Joe Pavelski

Discuss: Sharks beat Canucks, can sweep Tuesday

28 Comments

The brooms will be out Tuesday in San Jose after the Sharks blew out the Canucks, 5-2, Sunday at HP Pavilion.

San Jose now leads the first-round series, 3-0, and will try not to look past Vancouver before finishing the job in Game 4.

For the Canucks, it’s almost eery how similar the 2013 playoffs have been to last year, when they went out in five to the Kings in the first round. In both series, goalie Roberto Luongo got the start in the first two games — at home against a lower seed — and lost twice. Also in both series, Cory Schneider came in for Game 3 on the road, but couldn’t turn the tide.

Granted, like last year, goaltending hasn’t been the biggest issue for Vancouver. The Canucks just can’t score anymore.

Some discussion points:

—- Fun fact for Sharks fans: the last three teams to beat the Canucks in the playoffs won the Stanley Cup.

—- Fun fact II for Sharks fans: Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored twice in nine seconds in the third period, but it wasn’t the fastest two goals in San Jose playoff history. The club record is eight seconds, by John MacLean and Ron Sutter in 1998.

— Not only did Couture finish with two goals and two assists, he was practically unbeatable in the faceoff circle.

—- Is Joe Pavelski the best third-line center in the NHL right now? They used to say that about Jordan Staal when he was in Pittsburgh, but then he was traded to Carolina. Pavelski had San Jose’s first two goals in Game 3, both on neat redirects.

—- Schneider was pulled after allowing five goals, including three in the opening minutes of the third period. Who will get the nod for the Canucks on Tuesday? Does it even matter?

—- Is there any way head coach Alain Vigneault keeps his job if the Canucks lose to San Jose, which it appears they will? If he’s fired, would it be the right call, or is it general manager Mike Gillis who deserves the blame for the team’s failings the past two years? Is a major roster shakeup required, or do they give it one more year with the current group? The Sedins have one more year remaining on their contracts before they can become unrestricted free agents.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

 

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

1 Comment

Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

7 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

18 Comments

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

11 Comments

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.