Gabriel Landeskog

Is Landeskog leading the Calder race? Two NHL coaches think so

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Gabriel Landeskog has compiled a Calder Trophy-worthy resume this year — he’s the NHL rookie leader in shots on goal (258), tied for first in points (49), tied for first in goals (22) and is second in plus-minus (plus-20).

Now he’s got the backing of two head coaches.

The first one shouldn’t come as a surprise — it’s his own coach, Colorado bench boss Joe Sacco.

“Gabriel certainly has played like the rookie of the year all season long,” Sacco told the Vancouver Sun. “He’s been a very consistent player and he’s played in every situation possible for us. He does it with a strong work ethic. That’s the foundation of his success.”

Echoing those statements was Sacco’s coaching adversary for Wednesday’s Canucks-Avalanche contest at Rogers Arena — Alain Vigneault.

“He’s the best rookie in the league this year,” the Vancouver coach said. “In my mind, there are some other good rookies but he plays like a man right now and has a lot of skill to back it up.”

(It’s worth noting that Vigneault used to coach another rookie of the year candidate — Cody Hodgson — before he was shipped to Buffalo in exchange for Zack Kassian. By all accounts, AV and CoHo didn’t have the greatest relationship.)

Part of Landeskog’s success comes from his physical attributes (6-foot-1, 204-pounds) — they’ve allowed him to thrive late in the season, when other rookies have hit the wall. In February he scored 13 points in 12 games and has nine points through 14 games in March.

That said, he isn’t biting on the Calder talk.

“Rookie of the year? That’s a loaded question,” Landeskog said. “I don’t know. Obviously it would be a big honour but, at the same time, our goal is to make the playoffs.

“If we don’t, I’ll take some time off and see what I did well and what I can do better for next season.”

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.