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

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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.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

 

Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.