Jarome Iginla also added a goal for the Flames who have now won three in a row. Miikka Kiprusoff had an unusually quiet night in goal stopping 19 shots. Daniel Winnik and Tomas Fleischmann scored third period goals for Colorado but weren’t able to get the equalizer late. Colorado has lost four of their last five games.

On his third team in three years, Bonino has ‘found a home for sure’ in Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH — In Anaheim, Nick Bonino was good, but not quite good enough to be the Ducks’ second-line center. So two summers ago he was traded to Vancouver as part of a package for Ryan Kesler.

In Vancouver, Bonino had one decent enough season, but the Canucks ultimately decided he wasn’t the kind of “foundation piece” they were looking for. So last summer he was traded to Pittsburgh as part of a package for Brandon Sutter.

In Pittsburgh though?

In Pittsburgh, Nick Bonino is a playoff hero, verging on folk hero. The 28-year-old scored the winning goal in the final minutes of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The chemistry he’s developed with linemates Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin has helped take the pressure off Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It’s given the Penguins what they’ve needed for so many years.

“He’s had some huge goals in the playoffs, come up really big,” said teammate Matt Cullen. “Obviously playing in the middle of that line, he’s been huge for us all playoffs. It just brings another element of depth to our team.”

And if you think Cullen had nice things to say about Bonino, that was nothing compared to head coach Mike Sullivan.

“I think he’s a terrific player in every aspect of the game,” said Sullivan. “We use him in so many key situations, both offensively and defensively. I think he’s a guy that has a real high hockey IQ, sees the ice really well. He has real good hands. His awareness defensively I think, the use of his stick to take passing lanes away, it’s impressive.

“He’s brave. He blocks shots. He’s one of our better shot-blockers. He’s a good faceoff guy. He’s done so much for this team to help us get to this point. I don’t know what other praise I can shower on him right now. We think he’s a terrific player.”

Signed through next season, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent, Bonino was asked if he’s finally found a long-term home in Pittsburgh.

“I don’t know about long-term, you never know. Especially me, the last few summers,” he said.

“[But] I think I found a home for sure. I enjoy the guys, enjoy the team. Organization is first class. Definitely feels nice to be in the Cup final playing with these two guys. It’s been a lot of fun for me.”

Despite rough start, the Sharks ‘know we’re going to get better’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after scoring a third period goal against Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — It’s only been one game of the Stanley Cup Final and the San Jose Sharks are already tired of hearing about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ speed.

“It’s an NHL team,” said defenseman Brent Burns. “They’re fast. So is St. Louis. It’s not like St. Louis has got boots on.”

“They’re a good rush team, they’ve got some speed, they make some plays,” captain Joe Pavelski grudgingly conceded. “I don’t know, those teams we’ve played before are pretty good. I think Nashville was probably one of the better rush teams that we saw.”

In other words, the Penguins’ speed was no big deal. Nothing new. Nothing to panic about. The Sharks can play better than they showed in Game 1, a 3-2 loss that wasn’t decided until the final few minutes.

“They definitely came out with some speed and were skating, created some chances,” said Pavelski. “But we helped that out along the way, too.”

After getting outshot 15-4 and outscored 2-0 in the first period, the Sharks fought back in the second. They cut down the turnovers, outshot the Penguins 13-8, and tied the game.

“They carried the first, obviously. We carried the second I think, and then the third was two good teams going at it,” said Burns, calling the opening 20 minutes a “Holy [expletive] we’re here” experience for a San Jose group that has never been this far in the playoffs.

“You make the Stanley Cup finals, you dream about it for a long time,” he said. “You probably used more energy the last couple of days thinking about it than playing in a game. … I think we’ll be better second game.”

Head coach Pete DeBoer agreed.

“They’re a fast team,” he said. “They dictated play in the first. I thought when we played our game in the second, they had trouble with us. It’s the first game of the series. It reminds me a lot of St. Louis Game 1. I know we’re going to get better. Our execution’s got to get better. Part of it was some of the pressure they put on, but part of it was self-inflicted.”

He added, “There’s nothing that I saw tonight that I’m going out of here thinking that we can’t come out and compete and play much better on our end.”

Sullivan calls it a ‘blindside hit to the head,’ but Marleau doesn’t think suspension’s coming

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PITTSBURGH — It didn’t take long for the first controversial incident of the Stanley Cup Final.

Patrick Marleau‘s illegal check to the head on Bryan Rust — one that earned Marleau a minor penalty, and forced Rust to exit the game — left Rust day-to-day with an upper-body injury, per Pens head coach Mike Sullivan.

When asked what he thought of the hit, Sullivan was blunt.

“It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”

Marleau wasn’t saying much about the incident following the game, but did suggest he wasn’t expecting supplemental discipline:

“I just tried to keep everything down,” Marleau added. “I didn’t want to get too high on him.”

It’ll be interesting to see what transpires. There hasn’t been a suspension in the Stanley Cup Final since Vancouver’s Aaron Rome was given a four-game ban for his massive hit on Boston forward Nathan Horton.

Marleau has no history with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

It should be mentioned the DoPS has been fairly active this spring, handing down five suspensions, including a pair of three-gamers to Brooks Orpik and Brayden Schenn.

Bonino scores late, role guys star again as Pens take Game 1

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PITTSBURGH — If this playoff run has proven anything, it’s that the Penguins are more than Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Tonight only reaffirmed it.

Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino did all the scoring on Monday, with Bonino’s late marker the winner as Pittsburgh defeated San Jose 3-2 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Bonino’s goal, his fourth of the playoffs, came with just over two minutes remaining, capping off a quality opener in which both teams carried play for long stretches.

Rust and Sheary punctuated a dominant opening period for the Penguins — they out-shot the Sharks 15-4 — but the Sharks replied with a stellar second frame, equalizing on goals from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau.

That set the stage for a dramatic third, and the Bonino goal.

That he, Rust and Sheary did the scoring for Pittsburgh was fitting. There’d been plenty of talk heading into this series about role players coming up large, to the point where the American Hockey League sent out a press release noting that 23 of 25 Penguins that’ve played in the playoffs thus far came through the AHL, highlighting the “big four” from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Rust, Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Murray.

Rust etched himself into Pittsburgh lore in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Lightning.

Murray’s exploits are pretty well-known. The 22-year-old was remarkably solid after regaining the starter’s net from Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 6 of the ECF, stopping 44 of 47 shots over the final two games of the series.

He was good again on Monday, with 24 saves on 26 shots.

Sheary, the diminutive speedster, scored his third goal of the playoffs tonight. Kuhnhackl tied a team high with eight hits.

As such, Pittsburgh has to be thrilled about how tonight went. They held up home ice and got contributions from across the board — the only downer has to be the health of Rust, who twice exited the contest after taking a hit to the head from Marleau.

As for the Sharks… well, this one will sting a bit. The club did remarkably well to rally from a two-goal deficit and carried play in the second period, but can’t be pleased.

They were beaten in the possession game and out-shot badly (41-26), things head coach Peter DeBoer wanted to control against Pittsburgh, a team he considers the fastest in the league.

That said, there are positives moving forward. Martin Jones was outstanding in his Stanley Cup Final debut, with 38 saves on 41 shots, and there’s still a chance to get the split on Wednesday night.

Of course, to do that, the Sharks will have to figure out how to slow down Pittsburgh’s role players.