Kovalchuk Ovechkin

Kovalchuk on prospect of facing Ovechkin: “It will be special for both of us”

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While he insists he has no preference which team — New York or Washington — advances to the Eastern Conference finals, Ilya Kovalchuk recognizes a matchup with Alex Ovechkin would be pretty cool.

“It doesn’t really matter who we’re going to play against, but for sure it would be something nice,” the Devils forward told NorthJersey.com. “We’re both Russians. We’re pretty much the same age and if they’re going to win it will be his first time on the conference finals too.

“So, I’m pretty sure it will be special for both of us.”

Kovalchuk and Ovechkin have never faced each other in the playoffs, but are quite familiar with each other. They’ve played internationally for Russia at both the Olympics and World Hockey Championships — winning gold together in 2008 — and it was Kovalchuk that famously brokered the Ovechkin-Evgeni Malkin reconcilliation back in 2009:

From The Handshake to The Gatorade Squirt, the Ovechkin-Malkin kiss-and-make-up melodrama is easily the top story of the All Star weekend. Well, one thing you should probably know is who was behind the truce. It was none other than Ilya Kovalchuk, the noble southern gentleman and the upright family man that he is.

Friday night, during the dinner with other fellow All Stars, Kovalchuk got the two of them together and proposed to finalize the peace talks (which began earlier that day with the handshaking incident) and make it all official.

Needless to say things won’t be as peaceful should Kovalchuk and Ovechkin cross paths this time around.

“It will be the conference finals,” he explained. “I’m pretty sure everybody will be pumped up and ready to go.”

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.