Malkin becomes fourth Penguin to win Hart Trophy

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For the first time in his career, Evgeni Malkin is the Hart Trophy winner. Pittsburgh’s star forward beat out two other finalists, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos, for the award that was presented Wednesday in Las Vegas.

The Hart Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and given to the “player adjudged most valuable to his team.”

Malkin placed first on 144 of the 149 ballots cast. He finished with a score of 1,473 in the voting, well above Stamkos’ 598 points. Lundqvist finished third with 556 points.

Malkin, 25, scored 50 goals and added 59 assists for the Penguins in 2011-12. His 109 points also earned him the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.

Malkin becomes the fourth Penguin to win the Hart, joining Mario Lemieux (1988, 1993, 1996), Jaromir Jagr (1999) and Sidney Crosby (2007).

Malkin reacts

“It’s a special day to me,” Malkin said. “I hope it’s not the last one I’ll win.”

During his acceptance speech, Malkin thanked former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar – and with good reason. Malkin stayed at Gonchar’s home, but perhaps most importantly, the veteran Russian player often acted as a translator for the young star. Malkin said that he’s gradually becoming more comfortable with the language and spotlight in the U.S.

“Every year I’m a little bit more comfortable,” Malkin said. “I learn more English, I watch TV and have more friends in Pittsburgh.”

Ultimately, his game speaks for itself, but another impressive set of hardware says plenty more.

Recent winners:

2006 – Joe Thornton (Boston/San Jose)
2007 – Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh)
2008 – Alex Ovechkin (Washington)
2009 – Alex Ovechkin (Washington)
2010 – Henrik Sedin (Vancouver)
2011 – Corey Perry (Anaheim)

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.