Tampa Bay’s goalie search has a decidedly European feel

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are in need of a goalie for next season.

To that end, GM Steve Yzerman is searching high, low and in between for netminding options — a search that has led him to Europe, where a few interesting prospects have emerged.

The Tampa Tribune reports that Yzerman, currently in Finland scouting the World Championships, has expressed interest in bringing back 2006 first-round pick Riku Helenius.

“Helenius had a very good season,” Yzerman said. “We have interest in him returning.”

Helenius, 24, was taken 15th overall by then-GM Jay Feaster but only appeared in one game for the Lightning. He “bolted” (zing!) in 2009 and spent two years playing with Sodertalje of the Swedish Elite League before moving to Jyvaskyla of the Finnish league this year.

He proceeded to lead Jyvaskyla to a championship this season, posting a 1.64 GAA and .936 save percentage in 33 games. In 13 playoff games, he had a 1.73 GAA and .947 save percentage.

The Lightning could also be looking at a European goalie at the draft. They’ll have two first-round picks (10th and 20th overall, pending the result of the remaining conference semifinals) and, according to the Tribune, could set their targets on…

Andrei Vasilevski, a 6-foot-3 Russian who is ranked 21st overall by The Hockey News and 18th by TSN.

6-foot-3 Oscar Dansk, who led Sweden to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships and is ranked 44th overall by The Hockey News and 33rd by TSN.

Tampa Bay scouting director Al Murray says this year’s goalie crop is a good one.

“There are some big kids who are agile and athletic, it’s just they need some refining on their technique in a lot of cases, which is the same with all positions,” Murray said. “But I think, in general, this is a stronger year for goalies.”

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.

MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.