John Tortorella

Tortorella: ‘Don’t give me any [expletive]’ about Gaborik relationship

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Rangers head coach John Tortorella isn’t happy about how his relationship with Marian Gaborik is being portrayed.

On Tuesday, he decided to address the issue.

“Don’t give me any [expletive] about my relationship with Gabby,” he told reporters at the end of his media availability. “Because it’s wrong and unfair to both of us.”

This latest rant stems from the trade that sent Gaborik to Columbus in exchange for Derick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett.

Tortorella’s upset his endorsement of the deal is being portrayed as a shot at Gaborik:

Gaborik was slumping at the time of the deal — just nine goals in 35 games with a minus-8 rating — and seemed to be at odds with his head coach.

Of course, acrimony between Gaborik and Tortorella was nothing new.

From the New York Times:

Gaborik was often benched by Coach John Tortorella or relegated to the third line. He and Tortorella had an up-and-down relationship, with Tortorella expressing deep frustration with Gaborik or praising him lavishly.

Soon after joining the Rangers during the 2008-9 season, Tortorella lobbied to sign Gaborik as a free agent. Glen Sather, the club’s president and general manager, accomplished that before the 2009-10 season.

But last season, with the Rangers trailing by a goal during the third period of Game 2 of the conference finals against the Devils, Tortorella benched Gaborik for making a defensive error.

“On the second goal, I didn’t get the puck out, I guess,” Gaborik said. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.”

The move to Columbus seemed to invigorate Gaborik, further fueling speculation he was unhappy under Torts. The Slovak sniper had eight points in 12 games with the Blue Jackets, posting a plus-five rating.

That said, Tortorella has stated on numerous occasions that he not only respected and liked Gaborik, but that he would miss him as well.

“Gabby and I have a great relationship,” he told NHL.com. “It’s a really good one, no matter what’s gone on with him. He’s a good man. And I’ll miss him.

“I’ll tell you right now – I’ll miss him.”

In a related story, the Rangers will open the playoffs on Thursday against the Capitals.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.

Judge for yourself: Was Drouin’s would-be 1-0 goal offside?

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To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.

The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.

As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.

Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.

The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)