Canada v Sweden: 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship - Day Six

Lightning agree to terms with 2010 1st rounder Brett Connolly

The Lightning started their busy offseason today by agreeing to terms with their sixth overall pick Brett Connolly. Terms have not been released for the entry-level deal, but it’s the first step in what Lightning fans hope will be a long productive career.
The Prince George, BC native was such a highly regarded prospect that he was Central Scouting’s third ranked skater even though he only played in 16 games last season due to a nagging hip injury. He was the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals in the traditionally defensive Western Hockey League in over a decade (Patrick Marleau). Some people thought he was the best pure sniper in the 2010 draft—a draft that included Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, and Jeff Skinner.

This season scouts were reminded of his spectacular talent as he netted 46 goals in 59 games for the Prince George Cougars. Yet another injury (this time a dislocated shoulder) sidelined him for the 2011 playoffs—but the spectacular stats he posted in the regular season proved that he had successfully rebounded from the his troubling hip injury.

Damian Cristodero from the St. Pete Times had the story:

Brett Connolly, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top pick, and No. 6 pick overall, in the 2010 draft, has signed an entry-level contract. The paperwork is not yet registered so it is not “official” (that should happen in July). Connolly could not immediately be reached but his father, Pat, confirmed the signing.

Later Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune confirmed with Connolly himself that he’d signed an entry-level deal.

Looking forward, Connolly has the potential to go with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman as the next generation of hockey stars in Tampa Bay. Next on Steve Yzerman’s offseason “to do” list will be to start making decisions on all of the Lightning free agents. Restricted free agents Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell are both in line for healthy raises. They’ll also have to make decisions on unrestricted free agent playoff performers Dwayne Roloson, Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim, Eric Brewer, Mike Smith, and Adam Hall. Tampa Bay is in good shape with their salary cap situation, but they’ll have plenty of work to with their available money.

Steve Yzerman knows things are looking good for his young team:

“We have a good nucleus. We’ve got to make good decisions to try and keep the team at this level or even get better for next year. We have a competitive group of guys and we have a very good coaching staff, so there’s a lot to feel good about.”

The 2010-11 season was a great start for the Steve Yzerman era—but the folks in Tampa view it as just that: a start. Brett Connolly figures to be a piece to help the Lightning build on their Eastern Conference Final appearance. As Yzerman said, they were only a goal away from the Stanley Cup Final this year. If they can make the right moves over the offseason, they should have an opportunity to build on the success over the next few years.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: