Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Two

Bylsma: “We’ve got to be a tougher team to play against”

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Earlier tonight, PHT asked readers who’s the most to blame for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ precarious 2-0 deficit against the Philadelphia Flyers after tonight’s 8-5 loss. If you ask a good chunk of Penguins players, it seems like they’d put a check mark in the “defense” category.

Brooks Orpik didn’t pull punches when discussing the tough game with Ray Fittipaldo.

“It’s execution, realizing what we’re doing wrong. We have to execute better,” Orpik said. “They’re taking advantage of every mistake we’re making. We’re hanging our goalie out to dry, that’s for sure.”

Orpik was blunt, yet he didn’t really give much of an indication regarding how the Penguins might “execute better.” Head coach Dan Bylsma provides the headline quote “We’ve got to be a tougher team to play against” to Seth Rorabaugh, but Jordan Staal was probably the most specific when he discussed what might be an important consideration.

“The game has been too open,” Staal said. “They’re a very fast team and they jump on opportunities when they can.”

Staal indirectly brings up an interesting thought that’s been bubbling up more and more lately: are the Penguins playing into Philly’s hands by trading blows? Sure, Pittsburgh lead the NHL in scoring during the regular season, but the Penguins have shown an ability to grind out ugly wins quite often the last couple years. Perhaps Pittsburgh should muck things up as if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin aren’t in the lineup, then?

It’s an awkward thought, but when you’re down 2-0 via two grueling losses, it’s probably time for some brutal self-assessment.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

 

Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.