PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 14: Tomas Vokoun #92 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 14, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Senators 4-1. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: ‘Pesky’ Sens fight to even series vs Pens


We’re entering Day 4 of the second round and so far the home team has won every single contest. The Ottawa Senators will see if they can become the first team to disrupt that trend.

Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins host Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Pittsburgh leads series 1-0

Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun turned aside 35 shots and Pittsburgh was 2-for-4 on the power play in Game 1. Those are two of the reasons they cruised to a 4-1 victory against the Senators.

The Senators relative youth and inexperience might have also been a significant factor.

“If we had any kind of stage fright or youthful jitters, that should be behind us and now it’s up to us to make it a series,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said.

The Senators are the clear underdogs, but that’s a role they’ve often found themselves in this year and Ottawa has thrived all the same.

“We don’t have too many known guys,” Senators forward Erik Condra said told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But every night there’s somebody else that steps up, and that’s what’s been great about us.”

On the other side of the ice, the big story is Vokoun. He now has a 1.28 GAA and .962 save percentage in three playoff starts. The 36-year-old didn’t have much postseason experience going into this year, but he’s making up for lost time.

“You look at it like, I’ve been sitting for years watching playoff hockey on my couch and I had no chance,” Vokoun said, according to the Ottawa Citizen. “And sometimes it’s better to fail and be there than to never be there at all. I want to do well, I want my family and my friends to see me do well.

“But nervous and being tight because if we lose it’s the end of the world? I don’t feel that pressure here.”

If Vokoun keeps this up, then the “pesky” Senators will have a very hard time producing anymore surprises.

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings face Lightning in ’15 playoff rematch

Steven Stamkos, Henrik Zetterberg
AP Photo

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.

The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.

Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.

After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.

Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.

As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.

The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist argues McDavid’s already NHL’s most important player

Connor McDavid
AP Photo

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)

While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)

Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)

Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)

The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)

The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)