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Discuss: Penguins knock off the Senators in Game 5, headed to conference final

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are on to the Eastern Conference final, and they appear to have found their stride in this second round.

The Penguins knocked off the Ottawa Senators by a final score of 6-2 on Friday night, closing out the Eastern Conference semifinal in five games.

Here are some talking points.

  • The Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2009, when they won the Stanley Cup. Just saying.
  • Is this the final National Hockey League game for Daniel Alfredsson? The Senators’ captain is 40 years of age and a pending unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • If this is Alfredsson’s last game, let’s have a look at the numbers: regular season games played (1,178); goals (426); assists (682); points (1,108). Impressive.
  • Adding salt to the wound, James Neal scored the hat trick goal to put Pittsburgh up 6-2 in the third period. And it was a beauty, with the toe-drag around Erik Karlsson. He now has five goals in his last two games.
  • The Penguins, in the final two games of this series, scored 13 times.
  • In 2009, when the Penguins won the Cup, they did not win a single series on home ice. In 2013, in the second round, they put an end to the Senators’ season at home.
  • Former teammates with the Florida Panthers, Tomas Vokoun outplayed Craig Anderson between the pipes in this series.
  • Who is next? The New York Rangers or Boston Bruins? It’s looking like the Bruins.
  • Canada’s lone remaining NHL team is out. Who do Canadians cheer for now?

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.