Canucks push Blackhawks to brink of elimination with 3-2 win

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An ancient philosopher* once said: “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” The Vancouver Canucks are one win for completing that process, as they squeaked by the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 3-2 win.

* OK, I’ll admit it: professional wrestler Ric Flair was the person who said it, not an ancient philosopher.

Forgive the Chicago Blackhawks if they’re experiencing some “Shoe on the other foot” moments, too. After all, they were the ones who tormented the Canucks both physically and on the scoreboard in their last two playoff series. The Blackhawks also know what it’s like to be in a potential series sweep that is closer than it seems; they beat the San Jose Sharks in exactly that type of series in the 2010 Western Conference finals.

Vancouver 3, Chicago 2; Canucks lead the series 3-0.

While many cannot help but focus on the suspension debate regarding the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook, the real story revolves around the Blackhawks having no answer for the Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin scored a goal and one assist while Henrik Sedin had two assists in the Game 3 win. The Sedins factored into every Vancouver goal, as Henrik set up Mikael Samuelsson’s game-winning goal in the third period.

Chicago’s best players showed up in this game, even if they couldn’t match the top-end brilliance of the Sedin twins. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp found the net on different power plays, Jonathan Toews earned two helpers and Patrick Kane also provided an assist.

The Blackhawks’ productive power play and Sharp’s quick goal following that Torres penalty arouses suspicion that the Canucks were lucky that it was only a minor penalty. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville echoed such a sentiment in his post-game comments.

Quenneville on hit: “Brutal. Major. Absolutely. They missed it. Could have scored four goals on that play.”

Corey Crawford made some nice saves, but will probably regret his allowing three goals on 26 shots. Roberto Luongo continues to be a steady presence in Vancouver’s net, making 30 out of 32 saves for yet another win.

For Chicago fans who need a reason for (somewhat blind) optimism, here’s an abstract thought. The Blackhawks accomplished something they hadn’t done since 1961 by winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. To stay alive, they only need to pull off a task that the Philadelphia Flyers managed last year when they beat the Boston Bruins after falling behind 3-0.

Is that a stretch? Of course, but when you’re down three games to none, it’s time to break out the ludicrous reasons for positivity.

The one silver lining is that the Blackhawks haven’t been getting blown out. It’s little solace at this point, but Chicago scratched and clawed to get into the playoffs. Now they’ll need to do even more to stick around.

The Canucks would like to stamp out that possibility nice and quickly, like a well-timed figure four leglock.

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby shifts into high gear, Carlson clobbers Malkin

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You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.

The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.

It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.

MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start

That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.

Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.

Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.

There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?

Buckle up.

Video: Crosby scores two goals in 52 seconds vs. Capitals

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.

To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.

Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below:

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first: