Dougie Hamilton

Five Canadians to watch at the World Juniors

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Team Canada announced its 22-man roster for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship today. Here are five players to watch, starting Dec. 26 when Canada plays Finland in Edmonton.

Dougie Hamilton (D) – Also known as the guy the Bruins drafted with the second of the two first-round picks the Leafs sent to Boston for Phil Kessel. Hamilton’s been tearing up the OHL with the Niagara Ice Dogs – the 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenseman has 45 points in 30 games.

Ryan Murray (D) – One of two undrafted players to make the cut (the other being forward Tanner Pearson), Murray is the No. 4 prospect in the 2012 draft, according to International Scouting Services. Due to a high-ankle sprain, the 18-year-old has only played 11 games this season for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.

Jaden Schwartz (F) – The only NCAA player on the team, Schwartz (Colorado College) was drafted 14th overall by St. Louis in 2010. One of four returning members to the squad, the 19-year-old will hope to have a better experience than last year when he fractured his ankle in the second game of the tournament. It’s sure to be an emotional time for Schwartz. His sister, Mandi, a former Yale hockey player, passed away from cancer in April. “She’s on my mind every day,” he said Saturday. “You can’t stop thinking about her. She was there for me so much. She inspires me every day still. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about here. Everything I do is for her.”

Brendan Gallagher (F) – Though small in stature, Gallagher managed to turn a lot of heads at Montreal’s training camp. The Habs drafted the Vancouver Giants (WHL) winger with the 147th overall pick in 2010. “He’s not a big player but has a big heart,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “He goes to the net, he’s not afraid and has good hands.” Of note, Gallagher’s junior coach, Don Hay, is also Team Canada’s coach.

Jonathan Huberdeau (F) – Taken third overall in June by the Florida Panthers, Huberdeau (Saint John, QMJHL) is still recovering from a broken foot that he suffered in early November. Obviously management is optimistic he’ll be able to play or they wouldn’t have kept him. Huberdeau had 28 points in 13 games for the Sea Dogs before getting injured.

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

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Brian Boyle #11 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final with a score of 5 to 2 during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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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

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
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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.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.