Brendan Gallagher

PHT Morning Skate: Bruins ready to fight back vs. Habs tonight


The Pittsburgh Penguins once again cleanly beat the Rangers to push New York to the brink of elimination. While the Rangers try to figure out how they can turn the tide, we have two more playoff games ahead of us tonight.

Game 4: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 2-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

Boston scored seven goals in the third periods of their first two games versus Montreal. The Canadiens would not permit any late game heroics on Tuesday.

The Bruins were held to just seven shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and while Jarome Iginla did scored with 2:16 minutes remaining, Montreal still went on to earn a 4-2 victory.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask lamented after the game that the Bruins “made stupid mistakes” while coach Claude Julien felt their start wasn’t good enough to give them a chance to win.

The silver lining is that help might be on the way for the Bruins. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg feels good enough to return from a torn ACL, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will play soon. As upbeat as he is, he reportedly hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.

On the other side, the Canadiens were angry that Milan Lucic appeared to spear defenseman Alexei Emelin.

Lucic and Emelin have a long-standing rivalry, so we’ll have to see if that battle escalates as we get deeper into the series.

Game 3: Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings [Los Angeles leads series 2-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Kings have won six straight games, but they want to avoid getting too comfortable. After all, they know better than most just how quickly a series can turn.

“Coming home having that 2-0 lead, you want to have that killer instinct too, and that right attitude, that right mind-set to win in front of your own fans,” Kings forward Jarret Stoll told the Los Angeles Times.

The Ducks are going into this contest with a similar attitude and it obviously shouldn’t be hard for them to view this as a must-win game. In order for Anaheim to turn this series around though, the team needs to find a way to beat Jonathan Quick. So far the Kings goaltender has turned aside 69 of 72 shots.

“He’s seeing a lot of pucks. We need to get in his eyes, get in his head a bit,” forward Patrick Maroon said. “We need to crash and bang, go to the net. We need all 20 of us. It’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

If they fail to do that tonight, the Ducks will have no recourse but to try and give the Kings a taste of their own medicine by overcoming a 3-0 series deficit.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.