Tyler Ennis puts Buffalo on the brink, Sabres beat Flyers 4-3 in OT to take 3-2 series lead

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Tyler Ennis isn’t a finalist for the Calder Trophy this year but for Sabres fans he’s been all the rookie they could possibly hope for this season. Tonight, he helped make a case for full-blown cult hero status after scoring two goals including the game-winner in overtime to give the Sabres a 4-3 overtime win and a 3-2 series lead.

Ennis helped the Sabres to avoid another NHL playoff meltdown as Buffalo was up 3-0 in this game after scoring three times in the first period on starter Brian Boucher. Ennis, Thomas Vanek, and Marc-Andre Gragnani each scored on Boucher to chase him out of the game after saving just eight shots. In came last year’s playoff hero Michael Leighton and the combination of Leighton and Flyers pride helped get them back into the game.

James van Riemsdyk scored 8:12 into the second period to get the Flyers on the board and 1:45 later Andrej Meszaros blasted a shot from the blue line past Ryan Miller to make it 3-2.

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Sabres coach Lindy Ruff then burned his timeout to settle things down and the move paid off until the third period when Daniel Briere tied the game at 3:36 of the third. While the Flyers took control of the game in the second period and through to the third, the game would head to overtime.

There, Ennis put home a big rebound from a Mike Weber slap shot to help put the Sabres over the top and roaring with emotion heading home for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. on NBC).

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For Philadelphia, the questions about their goaltending now come roaring back again. After Sergei Bobrovsky was chased out of Game 2, Brian Boucher stood tall until tonight. Now with Leighton playing well enough through the rest of tonight’s game, the big question falls on who will start a pivotal Game 6.

Given the issues the Flyers are having defensively, having problems in goal is the last thing coach Peter Laviolette wanted to deal with. Instead, he’s seeing all the worries about goaltending come flying back in his face and awakening the ghosts of playoff failures past.

The Sabres get to avoid yet another collapse in the playoffs and getting tossed into the conversation with the likes of the Kings and Rangers. Instead, they rode out the storm and took advantage of opportunity in overtime to seal up the game. They played an outstanding first period and took advantage of some crazy bounces but those things happen when you work hard. It’s cliché, but a complete effort like that means the Sabres don’t even have to play an overtime period and they win going away. They’ll need that full effort if they want to knock the Flyers out of the playoffs on Sunday.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins

Sens ink veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya to one-year deal

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The Ottawa Senators have added some depth to their blue line, as they’ve signed Johnny Oduya to a one-year deal that comes with a base salary of $1 million.

Interestingly enough, Oduya can earn another $1.25 million in performance bonuses (games played, time -on-ice, playoff bonuses), per the Sens’ Twitter account.

The 35-year-old started last season with the Dallas Stars, but he was traded back to the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 28.

Oduya finished the 2016-17 season with two goals, seven assists and a minus-4 rating in 52 games. He also played in all four the Blackhawks’ playoff games (he had no points and a minus-3 rating in the postseason).

The Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, and they didn’t replace him with a free-agent signing until now.

As of right now, Ottawa has Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Cody Ceci, Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman, Fredrik Claesson and Oduya on the back end (only Phaneuf and Karlsson are under contract beyond 2017-18). Top prospect Thomas Chabot could also make the team with a solid training camp.

Jets sign Connor Hellebuyck to one-year, $2.25 million deal

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The Winnipeg Jets took care of some important business on Monday morning, as they re-signed goalie Connor Hellebuyck to a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

The two sides were scheduled to have an arbitration hearing on Aug. 1, but as expected, they were able to hammer out  a deal before reaching that point.

After being selected in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, Hellebuyck quickly became one of the best prospects in the Jets’ system.

The 24-year-old made his NHL debut in 2015-16. He posted 13-11-1 record with a 2.34 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage. In 2016-17, he appeared in 56 games and finished with a 26-19-4 record, a 2.89 goals-against-average and a .907 save percentage.

Even though Hellebuyck will be back next season, the Jets will have a different look between the pipes. On July 1st, they inked Steve Mason to a two-year contract worth $8.2 million.

As has been the case over the last couple of seasons, Winnipeg will continue to have a crowded crease. On top of having Mason and Hellbuyck under contract, Michael Hutchinson still has one year left on his deal at $1.15 million.

It’ll be interesting to see how head coach Paul Maurice divides starts between Hellebuyck and Mason (assuming both are completely healthy).

Mason played in 58 games with the Flyers last season and he’s making almost double what Hellebuyck is making for now.

PHT Morning Skate: Should the Flyers be worried about Claude Giroux?

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–Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had his day with the Stanley Cup, and he decided to bring it to a children’s hospital in the Montreal area. Even though he missed the playoffs with an injury, the hospital visit put things in perspective for him. (Canadian Press)

Jordan Eberle may not be a member of the Edmonton Oilers anymore, but that didn’t stop him from having a good time at his wedding with some of his old teammates. Country music star Brett Kissel also made an appearance during Eberle’s big night. (Sportsnet)

–Flyers center Claude Giroux has seen his production decrease over the last three seasons, and CSN Philly is wondering if it’s time to worry about the captain. Some of the CSN Philly writers are a little more optimistic about his odds of bouncing back than others. (CSN Philly)

–The Montreal Canadiens want fans to stop using printed tickets, so they’ve decided to charge season-ticket holders a $150 plus taxes fee to have a ticket booklet sent to them. Obviously, some fans aren’t thrilled about the additional charge for “hard” tickets. “They don’t think about this stuff. And if you read the letter, you’ll see that they just jammed it at the bottom of the letter with this nice little surprise. (Montreal Gazette)

–CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty looks at which available free agents would be the best fit for the Boston Bruins. Haggerty believes that taking a chance on Eric Gelinas could be worth the risk, but he also feels like a reunion with Jarome Iginla or Jaromir Jagr could make some sense. (CSN New England)

–The Chicago Blackhawks held a press conference on Saturday, but there was a catch. Only children were allowed to ask questions to players like Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy and Nick Schmaltz. Questions ranged from “How do you feel with the other team on the ice?” to “What is the best prank you did on a player?” Cute stuff. (Chicago Tribune)