Canucks not distracted knowing that the Stanley Cup is in the house

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It’s must be a terrible burden to be leading in the Stanley Cup finals and knowing that you’re just one win away from being able to lift the Stanley Cup over your head and being immortalized forever having your name engraved on it. That’s the position the Vancouver Canucks find themselves in on the road for Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead on Boston.

With the Stanley Cup in the house and some Canucks players with family members in attendance for tonight’s game, you’d think that that would be more than enough distractions for one day. With a game still to be played tonight in a building the Canucks have yet to win in in the playoffs, things seem stacked up against Vancouver to come out focused tonight.

The Canucks, for their sake, are at least saying all the right things in advance of tonight’s game.

When asked about the Cup being in the building, Daniel Sedin had a fun way to counter the excitement there.

“It’d be cooler if we could bring it out on the ice that’s for sure. We know we have a chance tonight but we need to play a lot better than we’ve done the last two games here. I know we can.”

As far as getting away from the distractions surrounding them, Daniel says the answer is pretty simple.

“We’re going to play a hockey a game and try to win. That’s our focus. If we can bring the same game as we played at home last game we’re going to have a good chance. Boston’s a good team and they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game so it’s going to be a tough game.”

Each Canucks player that was available after this morning’s skate was asked repeatedly about what it’s like to be able to have the chance to win tonight and that the Stanley Cup is in the house for one reason only: For the Canucks to take home if they win it all tonight. Canucks forward Manny Malhotra, who has his own inspiration and reason to go all out tonight, is keeping a pretty cool mindset.

“We’ve done a really good job on focusing on what we need to do. Obviously the added media around… all the talk about what’s going on around the series, all the side stories, that doesn’t really matter to us it’s all about playing the game tonight.”

Malhotra expounded on things more thoughtfully to tap into what goes into a player’s mind before a game like this.

“Every team starts out with the same goal. Some have more realistic chances than others and to be in this opportunity to play with such a good team all year long, such a deep team… To be this close we’re looking to seize the moment.”

Vancouver does appear to be very focused on tonight but they were in this spot before during Games 3 and 4 and came up incredibly small. The motivation tonight is a lot different, however. Lord Stanley’s Cup will be in the building being shined up for them just in case they pull things off tonight. Otherwise, it’ll be off to Vancouver for a winner-take-all Game 7. While the party in Vancouver would be immense if they were able to win it at home, they’d much rather have the party waiting for them after their flight home and a victory in Game 6.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

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.