Zdeno Chara, Alex Burrows

What Vancouver’s Game 2 overtime win over Boston told us

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After a stunning 3-2 overtime win by Vancouver in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals to take a 2-0 series lead, we learned a bit more about what makes both the Canucks and Bruins tick. The Bruins played a solid Game 2 but still failed to come out on top. There’s a few things we can take away from Game 2 though and there’s some silver linings for Boston but most of the positives belong to Vancouver.

Vancouver proved that they don’t quit at all. They haven’t quit all playoffs long and tonight they battled back after being down 2-1 after two periods. They got the big play they needed out of their top line with the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows. Burrows had two goals and an assist while Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist. Somehow Henrik Sedin ends up out of the loop points-wise. The key on Burrows’ game-winning goal though falls on the play of three different Bruins players: Andrew Ference, Zdeno Chara, and Tim Thomas.

It starts with the faceoff that the Bruins win and Ference looks to send up the boards. The puck gets cut off by Alexander Edler and Daniel Sedin. Sedin dishes it off to Alex Burrows and Burrows had the step on Chara. Chara isn’t one of the fastest skaters in the league and relies on his size and reach to make life tough on scorers. In this case, Burrows was already past Chara enough so that he had to overcome his reach. Burrows draws in closer on Thomas, who closed out the third period playing very aggressive challenging pucks and players far from his net, faking a shot to get Thomas down and committed so he can go behind the net to wraparound and score.

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While the Bruins won’t want Thomas to change his style of game, it was clear that the Canucks crashing and buzzing of his net was making him cranky. Seeing a guy like Burrows come barreling down on him got Thomas thinking he had to cut him off with Burrows already past Chara. Thomas went for the poke check and missed. The end result sees the Bruins heading home down 2-0 in the series.

Thomas’ brand of goalie rage was something that became evident late in the game and while we love watching him play aggressively and not take anyone else’s crap, seeing him get faked out the way he did in overtime makes some wish he’d rein it in a little bit more often. Nonsense. He’s gotten this far by doing things his way and he relies heavily on the play of the defense in front of him. The winning goal showed that when breakdowns happen all over the ice, he feels the need to try and stop it himself. It didn’t pay off this time, but other times already in this series it’s worked. In short: Thomas is fine, let him be. Dominik Hasek used to play a crazy, aggressive brand of hockey too and he did all right.

If you want a silver lining for the Bruins after what turns out to be two gut-punch losses in the finals (losing with 18 seconds left in the third period in Game 1, and now tonight’s overtime loss) it’s that they’re headed home for Game 3 on Monday. With the fans being ready to rage and with the way they’ve fueled the Bruins through the playoffs, the atmosphere at TD Garden will be out of this world and the exact kind of thing the Bruins need to feed off of. If the Bruins can protect home ice, they’re in fine shape. If they can’t… Then things might get really sad, really fast in Boston.

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.