TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 17: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck past a checking Matt Frattin #39 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game on October 17, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Avalanche defeated the Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Landeskog, Duchene going different directions in Colorado

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Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win over Chicago was a good one for Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog. The 18-year-old rookie had his first career two-goal game and was credited with six hits.

“He continues to impress; he continues to develop in the right way,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.

The game wasn’t as good for Landeskog’s teammate, Matt Duchene. The 20-year-old played just 11:35 after getting demoted to the fourth line and didn’t have a shot on goal.

“He knows he has to be better for us,” Sacco said.

While this is light years away from being a controversy, it’s still interesting — Duchene hasn’t experienced much adversity since turning pro. In his rookie year, he was nominated for the Calder and scored the goal that sent Colorado to the playoffs. In his sophomore year, he made his first All-Star team while becoming the youngest player to ever lead the Avs in scoring.

For what it’s worth, Duchene took Saturday’s demotion in stride. “It’s…whatever. We played pretty well, so I’m not complaining,” he said following game.

Thing is, Duchene’s struggles weren’t limited to the Blackhawks contest. He’s had a slow start with just four points through eight games and just one assist over his last four. Now there’s a bit of a conundrum to where exactly Duchene fits. The Milan Hejduk-Paul Stastny-David Jones line looked great against Chicago. Duchene could center Landeskog and Daniel Winnik, but they’ve got chemistry with Ryan O’Reilly (he assisted on both Landeskog goals Saturday — all told, the line had five points on the night.) So Sacco might be loathe to mess with success there as well. It probably won’t be a major issue as Duchene can play up and down the lineup, but it’s worth monitoring as we move forward.

Oh, right, almost forgot about the Landeskog bit. Through eight games, he’s proven worthy of the No. 2 selection over Adam Larsson, the Swedish defenseman many thought would go to Colorado at the draft. What’s most impressive is Landeskog’s workload, averaging nearly 17 minutes a night (most amongst all rookie forwards) on a Colorado team with solid depth up front. Sure, he’s benefited from the loss of Peter Mueller — getting more LW minutes as Mueller deals with what sounds like post-concussion issues — but he was thriving even before the Mueller injury, firing 20 shots on goal in his first five games.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.