Michael Grabner, Paul Gaustad, Rob Niedermayer

Mid-afternoon delight: Rangers snap skid, Kings shutout Flyers, Isles win a wild one

1 Comment

NY Rangers 5 – Pittsburgh 3

The Rangers snapped their six-game losing streak against the beat up and battered Penguins. Ryan Callahan scored twice and added an assist while Henrik Lundqvist settled down nicely after a rough first period to get the win making 26 saves. Marc Staal had a pair of assists as the Rangers were able to stop their playoff-spot-threatening slide. For the Penguins, their tour of New York ends meekly with their injury-depleted roster, dropping games to the Isles and Rangers and fitting a bus accident in between all of that.

Los Angeles 1 – Philadelphia 0

L.A.’s road trip marches on and their hellish run through Pittsburgh, D.C., and Philadelphia ends with them going 2-0-1 and giving up just three goals as Jon Quick earned his sixth shutout of the season stopping 40 Flyers shots in the win. Drew Doughty’s second period goal was all the Kings would need to win as they shutdown the NHL’s third highest-scoring team. The Kings are now 4-0-2 on their 10-game road trip and head to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

NY Islanders 7 – Buffalo 6 (F/OT)

Everyone expected firewagon hockey to make a comeback today, right? Michael Grabner capped off a wild game scoring his hat trick goal in overtime to give the Sabres a defeat they’ll be kicking themselves over. Grabner’s three goals give him 24 on the season and suddenly he’s vaulted into the discussion for the Calder Trophy for the league’s best rookie. Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen each had three assists to help lead the Isles to victory. The Sabres Drew Stafford had a hat trick of his own, his fourth of the season giving him 23 goals of his own on the season. The goalies were a massive letdown in this one as Isles starter Mikko Koskinen was chased after giving up fout goals on 14 shots. Al Montoya took over and earned the win after giving up just two more. Ryan Miller looked bad today giving up all seven Isles goals and stopping just 19 shots. Buffalo with the loss blows a big chance to climb up the standings in the East as they try to get back in the playoff picture.

Columbus 2 – Dallas 1

When a team is rolling and getting solid goaltending, sometimes the captain has to step up and elevate things to another level. Good thing for Columbus they’ve got Rick Nash around to do that. Nash’s second period goal snapped a 1-1 tie and Steve Mason would do his job and shut down the Stars the rest of the way to give Columbus their fifth win in their last six games. Mason saved 29 shots to get the win while Kari Lehtonen was a bit of a hard-luck loser stopping 37 shots in the loss. Matt Calvert also scored for Columbus while Brad Richards scored Dallas’ lone goal.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.