PHT Morning Skate: Bruins aim to bounce back vs. Red Wings

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We had two more overtime games yesterday with the St. Louis Blues once again edging Chicago to put the defending champions just two losses away from elimination. Meanwhile, Columbus rallied back from a 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh to earn a 4-3 overtime win. That victory was the first in the history of the Blue Jackets’ franchise and evened their series at 1-1.

Game 2: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers [New York leads series 1-0] (12:00 p.m. ET, NBC)

The Rangers are on a nine game winning streak over Philadelphia in games played at Madison Square Garden. That’s obviously a trend the Flyers need to end if they are to win this series.

Philadelphia’s Andrew MacDonald scored early in the first period of Game 1, but the 1-0 lead lasted just 3:25 minutes before Mats Zuccarello evened the score. The Flyers held their own in the second before falling apart in the third frame. They were out shot 13-1 in the final 20 minutes, which allowed the Rangers to come away with a 4-1 victory.

Flyers backup goaltender Ray Emery started in that contest and he’ll be back in between the pipes today as Steve Mason is still dealing with an upper-body injury.

Game 2: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins [Detroit leads series 1-0] (3:00 p.m. ET, NBC)

The first game of this series was a goaltending duel between Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Boston’s Tuukka Rask. Both netminders managed some impressive saves along the way and it took a sleek move by Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk to break the scoreless tie with 3:01 remaining in the third period.

Boston went into Game 1 as the heavy favorites after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, but the Red Wings are a far better team than their record implies. They have already robbed the Bruins of their home-ice advantage and can really put them against the ropes by taking a 2-0 series lead before this heads back to Detroit.

That being said, the Bruins can’t be dismissed just because they narrowly lost one game. They got this far with a deep squad led by the likes of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Jarome Iginla, and Zdeno Chara. They are more than capable of bouncing back from a 1-0 deficit.

Game 3: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 2-0] (7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Starting goaltender Ben Bishop is one of the main reasons the Lightning made the playoffs and with him injured, the team seems to be falling apart. Netminder Anders Lindback isn’t solely responsible for the position Tampa Bay is in, but in a sign of how desperate things have gotten, Tampa Bay asked Kristers Gudlevskis to play between the pipes late in the third period of Game 2.

Gudlevskis stood out in the Olympics while playing for Latvia, but the 21-year-old netminder had participated in just one NHL contest prior to this playoff run. In fact, he has only been in 45 minor league games — 11 of them in the ECHL — since being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper insisted that there is no goaltending controversy, but it remains to be seen who will start tonight. Either way, at this point Tampa Bay is facing long odds against the Carey Price-led team. Which, actually, is something that Gudlevskis does have some experience with.

Game 2: Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks [San Jose leads series 1-0] (10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

The first 40 minutes of this series couldn’t have gone much worse for the Kings. They were “sloppy” and goaltender Jonathan Quick left plenty to be desired.

San Jose, showing off its scoring depth, had goals from five different players going into the third period, but the Kings battled back from the 5-0 deficit. The Sharks still ended up with a commanding 6-3 victory, but Los Angeles will try to carry some of the momentum from its late surge into this contest.

Quick will be the guy to watch in this one. Kings coach Darryl Sutter clearly wasn’t happy with his netminder’s performance, but Quick is typically a very effective playoff goaltender. Will he shake off his rough start or have the Sharks finally figured him out?

The Buzzer: McDavid dominates; Fleury’s unlucky return

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Player Of The Night: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have at least started to show some signs of life in recent games. They were shutout on Sunday night in Toronto, but sandwiched around that game were a convincing 6-2 win in Montreal and then a thoroughly dominating 7-2 win in Columbus on Tuesday night that left Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella completely speechless.

Leading the way for the Oilers was captain Connor McDavid as he went off with a four-point night.

The four points are a season high for him and the fifth time this season he has recorded at least three points.

