Power play and fortunate calls help Vancouver beat Chicago 4-3

Whenever the Canucks and Blackhawks meet, it’s almost like a shock therapy session for Vancouver and their fans. They’re there to relive a nightmare they’ve experienced the last two seasons in the playoffs when the Blackhawks have eliminated the Canucks in virtually embarrassing ease. When they meet up in the regular season, their match-ups often function as a cruel reminder of the fate Vancouver has met the last two years.

Tonight, the Canucks opted to fight back. Vancouver jumped out to a first period lead on Christian Ehrhoff’s goal but when the second rolled around, it seemed like the same story was about to unfold as Jonathan Toews and Nick Boynton scored to put Chicago up 2-1. Vancouver bounced back though as Mikael Samuelsson scored late in the period to make it 2-2 as the teams headed to the third.

In the third, Dave Bolland would put Chicago up 3-2 with a rebound goal at 7:47 but the Canucks fortitude would shine through again less than three minutes later as Henrik Sedin scored on the power play as he and his brother Daniel Sedin worked some puck magic to even things up. Daniel would ice the game six minutes later with a goal of his own to put Vancouver ahead for good. Vancouver was able to beat Marty Turco who made 28 saves in the loss.

The game wouldn’t be without controversy though. Dave Bolland had a goal wiped away in the first period as the referees felt he interfered with Roberto Luongo and disallowed what was believed to be the game’s first goal. Compounding that, Ehrhoff’s goal in the first appeared to exit the zone before being brought back in leading to the goal. Replays show that while the call was close, the puck did cross the blue line making the play offsides. The call was missed and Vancouver got a goal. Chicago got their own shots in as well as Marty Turco got a cheap shot in on Ryan Kesler using his stick to chop Kesler in the groin, sending him off to the bench for a spell to catch his breath.

All that aside, the game came down to the power play as Chicago finished 0-5 with the man advantage including a 47 second span of 5-on-3 action. The Canucks capitalized on two of their power play chances and Roberto Luongo cashed in with a stellar performance stopping 42 shots. If this win is an example of what the Canucks can do this year and their mental block against Chicago is gone, life in the Western Conference is going to be really tough for the other 14 teams.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.