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Diamond D: Canada’s blueline ‘what we’ve relied on the whole tournament’

In the case of Canada at the Sochi Olympics, the best offense is a good defense.

Sunday’s 2-1 OT win over Finland was the latest example of this trend, as Drew Doughty scored both Canadian markers to move into the team goalscoring lead and draw even with Phil Kessel for second-most (four) in the tournament. Doughty’s first goal was assisted by Shea Weber, who now has four points in three games; all told, the defense has combined to score six of Canada’s 11 goals and 11 of the team’s 29 points.

“It’s been what we’ve relied on the whole tournament so far,” John Tavares said after the Finland game. “The first three games, they’ve carried the offense for us.”

While impressive, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Depth of talent set Canada apart from other nations when Olympic rosters were announced in early January; the Canadian blueline was loaded to the point where the reigning Norris winner, P.K. Subban, was a bubble selection (and he’s only dressed once in the three games).

The Canadian defense also expects plenty from itself. Case in point: Doughty felt he actually played poorly in the tournament-opening win over Norway, which he finished with a goal and an assist.

“My first game, I thought I struggled a little bit especially in the first period, but ever since then, I’ve been comfortable,” he said, per the Olympic News Service. “I’m ready to go. I’m used to the ice sheet. I’m used to playing with these guys. I’m just excited now. I forget about everything that’s going on around me and I’m just focused on my game and having fun.”

These contributions are vitally important, especially  given how Canada’s opponents tend to play. Finland did all it could to keep the Canadian forwards to the perimeter on Sunday, packing the middle of the ice — a strategy which opens up avenues/lanes for defensemen to make something happen. It’s soemthing Canada figures it’ll see more of it as the tournament progresses.

For Doughty and company, that’s just fine. He says the defense needs to keep penetrating the opposition.

“That’s what we’ve got to do, especially when they’re just sitting back like that,” Doughty said, per ONS. “We have to make sure we have speed because a lot of times, our forwards are going to be stopped up at the far blue line.

“As much as we can jump in and help out the guys on offense, that’s what we need to do.”

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for today

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After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:

St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)

If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)

The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.

Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning: