Jets ink Montoya, Flames sign Aliu, Byron

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A few minor signings to pass your way…

Jets ink Montoya

Winnipeg has found its backup for Ondrej Pavelec, signing former Islanders goalie Al Montoya to a one-year, $601,000 deal.

Montoya, 26, appeared in 31 games for New York last season, posting a 9-11-5 record with a .893 save percentage and 3.10 GAA.

It once looked as though the former sixth overall pick would never get his career on track — the 2010-11 season, that is. An injury to Rick DiPietro and the Dwayne Roloson-to-Tampa trade opened the door for Montoya to appear in 20 games, and he made the most of his opportunity by posting a 9-5-5 record with a .921 save percentage and 2.39 GAA.

Flames sign pair

Calgary continued to be busy this offseason by inking Akim Aliu and Paul Byron to one-year, two-way deals.

Aliu, 23, will be paid $695,000 at the NHL level next season, $105,000 at the AHL level. He made his NHL debut with the Flames last year and shined in a limited body of work — two games, two goals, one assist, 12 penalty minutes and a plus-3 rating.

“Akim made tremendous strides in getting his career development path back on track this past season in Abbotsford and he was rewarded for his hard work by receiving an end-of-season recall to Calgary,” said Flames General Manager Jay Feaster. “In his two games with our Club he showed that he is a very good skater, is willing to play a strong physical game and can also score goals at the NHL level.”

Byron, also 23, appeared in 22 games with Calgary last season scoring 3G-2A-5PTS. He came to the Flames as part of the Robyn Regehr-Chris Butler trade and split time between the NHL and AHL Abbotsford last year. He’ll make $585,000 at the NHL level next season, $105,000 at the AHL.

“Paul was a very valuable depth player for us last season and had a solid playoff-run with Abbotsford,” Feaster said. “Paul looked right at home during his various recalls to Calgary and he demonstrated that he can score goals at the NHL level.”

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

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Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

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The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.