That performance gives him 39 points in 31 games on the season and currently has him third in the NHL scoring race, three points behind Tampa Bay Lightning teammates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

Marc-Andre Fleury Probably Deserved Better In His Return To The Lineup

Marc-Andre Fleury made is return to the Vegas Golden Knights net and looked great, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced. Unfortunately that was not enough to get Vegas a win as they fell in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2.

One of those two shots in regulation that beat him? It was this.

That is unfortunate.

Still, that is another point for Vegas as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference during their inaugural season in the NHL.

Highlight Of The Night

The Philadelphia Flyers were 4-2 winners over the Toronto Maple Leafs and have now, suddenly, won four games in a row following a 10-game losing streak.

They picked up the winner on Tuesday thanks to this goal that featured a crazy between-the-legs pass.

Highlight Of The Night Part Two

Now let us take a look at Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames. This came in a losing effort in the shootout but this is still a slick move. Maybe illegal? Either way, it counted.

Factoid(s) Of The Night

— By stopping all 32 shots he faced against the St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 20th win of the season. He is just the sixth goalie in NHL history to win at least 20 games within his first 25 starts of a season. [NHL Public Relations]

Matt Cullen scored his 250th career goal in the Minnesota Wild’s 2-1 shootout win over the Calgary Flames, making him the 29th American-born player in NHL history to reach that mark. [Minnesota Wild PR]

— Carolina Hurricanes goalies Cam Ward recorded his 300th career win on Tuesday night in their 3-2 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights. He is the fifth active goaltender to reach that mark. [NHL Public Relations]

Scores

Buffalo Sabres 3, Ottawa Senators 2

New Jersey Devils 5, Los Angeles Kings 1

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

Washington Capitals 5, Colorado Avalanche 2

Edmonton Oilers 7, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, St. Louis Blues 0

Minnesota Wild 2, Calgary Flames 1

Chicago Blackhawks 3, Florida Panthers 2

Carolina Hurricanes 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Vasilevskiy shines again as Lightning take top spot in NHL

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Tuesday’s game in St. Louis was a showdown featuring the top two teams in the NHL.

In the end it was the Lightning picking up the 3-0 win to extend their current winning streak to five games and to reclaim sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NHL.

Their win improves them to 22-6-2 on the season and puts them two points ahead of the Blues despite having played two fewer games.

It was another impressive showing for Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the underrated stars of this year’s Lightning team. Most of the attention has been directed to forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (and deservedly so!) but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Vasilevskiy, in his first full season as the Lighting’s full-time starter, has been one of the best goalies in the league so far.

Tuesday’s game was his third shutout of the season, and after his 32-save performance against the Blues his .933 save percentage is among the best in the NHL, while his 20 wins (in only 25 starts) are tops in the league. Nobody else in the league has more than 17.

While Vasilevskiy was shining in net again, Kucherov scored his 21st goal of the season to move back into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the league. It was also his 42nd point which moved him into a tie with Stamkos for the league lead.

Brayden Point also continued his breakout season by opening the scoring with his 13th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Tyler Johnson‘s third period goal.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

John Tortorella had no time for questions after blowout loss (Video)

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Since being hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets John Tortorella has seemed to be a kinder, gentler coach.

The blow ups and battles with the media don’t seem to happen as much. We don’t get as many rants.

He just does not seem as angry all the time.

Losing 7-2 at home to the Edmonton Oilers, however, might change a few things.

That it was happened to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night and Tortorella was in no mood to answer question about the game.

His press conference consisted of him stepping to the podium, saying there is no point in answering questions about the game, then leaving.

Here it is in all of its glory.

The only question we have: Is this shorter than the night he said the New York Rangers “sucked from head to toe?”

(Oddly enough, that game was also against the Edmonton Oilers).

That press conference lasted, roughly, 14 seconds from the time he started talking until the time he walked away (and also included the line “I know you have a job to do”).

Tonight’s comes in at just around 12 seconds. So we might have a record for the shortest John Tortorella press conference of all time.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and Philadelphia from 1987 to 2000.

He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

“We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family,” Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

“This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family.”

Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League’s Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.