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?

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.