Ryan Miller shuts out Philadelphia, gives Buffalo a 1-0 series lead

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All season long Buffalo’s Ryan Miller has looked a little bit off. After a Vezina Trophy winning season last year and an Olympic tournament that saw him lead the way for Team USA, it only made sense that he would have a bit of a down year this year.

Leave it to Miller to make his biggest impression of the season when it started to matter the most as he stopped 35 shots in Game 1 of the playoffs to lead the Sabres to victory 1-0 over Philadelphia. The shutout was Miller’s second in his career in the playoffs and while he didn’t get a lot of offensive support tonight, he got just enough from Patrick Kaleta of all people to get the win.

The loss for Philadelphia continues a bad trend that carried them through the final month of the season as the Flyers struggled to the end. The Flyers closed their year from February 26 til the end of the regular season going 7-8-6 and now they’re dealing with a red hot Sabres team that finished their season strong.

Some of you may have given us some grief for going against the Flyers as long as they’re playing without Chris Pronger, but tonight was a prime example of how things can change without their best defenseman as it was Danny Syvret who was caught not defending Kaleta on the game’s only goal.

It’s unfortunate for Philadelphia as James van Riemsdyk played an outstanding game for the Flyers. They’ll need more of that from him as the playoffs roll on. While the stars are always counted on to be big performers, getting production from the depth players goes a long way.

For Buffalo, stealing home ice advantage away from Philadelphia goes a long way for them as they’ll at least head back to Buffalo for Game 3 with a split in the series and at most with a 2-0 lead and the Flyers on the ropes. Either way, seeing Miller shut things down does wonders for the Sabres confidence on a night when their offense was able to muster just one goal.

If the Flyers want to get wins in the playoffs, fixing their power play would go a long way towards helping that out. The Sabres were 0-5 with the man advantage and looked bad on all of them. It’s been an issue for the Flyers all season as their power play ranks out as the sixth worst one amongst teams in the playoffs during the regular season scoring just 16.6% of the time. Against Buffalo tonight they looked like a mishmash of players attempting to do something but that something wasn’t putting the puck in the net.

While Buffalo would love to see the offense pick up, if Miller plays outstanding like he did all playoffs… Buffalo looks a lot scarier to face.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators – Game 6

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Last night, the Nashville Predators demoralized the Ducks and advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Will we learn their opponent tonight or on Thursday?

That’s up to how the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators perform in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Will Sidney Crosby and the Penguins follow that 7-0 rout with a close-out performance, or will Erik Karlsson and the Senators avenge that embarrassing loss to send this series to a decisive Game 7?

Find out on NBCSN at tonight. You can also watch the game online and via the NBC Sports App.

Here’s what you need to know:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators (Pens lead 3-2)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Check out the highlights from Pittsburgh’s 7-0 win in Game 5

Related:

Pens redefining defense by committee

Four things the Pens need to do to eliminate the Sens

Swedish League champ sees another sign in NHL

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It’s an offseason of change for SHL champion HV71.

In the days following the league title, HV71 saw No. 1 goalie Linus Soderstrom sign his ELC with the Isles and d-man Andreas Borgman — the league’s rookie of the year — ink with the Leafs.

Earlier today, HV71 winger Filip Sandberg signed a two-year deal with San Jose. Shortly after that, Columbus announced it inked Sandberg’s running mate up front, Kevin Stenlund, to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Stenlund, 20, was the Blue Jackets’ second-round pick (58th overall) at the 2015 draft. He’s coming off a good year, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and games played during the regular season, then adding 10 points in 16 playoff appearances.

And he might have a chance to build on that campaign.

Per the Dispatch, the Blue Jackets expect Stenlund to play next year in Sweden, rather than try to make the move overseas. It’s possible the Isles could make the same decision with Soderstrom — meaning it’s not all bad for HV71.

 

Oilers re-sign Pakarinen for one year

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The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.

From the release:

Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.

Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.

Market heating up for prized Czech d-man Rutta

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Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.

Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.

“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”

Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.