Buffalo 5 – Philadelphia 3
After one period you would’ve thought it was going to be a Philly romp. The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Kris Versteeg and James van Riemsdyk. The Sabres played like they didn’t have an answer for the Flyers. Luckily for them, hockey has more than one period and in the second they busted out in a big way getting goals from Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, and Andrej Sekera. With the lead being theirs at 3-2 the Sabres had the momentum until Kimmo Timonen scored shorthanded to even it up at three.
In the third period, however, the Sabres got one back when Jason Pominville scored on a beauty of a feed from Thomas Vanek to beat Sergei Bobrovsky and put Buffalo ahead for good. The Flyers would try to claw back but Nathan Gerbe’s empty net goal salted the game away. Ryan Miller finished the game with 33 saves while Bobrovsky had 30 in the loss. The win moves Buffalo to one point behind Carolina for eighth and two behind the Rangers for seventh in the East. The loss is Philadelphia’s third in a row. They’re helping keep the Penguins in the running for the Atlantic Division title on their own.
NY Islanders 5 – St. Louis 2
Isles defenseman Andrew MacDonald was the offensive stud today scoring two goals. Getting that sort of offensive output from the blue line has been sorely lacking for the Isles this year with Mark Streit out for most of the season and MacDonald did well to inspire the fans with his play. Continuing to be an inspiration was Michael Grabner who had a goal and an assist as did P.A. Parenteau. John Tavares’ first period goal might be the sort of thing you’ll see as our goal of the night. For St. Louis, their own Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist. Al Montoya was the winner for the Isles stopping 21 shots. Ben Bishop stopped just 17 for St. Louis in the loss.
From the NHL:
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.
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
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
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.