Win one for Rick: Sabres take out Senators 6-4 on Tyler Ennis’ two goal game

On a day filled with sadness for the Sabres organization as they received news of legendary Sabres forward Rick Martin passing away this afternoon, the Sabres on the ice did well to honor his legend by lighting up the Senators 6-4. Youngster Tyler Ennis led the way for Buffalo scoring two goals while Nathan Gerbe scored a ripper of a slap shot that had coach Lindy Ruff praising Gerbe for scoring in a way that made him think of Martin.

Sabres defenseman Mike Weber finished the game with three assists and Thomas Vanek had a goal and an assist as well for Buffalo as they improved to 76 points and back into a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with the Rangers. Jhonas Enroth got the start in goal and made 34 saves for Buffalo to earn the win.

Ottawa’s Jason Spezza had a huge game in the loss scoring two goals and assisting on both Colin Greening and Erik Karlsson’s goals as well. Spezza is virtually the lone big name forward left on the ice at the moment for the Senators and seeing him step up in such a way is encouraging to see. Craig Anderson was chased from the game after giving up four goals on 17 shots in just 22:10 of action. Curtis McElhinney took the loss in the game, however, giving up two goals in 16 shots.

The win keeps Buffalo four ahead of Carolina for the final playoff spots in the East while Toronto and Atlanta are each six points out. New Jersey continues to lurk eight points out. Florida and the Islanders are a distant 11 points back. The Sabres will have an important game coming on Tuesday night at home against Carolina. With less than 15 games to go in the season for most teams, every game will feel like a playoff game for teams still in the hunt.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.