Playoffs Tonight: Senators confident they can beat Penguins

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The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings were dominate in their own building during the regular season, so it’s not surprising that the home team has won every game of their second-round series. With their series now essentially a best-of-three, the onus is on the Sharks to win at least one playoff contest at the Staples Center.

In the meantime though…

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

The Senators certainly lived up to their “pesky” label in Game 3. Pittsburgh nearly went up 3-0 in the series, but a shorthanded goal from Daniel Alfredsson with just 29 seconds left in regulation time tied the contest at 1. Colin Greening then netted the deciding goal for Ottawa at 7:39 of the second overtime period.

“We find ways — they aren’t always pretty — but we find ways to win,” Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson told the Ottawa Citizen.

Now they have to find a way to do it again.

Alfredsson’s dramatic goal was only relevant because, for the first time in this series, the Senators found a way to contain the Penguins’ skilled forwards.

Sidney Crosby, who had a hat trick in Game 2, was held to just three shots on goal despite logging 33:08 minutes of ice time. Evgeni Malkin had 10 shots on goal, but Anderson consistently denied him to end Malkin’s nine-game points streak.

It will be interesting to see if Crosby and Malkin are both held off the scoresheet for a second straight game, but perhaps the bigger x-factor is James Neal. The 25-year-old forward has 61 goals in his last 120 regular season games, but he has just one goal and three points in the 2013 postseason. If he can get hot now, it would take some of the burden off of Malkin and Crosby going forward.

Meanwhile, the Senators are entering this game with a lot of confidence.

“You have to believe you belong here,” said defenseman Marc Methot. “Otherwise, what the hell are you doing? I can’t stress enough that guys in this room do believe that we can win. We just knocked off the second seed (the Montreal Canadiens) in the first round.”

Blues reportedly avoid arbitration with Parayko by inking him to five-year, $27.5 million contract

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The St. Louis Blues and Colton Parayko were scheduled to have an arbitration hearing this morning, but it sounds like that will no longer be necessary.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the two sides have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension worth a total of $27.5 million ($5.5 million AAV).

Heading into arbitration, Parayko was reportedly looking for a one-year deal worth$4.85 million, while St. Louis was offering two years at $7 million total.

Obviously, the Blues paid a little more on this contract, but that’s because they were able to “buy” some of Parayko’s free-agent years.

The 24-year-old just completed his second season with the Blues. He managed to four goals, 35 points and 32 penalty minutes in 81 games.

Parayko also saw his average ice-time increase from his first year to his second year, as he played just over 21 minutes per game in 2016-17.

On top of his two solid seasons in St. Louis, he also opened some eyes at this year’s World Hockey Championship, where he had three goals and seven points in six games for Team Canada. He averaged 24 minutes of ice-time during the tournament, and Canada went on to win silver.

Nolan Patrick is dealing with ‘an infection in his face’

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Nolan Patrick just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to staying healthy.

Patrick was scheduled to skate at the Flyers’ practice facility on Thursday morning, but the team announced that he would be unable to do so because of an infection in his face.

Patrick missed a good chunk of games during the 2016-17 WHL season because of sports hernia surgery, but that didn’t stop the Philadelphia from making him the second overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

The Flyers recently announced that he had undergone a second similar procedure right before the draft, which kept him out of their development camp earlier this month.

Earlier this week, the 18-year-old signed his three-year, entry-level contract with his new team.

Of course, GM Ron Hextall would love for his prized rookie to crack the opening night roster, but he needs to show he can stay healthy before that happens.

Related:

Nolan Patrick thinks he can make immediate NHL jump with Flyers

Nolan Patrick dealt with two hernias

PHT Morning Skate: On how Jacques Plante ‘revolutionized’ hockey

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Brian Campbell may have spoken to teams about continuing his career, but he didn’t start negotiating with any of them because he knew he wasn’t willing to continue playing. “I’ve been thinking about [retirement] for a while. At the end of the season, I didn’t know if I was ready to do it anymore. So that was only fair. But I will say July 1 was tough, a tough day. There’ve been some tough days. But I think we’re happy with our decision.” (CSN Chicago)

–The Hockey Writers ranked each team’s farm system from 1 to 31. Interestingly enough, the Vegas Golden Knights don’t have the worst system in the league. That honor belongs to the San Jose Sharks. The number one team on the list is the Philadelphia Flyers. (The Hockey Writers)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been with the Oilers for six years now, but he still hasn’t established himself as one of the dominant forces on the team. Per the Edmonton Journal, he could be skating on thin ice. “With Draisaitl likely to be paid next season and McDavid already signed to big money the following campaign, the cap budget at centre is tight. Whether Nugent-Hopkins stays or goes in the longer term, he needs a major bounceback next season to prove his worth.” (Edmonton Journal)

–On Nov. 1, 1959, Jacques Plante revolutionized the game of hockey by putting on a goalie mask for the first time. NHL.com contributor Stan Fischler wrote: “The legacy of Plante’s decision is evident in today’s game. Not only are all goaltenders required to wear a mask, but teams must dress two goalies for every game. And when a goalie’s mask comes off during a game, the whistle is blown and play is stopped.” It’s a remarkable story. (NHL.com)

–It’s always fun to think about how teams over in Europe would do against an NHL team. With the help of a couple of Russian hockey journalists, The Score put together a KHL all-star team, and asked fans to vote on where they think that team would finish in the NHL. Most people feel like the KHL all-stars would finish somewhere between 17th and 29th in the NHL. (The Score)

Justin Williams signed a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, which means he had to move out of Washington. Some of his valuables got a little more attention than others:

Teammates, friends were glad to see Okposo back on the ice

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From the sound of things, Kyle Okposo‘s presence at “Da Beauty League” was a beautiful sight for Buffalo Sabres teammates, former teammates on the New York Islanders, and friends around the NHL.

NHL.com’s Jessi Pierce was at that informal game, which apparently didn’t go well for Okposo’s team.

That’s not the important part, certainly not in July. While Pierce noted that Okposo wasn’t comfortable answering questions during his first on-ice action in almost four months, it sounds like the talented winger was looking good on Wednesday night.

Onlookers agreed with that sentiment, and also seconded the notion that he’s been doing well this summer, overall.

“Obviously seeing a teammate go through something like that and struggle to get healthy is tough,” Sabres teammate Hudson Fasching said, via Pierce’s piece for NHL.com. “He’s such a good guy and going through a lot with that whole deal, trying to figure out what was wrong.

“I’m just happy he’s healthy and happy for him to get back.”

It was already noted that Okposo is expected to be ready for Sabres training camp, yet nights like these make it clearer that he’s likely on course. That’s a fantastic turnaround from his health scare in April.

Pierce also has more here.