Bruins to offer Rask contract extension during season

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Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has confirmed he will begin contract extension talks with goalie Tuukka Rask during the regular season.

“Breaching my own policy [of not discussing contracts], we will bring up talks with Tuukka at some point in this season, in hoping to extend him,” Chiarelli told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I know the perception looks like one follows the other and I was waiting to pull the trigger based on a great game by Tuukka.

“We’ve been pretty open with Tuukka and Tim as far as when we would see them ending up, I call it a succession plan.”

The perception Chiarelli alludes to is that, in the last 48 hours, the Bruins watched Rask perform beautifully in a victory over Montreal, then traded Tim Thomas — well, Tim Thomas’ contract — to the New York Islanders.

As for the succession plan, it’s this: Rask signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract last June as a sort “prove it” deal, one where he would assume the starting role and assure Boston brass he could replace Thomas as the bonafide No. 1.

Thus far, he’s done exactly that.

Rask ranks near the top of most statistical categories with his 6-1-1 record, 1.96 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.

The question now, of course, is what kind of money he’ll get with his extension.

Here’s more, from Haggerty:

The guess is that Rask’s final contract extension will reside somewhere in a range between the recent deals procured for Ondrej Pavelec (5 years and $19.5 million) and Carey Price (6 years and $39.5 million) with his ultimate performance over the course of this season filling out the numbers.

It’s a wide range to be sure, but Rask is expected to come up in the middle ($5 million per season) of those deals if he can maintain his high level of play as a No. 1 goaltender for Boston this season.

Rask, 25, could gun for an extension similar to the one Carolina’s Cam Ward signed when he was 25 — a six-year, $37.8 million deal after making $3.5 million as a RFA.

But it would be a tough sell, especially since Ward backstopped the ‘Canes to a Stanley Cup and had a Conn Smythe trophy on his resume.

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.

Another big goal from Malkin; another confusing goalie interference review

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The Ottawa Senators are ready for a fight in Game 6, which seemingly means that the Pittsburgh Penguins must grind for space and chances. So far, the Penguins are willing to do just that.

Being that this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it also means that you need to shrug off setbacks … and the Penguins are doing well in that area, too.

After a 0-0 first period, it seemed like Trevor Daley scored a “greasy” 1-0 goal, but after a review, it was dismissed because of goalie interference. The crowd’s silent, confused response mirrored many on social media who genuinely don’t know what is or is not interference any longer.

The Penguins could have sulked after that near-goal. Instead, they just kept chipping away. Evgeni Malkin finally broke the ice – for real – with a gritty 1-0 tally. You can watch that ugly-pretty effort in the video above this post’s headline.

This marks Malkin’s seventh goal and 24th point of the postseason. No one else has reached 20 yet.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6