Nathan MacKinnon scores OT winner, Avalanche take 3-2 series lead

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How quickly things can change in hockey, especially in these Stanley Cup playoffs. It seems no lead has really been safe, and there was evidence of that Saturday.

The Colorado Avalanche entered the third period of Game 5 against the Minnesota Wild with a one-goal lead and a chance to retake the series lead. In less than two minutes, the Avalanche went from in the lead to chasing the Wild.

Then came P.A. Parenteau and his controversial tying goal in the final minute to send the game to overtime, followed by 18-year-old rookie Nathan MacKinnon’s winner early in the extra frame.

So after an up-and-down roller coaster ride in Denver, the Avalanche came away with a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory. Colorado does, at the end of the night, come away with a 3-2 series lead, as well.

Zach Parise scored on a perfect wrist shot to tie the game at 2-2 early in the third period, and Kyle Brodziak wired a slap shot past Semyon Varlamov shortly after to give Minnesota the lead. Two Wild goals in 1:51.

Twice in this game, the Avalanche were able to gain the lead. Cody McLeod scored short-handed to open the scoring for Colorado in the second period, his goal the result of a rare Ryan Suter mistake and turnover in the neutral zone. But the Wild came right back 1:13 later on Matt Moulson’s first goal of these playoffs.

The chances of a Colorado comeback were hindered late in the third period by a Gabriel Landeskog unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty for giving Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper a snow-shower after the whistle.

Head coach Patrick Roy pulled Varlamov for the extra skater with about 2:25 remaining in regulation. His bold move, and we’ve become used to these, paid off with the Parenteau equalizer.

Home ice has been a major advantage in this series. Neither team has been able to win on the road.

The Wild won both games in Minnesota, and if that trend continues, it will mean this series gets extended to a seventh and deciding game. But, after tonight’s game, who knows what will happen?

Stanley Cup Final odds: Penguins open as favorites over Predators

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The 2017 Stanley Cup Final is set with the Pittsburgh Penguins, continuing their quest to repeat as champions, facing the Nashville Predators.

Both teams come in missing some key players (Kris Letang, Pittsburgh; Ryan Johansen, Nashville) but both still have plenty of star player with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg and the rest of Nashville’s defense headlining the series.

According to the folks at Bovada, the Penguins open the series as favorites to win it over the Predators.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals Series Price
Nashville Predators +135 (27/20)
Pittsburgh Penguins -155 (20/31)

The series begins on Monday night in Pittsburgh.

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2017 Stanley Cup Final Schedule: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators

Canucks sign free agent defenseman Philip Holm to one-year deal

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The Vancouver Canucks announced on Friday that they have signed free agent defenseman Philip Holm to a one-year, entry-level contract.

Before signing with the Canucks Holm had been rumored to be on the verge of joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that obviously did not come together.

“Philip is a mobile, two-way defenseman who adds depth to our blue line,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning in a statement released by the team. “He made strides in his development last season with Vaxjo and played a strong series with Sweden at the World Championships We’re pleased to welcome him to the Canucks organization.”

The 25-year-old Holm has spent the past seven seasons playing professionally in Sweden for Vaxjo HC and Djurgardens IF.

He is regarded as a smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman and had a pretty strong season for Vaxjo this past year, scoring four goals and adding 17 assists in 52 games. He was the top-scoring defenseman on the team.

He also had three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games for Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships. Sweden won the Gold Medal at the tournament by defeating Canada in the championship game.

The Canucks already have six defensemen under contract for 2017-18 (and they do not seem to be in a hurry to trade any of them) but it was a unit that clearly needs an upgrade, so Holm should be an opportunity to make an impact next season.

Sabres fire AHL coach Dan Lambert

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The Buffalo Sabres continued to overhaul their organization under new general manager Jason Botterill on Friday when they announced that Dan Lambert, the coach of the Rochester Americans, their AHL affiliate, has been relieved of his duties.

“I would like to thank Dan for his hard work and contributions to our organization during the last two seasons and I wish him the best in the future,” said Botterill in a statement released by the team.

“I felt this was the right move for both the Sabres and Amerks and we will begin the process of searching for a new head coach immediately.”

The 2016-17 season was Lambert’s only season as the head coach. The team ended up finishing with a 32-41-3 mark.

When he was hired by the Sabres Botterill talked about wanting to improve the team in Rochester and this appears to be the first step in that process. The entire Sabres organization took a pretty significant step backwards this season with the NHL team finishing with a worse record than it did a year ago. That resulted in general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma all being replaced.

The Sabres have yet to hire a replacement for Bylsma.

Now both of the top teams in the organization are in need of a new head coach.

Report: KHL team in talks with Capitals’ Orlov

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After losing in the second-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs again and entering an offseason where they have several free agents, it is expected that the Washington Capitals roster is going to be look very, very different next season.

One of those upcoming free agents already seems to be drawing some interest, and not from an NHL team.

According to a report from Sport-Express’ Igor Eronko, the KHL’s CSKA Moscow is in talks with defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

Orlov, who turns 26 in July, is slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason. He has played in every game for the Capitals the past two seasons and has emerged as a solid defenseman on the team’s blue line. He has posted pretty dominant possession numbers the past two seasons and has tallied 29 and 33 points during that stretch. He played nearly 20 minutes per game for the Capitals this season and should be in line for a pretty significant pay raise.

Along with the Orlov news, the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan mentioned on Twitter that another KHL team may also be in talks with restricted free agent Evgeny Kuznetsov, though she downplayed the possibility of him leaving. Given that Kuznetsov is one of the top offensive players in the league that would certainly be a shocking move, but it still seems like a long-shot to think that he would leave the NHL.