West update: Sharks are tonight’s only empty-handed team

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Tuesday’s six big Western Conference showdowns gave every contender a reason to keep their heads high to at least some extent – except the San Jose Sharks, whose shoulders must slump low.

The Sharks have now lost back-to-back games in regulation to start the week, as the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings flagrantly outplayed them. Tuesday’s game versus Los Angeles ended with a 5-2 win for the Kings that included a Jeff Carter empty-netter that really just made the score seem more fitting.

(San Jose allowed 40+ shots in both contests.)

Stars stand alone

The Dallas Stars stand above everyone else thanks to a big overtime win in an absolutely enthralling game against the Phoenix Coyotes, but that’s far the only important story of the night.

Smoking Semyon

Considering the fact that he’s gone 10-2-0 in his last 12 games, it might be fair to call Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov “Ilya Bryzgalov West.” Varly stopped all but one shot as the Avs squeezed out a 2-1 OT win against the Calgary Flames in a matchup of two playoff-desperate teams. (Interesting side note: Matt Stajan has been Calgary’s lone goal scorer in two straight games, which allowed them to salvage efforts with a charity point in each.)

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West outlook

Now that you’re updated on the nightly results, here is how the race for the final few spots looks:

3) Dallas: 84 points, 33 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

7) Colorado: 85 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and seven games left
8) Los Angeles: 84 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

9) Phoenix: 84 points, 30 regulation/OT wins and eight games left
10) San Jose: 82 points, 29 regulation/OT wins and nine games left
11) Calgary: 82 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and eight games left

Yup, that’s obviously as close as it gets. Perhaps the one bit of good news for the Sharks is that they’re not totally out of it yet – honest. Still, this is a huge turnaround, with perhaps the Kings grinning the widest.

  • The Coyotes might lose Shane Doan for a few games.
  • It’s possible that the Stars might lose their big star Jamie Benn if a rough contest against Phoenix did injure him.
  • They have a games remaining edge on the Colorado Avalanche and other edges on the Flames.

Either way, there’s no glossing over tonight’s big losers: the Sharks. In fact, Sports Club Stats places their playoff chances in 10th place at 37.7 percent – down a whopping 18.2 percent tonight – while Los Angeles is at seventh with 70.6 percent odds (up 10.1 percent).

Addendum: even if you say “Hey, the Nashville Predators lost to the Edmonton Oilers tonight,” the response is simple. If getting Alexander Radulov back isn’t a big win, then what is?

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

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Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

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The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.