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Bruins strike first, take 1-0 lead through tight first period

Going into Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, history seemed to be on the Vancouver Canucks’ side. The vast majority of home teams have won Game 7’s in the final round and they’ve been a much better team in Rogers Arena than in Boston during this series.

After one period of play, the numbers are leaning every so slightly toward the Boston Bruins instead. They scored the first (and only) goal of the first period, which some might look at as a prerequisite to victory since the team who scored the first goal won every game of this series. Of course, the home team also won every game of the Stanley Cup finals so far, so one trend will be erased by the time the silver chalice is raised in the air.

Boston 1, Vancouver 0 (end of first period)

The Bruins’ depth forwards were creating some of their team’s best chances (Shawn Thorton, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell put a shot on goal apiece), but it was a usual suspect who set up Boston’s goal. The Canucks’ top line won the faceoff but Brad Marchand managed to get the puck, create some space and then send a nice pass into the pile. Patrice Bergeron then sent a shot that Roberto Luongo had no chance of seeing into the net to make it 1-0. As I said in the chat, Marchand has been just effective in his pest-scorer role for Boston as Alex Burrows has been for the Canucks (if not more).

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While the Canucks tested Tim Thomas plenty of times, the all-world goalie was up to the task by making all eight saves. Vancouver remains very much in this game right now, but they probably don’t feel great about spotting Thomas a 1-0 lead, especially considering the fact that the Claude Julien is just as eager to go into “trap mode” as Alain Vigneault can be.

In case you’re wondering about the officiating angle, neither team drew a penalty in the first period. It didn’t seem like anything egregious went by the officials’ whistles, but we’ll wait and see if there are any controversial calls as this tight game goes along.

The Canucks have traditionally been stronger as the games go along, but aside from an early meltdown in Game 6, the Bruins also did their greatest damage to Luongo in second periods. We’ll keep you updated as this game continues on NBC.

Join the PHT Game 7 Live Chat here.

Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

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Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.