Sedin feeling ‘good’ after scoring first goal of 2014

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SOCHI, Russia — Daniel Sedin buried the puck into the gaping Slovenian net, and then he fell to the ice.

Quite possibly, he fell in relief. Because for the former NHL scoring champ, that third-period tally — off a perfect pass from Loui Eriksson — was his first of the Olympics, and his first of any kind since Dec. 30, when he scored for his Vancouver Canucks against the Flyers.

“Yeah, it felt good,” said Sedin. “Two-nothing, too. As long as the game was 1-0, they’re right there, so it was a big goal for us.”

A big goal. And a long wait to get it. Counting the Olympics, Sedin had gone 22 games without bulging the twine, something he did 41 times when he won the Art Ross Trophy in 2010-11.

That said, he didn’t think the extended slump had affected his confidence.

“I’ve been playing for a long time,” he said. “You can’t change your game just because you haven’t scored.”

He also still thinks Sweden has room for improvement, even after shutting out Slovenia, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.

“It was better tonight. Still, it can get even better than this,” he said. “The opponents are going to be tougher the next two games, so we have to be ready and really bear down defensively.”

In Friday’s semis, the Swedes will either face their geographical rivals from Finland, or the host Russians.

“Finland’s looked really good. They play us as tight as anyone in this tournament,” Sedin said. “And Russia, we know what they can do up front, so it’s going to be tough either way.”

As for his twin brother, Henrik, who was forced to miss the Olympics with a rib injury, Daniel says they’ve spoken a few times during the Games.

According to Daniel, Henrik is hoping to be back playing for the Canucks once the Olympics are over.

“He hopes so, but we’ll see,” he said. “It’ll be close.”

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.

Coach Q thinks Anisimov will be back by playoffs for Blackhawks

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The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.

The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:

The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.

Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.

Ducks demote Enroth, so Gibson’s close to a return

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The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.

(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)

While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.

Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?

Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.

He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.

(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.

While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.

With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.