New York’s power play woes disappear in Game 5

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PITTSBURGH — For one game in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Rangers didn’t have power play woes.

The Rangers 5-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 saw them score twice on the man-advantage in three opportunities.

Scoring twice on the power play is a good night regardless of the situation, but after going into the game on a 0-for-36 streak in the playoffs, the Rangers felt a bit of relief finally getting off the schneid.

“Hopefully it lifted the million-pound weight we had on our shoulders when we’re going out there and we can keep getting it done on the power play,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. “It’s a huge part of the game and if we can get it rolling, good for us.”

The Rangers’ first goal of the game came on the power play when Chris Kreider buried a rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. Getting the game’s first goal and breaking a playoff-long cold streak helped them get started in the best possible way.

“When we scored [the first one], I was on the bench I could feel that everyone just took a deep breath like, ‘Ahh we scored,’ Rangers forward Derick Brassard said. “Like, finally. It helped us gain the momentum in the first period, we were flying. We were all over the place and I think it really got us going.”

The Rangers finished the first period ahead 2-0, but in the second the Penguins cut the lead in half when Evgeni Malkin scored his sixth goal of the postseason. While Brassard scored just over four minutes later to make it 3-1, the Rangers essentially iced the game when McDonagh scored his first of the playoffs on the power play with a slap shot from the point to beat Fleury.

“We’ve been waiting for it to click here,” McDonagh said. “We continue to have meetings and talk and try to make things happen, make adjustments. We never stop. Now the thing is, we’ve got to back it up and continue with it here. It helped to swing a game here, but it’s got to continue to help us in the next one.”

Getting the power play right, even for a game, is a big step for the Rangers. The key to getting things right in Game 5 may have been just in doing things a bit more simple.

“When you look at our power play goals, they weren’t anything special,” Brassard said. “McDonagh’s shot was a good shot, I don’t think Fleury saw it. Kreider’s goal was a rebound. Our defenseman could’ve taken his time, but he just decided to shoot. When you keep it simple sometimes, good things happen. It’s funny, sometimes you try to make plays and plays are there and it’s not going in. This time it was really simple and it went in.”

Asked if it was just a matter of making the straight-forward play, Brassard fired back with a laugh.

“Like I said, nothing special.”

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to defend Craig Anderson following his blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some sad endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: