New York Rangers  v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five

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.”

After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

David Savard
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These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

It was a real nightmare for those guys.

Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

Rankings

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.

John Scott to return to Habs’ AHL team this weekend

Pacific Division forward John Scott (28) is lifted up by teammates Mark Giordano (5), of the Calgary Flames, Joe Pavelski (8), and Brent Burns (88), of the San Jose Sharks after they defeated the Atlantic Division team 1-0 at an NHL hockey All-Star championship game, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Pacific Division won 1-0. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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John Scott’s had enough time off following his All-Star Game MVP award.

Now, he wants to get back to work.

Scott, who made major headlines at the end of January thanks to his unforgettable All-Star performance in Nashville, will return to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s this weekend, as the IceCaps play a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies.

“It’ll be nice to [be] back playing hockey and doing my thing. I’m actually really excited for it,” Scott said, per ESPN. “This has been the longest break I’ve had, ever. But I play like 7-8 minutes, I won’t be too out of shape, I’ll be able to keep up.”

Scott, 33, hasn’t played since his Pacific Division team won the annual ASG 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 31. Following that whirlwind weekend, the Montreal organization allowed him to take a leave to be with his wife, Danielle, who gave birth to twin girls on Feb. 5.

Scott only appeared in four games for St. John’s prior to the All-Star Game, going pointless with six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.

Related:

The John Scott story, coming to a theater near you?

Therrien on Habs recalling Scott: ‘You never know’

 

Goalie nods: Budaj set to make Kings debut

during a preseason game at Staples Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
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Journeyman Peter Budaj looks as though he’ll make his first regular-season NHL appearance since April of 2014, when the Kings take on the Rangers at MSG.

Recalled from AHL Ontario due to an injury to Jonathan Quick, Budaj gets the nod tonight after Quick’s backup, Jhonas Enroth, was beat for four goals on 29 shots in last night’s loss to the Islanders.

Budaj, 33, has certainly earned another crack at the big leagues. After catching on with the Kings through a PTO in training camp, he’s been terrific in Ontario, going 26-9-3 with a 1.58 GAA and .935 save percentage. The Slovakian netminder also has eight shutouts this year.

For the Rangers, Antti Raanta gets the start in goal, giving Henrik Lundqvist a night off.

Elsewhere…

Ben Scrivens, who appears to be the new No. 1 in Montreal, will go for his fourth straight win when the Habs visit Buffalo. Chad Johnson is in goal for the Sabres, who’ve really struggled of late.

Marc-Andre Fleury goes for the Penguins, while it looks like Cam Ward is in for Carolina.

— Really good matchup in Detroit as Semyon Varlamov goes up against Petr Mrazek who, according to Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, has “crashed Braden Holtby’s Vezina party.”

— Battle of All-Star netminders in Tampa Bay, as Ben Bishop goes for the Bolts while Pekka Rinne starts for Nashville.

The red-hot Brian Elliott will continue to roll as St. Louis’ No. 1 in Florida. The Panthers will go with their old reliable, Roberto Luongo.

Now that Karri Ramo’s on IR, it’s Jonas Hiller time for the Flames. He’ll start tonight in Arizona, against Louis Domingue.