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Blackhawks stun Coyotes 2-1 with late goal, Ducks hurt Flames playoff hopes in overtime

Chicago did themselves a huge favor in their hunt for the playoffs earning a 2-1 win over the Coyotes in Glendale. Chris Campoli’s power play goal with just over six minutes left in the third period broke a 1-1 tie while Corey Crawford stopped 22 shots to give the Blackhawks the win.

Goals from Duncan Keith for Chicago in the first and Eric Belanger for Phoenix in the second held up until Shane Doan was called for a questionable penalty late in the third. That call led to Campoli’s blast that beat Ilya Bryzgalov (26 saves) and hurt the Coyotes chances of drawing closer to San Jose in the Pacific Division and putting distance between themselves and the rest of the playoff chasers in the West.

The win may have come at a price for Chicago as Patrick Sharp left the game late in the first period after taking an accidental knee-on-knee hit from Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival. Sharp was favoring his left knee in a big way and did not return to the game. If Chicago loses him for any amount of time, the pressure on Marian Hossa to step his game up grows huge.

Chicago’s win was important for another reason as Anaheim and Calgary did battle in California. With both teams entering today just one point behind Chicago for eighth in the West, the winner was going to catch the Hawks if they’d lost. Instead, Chicago pulls away from them while Anaheim delivered a crucial shot Calgary’s playoff chances beating Calgary 5-4 in overtime.

Corey PerryCorey Perry scored twice including the game-winner in overtime and added an assist to lead the Ducks to the win in a wild one. Anaheim jumped out to a 3-0 lead just 5:49 into the game before chasing Miikka Kiprusoff in favor of Henrik Karlsson. The Flames would slowly get back into the game rattling off four straight goals to take a 4-3 lead in the third including tallies by Jarome Iginla and Rene Bourque.

Teemu Selanne would tie things up on the power play with just over two minutes to play. Selanne’s great season continues as he had a goal and two assists in this one. In overtime, Iginla was denied by Dan Ellis on a breakaway opportunity. Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan then was awarded a penalty shot in overtime which Karlsson stopped. The ensuing faceoff after the penalty shot attempt, however, turned into Ryan Getzlaf winning it back to Toni Lydman who fired away while Perry tipped it home to give the Ducks the dramatic win.

Getzlaf finished the game with a goal and three assists and put Anaheim into eighth place with 85 points. The Ducks are tied with Dallas with 85 points but hold the tiebreaker over Dallas at the moment. Calgary isn’t out of it but with just eight games left to play and sitting a point back of the eighth spot, they can’t afford to make many more mistakes with other teams having games in hand.

Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) 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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The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against 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 Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.