Jared Cowen #2 of the Ottawa Senators at American Airlines Center on December 1, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.
(November 30, 2011 - Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)

Agent: ‘Nothing really to report’ on new deal between Sens, Cowen

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There hasn’t been much in the way of negotiations between Ottawa and restricted free agent defenseman Jared Cowen.

But, according to Cowen’s agent, that’s by design.

“(The Senators) went through free agency, and they had a lot of things going on,” Octagon Sports’ Rick Valette told the Ottawa Citizen. “We agreed early in July that we’d wait for a week or three and let things settle out.

“We have talked a couple of times, and we are going to move the process along now.”

Cowen, 22, just wrapped the final year of his three-year, $3.975 million entry level deal, during which he emerged as key top-four defenseman for the Sens.

He also showed great resolve in 2013, recovering from what was thought to be a season-ending shoulder injury to appear in seven games down the stretch, and all 10 of Ottawa’s postseason contests.

Cowen was initially hurt on Oct. 19 while playing for AHL Binghamton. The injury was initially diagnosed as minor but, after missing seven straight games and showing no signs of improvement, the decision was made for him to go under the knife — a procedure that was supposed to finish his season.

At the time, it was a huge blow for the Senators.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound rearguard played all 82 games in 2011-12 — his rookie campaign — scoring 5G-12A-17PTS. He led all Sens defensemen in hits during the regular season, then upped the ante in a seven-game playoff loss to the Rangers, leading all skaters with 28 hits.

Now, with veteran Sergei Gonchar gone to Dallas and journeyman Joe Corvo brought in on a one-year deal, it’s clear Ottawa is counting on Cowen for the long term.

Asked to classify the talks with Sens GM Bryan Murray, Valette said “it’s fine.”

“Nothing really to report at this time,” he explained, “oher than to say that there are different options that we can look at.”

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.