Heading into Game 3, the big question was if a lack of rest would doom the New York Rangers. Instead, it came down to their inability to beat Marc-Andre Fleury — the Pittsburgh netminder posted a second consecutive shutout for a 2-0 Penguins win, and 2-1 series lead.
“Score effects” might account for some of the story (at least in the third period), but the shot totals would almost argue that the Rangers were the team with more lift in their legs. They carried a 35-15 shot advantage, yet they simply couldn’t solve “The Flower” tonight.
OK, the 29-year-old goalie got a little lucky at times, but there’s no denying his brilliance in Game 3:
In the process, Fleury pulled off a rare feat:
The Penguins’ offense was pretty quiet but took advantage of two breakaway opportunities as Sidney Crosby finally broke through and Jussi Jokinen scored the 2-0 insurance goal.
While the unit created plenty of opportunities, the Rangers’ power play still remains a conundrum. They’ve now gone eight straight playoff games without a goal and find themselves mired in an 0-for-34 slump.
The Rangers have to feel a little bit of grief in losing despite an impressive team performance in Game 3 and great work from Henrik Lundqvist in Game 2. (It’s difficult to beat up Lundqvist too much for allowing two breakaway goals tonight, either.)
Despite seeing a 1-0 series lead switch to a 2-1 deficit in two nights, the Rangers can at least hang their hats on a nice performance and will get the usual amount of rest with Game 4 on Wednesday.
That optimism will dim considerably if they can’t tie the series then, though.
After establishing himself in the Swedish league, Anton Lindholm will head to North America.
The Colorado Avalanche announced that they have signed the 21-year-old defenseman to a three-year, entry-level contract. They selected Lindholm in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
More of a defensive defenseman, Lindholm only registered four assists in 30 Swedish league games with Skelleftea AIK in 2015-16, but he also had a team-high 85 hits despite missing a chunk of the season due to injury. During the playoffs he helped his team reach the SHL Finals by leading them in both hits and blocked shots.
That was his second full campaign with Skelleftea AIK. The next step for Lindholm will likely be for him to continue his development in the AHL.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)
Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)
A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)
Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:
Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:
Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.
(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)
Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:
Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”
“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”
Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.
Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.
It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.
Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.
Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.
Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.
Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.
Read more about Game 6 here.