Leafs have ‘grown’ since Game 1, says Phaneuf

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It seems like a long time has passed since the Maple Leafs were getting run out of TD Garden in Game 1 of their series with the Bruins.

To refresh your memory…

In reality, Game 1 was less than two weeks ago.

“We just self-destructed,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said after his side lost, 4-1, and got outshot, 40-20. “We didn’t do a lot of things right. I’ve never seen so many people fall down with nobody around them with situations with our group. Like we said, we know this going to take more than an ordinary effort, and tonight it wasn’t good enough effort.”

After Game 1, not many observers expected a long series. But the Leafs have since forced Game 7, back in Boston tonight.

For checking forward Jay McClement, the change in the Toronto team that started the playoffs, versus the one now, has been dramatic.

“We’ve learned on the fly here, for sure, but you can see the difference in our composure in Game 1 to now,” McClement said, per TSN’s Mark Masters.

“We’ve grown as a group,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf added, per ESPN.

Meanwhile, the Bruins — with just two goals in their last two games — are the ones sounding unsure of themselves.

“The bottom line is that we need to find a way to get the puck to go in,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Being frustrated right now isn’t going to help. It’s about being determined to find ways to put it in, and it’s all about [Game 7] now.”

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.