The Columbus Blue Jackets took the lead twice on Sunday, but fell victim to a five-goal barrage from the Edmonton Oilers in the second period. To the surprise of no one, the Blue Jackets, who have only won twice all season when trailing after 40 minutes, ended up losing 6-3. As a result, Columbus now has the kind of peace of mind that no other team in the NHL has obtained. They know that their remaining games can’t help or hurt them from a rankings perspective, because no matter what they do, they will finish the season with the worst record in the league.
Of course, Edmonton won’t fare much better in 2011-12, but it’s games like this one that give them hope for the future. Even without 2010 first overall pick Taylor Hall available, the Oilers’ youth still played a prominent role in this victory. Calder Trophy contender Ryan Nugent-Hopkins registered two assists and sophomore breakout Jordan Eberle did just as well. 25-year-old rookie Chris VandeVelde netted his first NHL goal while Sam Gagner, who is still just 22, set a new career-high with his 17th goal of the campaign.
Gagner is of course best known for his four-goal, eight-point game on Feb. 2 and the hot streak to follow. While he’s fallen back to Earth since then, he has heated up lately with two goals and four points in his last four games.
The highlight of the game from Columbus’ perspective was probably Rick Nash scoring on a penalty shot which, at the time, game them a 2-1 lead. You can view his goal and the other game highlights below.
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Of course, if you’re a Blue Jackets fan, seeing Nash have a good game has to give you mixed feelings. Nash was looking to be dealt before the trade deadline and rather than hope to build a team around him, Columbus is probably just looking to squeeze as much as they can out of a Nash trade over the summer. But hey, at least the Blue Jackets are in a great position going into the draft lottery.
Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.
Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.
For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.
The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.
San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.
The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.
As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.
Here are the details:
McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.
The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.
One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.
Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.
The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.
It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.
Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.
(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)
Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.
“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.
“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”
The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.
You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch
On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott
The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko
Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday