Still alive: Rangers control play, send series back to MSG


Plenty of people seemed to count the New York Rangers out in their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and they certainly still have a long way to go to totally turn the tide. Still, the team showed their mettle in elimination games once again, handling the Penguins in Pittsburgh 5-1 to extend the series to Game 6.

The Penguins still have a 3-2 series lead, but they have to wonder if they’re going to face a tougher Rangers team here on out (or if that squad might run out of gas once more).

The difference between the Rangers in Game 5 vs. 4 was night-and-day. After only managing 15 shots on goal in a dispiriting Game 4 defeat, the Rangers bested that shot output in the first period alone.

The Blueshirts enjoyed a fantastic night from Derick Brassard. Brassard’s stat line was something to savor: two goals, one assist, a +2 rating, five shots on goal and even some gritty work (six hits, one trip to the penalty box).

He wasn’t the only Rangers skater to stand out, either, as Chris Kreider looked like a difference-maker (one goal, one assist, six hits) and Mats Zuccarello piled up three assists.

The under-sized Norwegian seemed to be just one of the Rangers to get under the skin of Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who seemed especially agitated at times tonight.

Mike Milbury believes that the Penguins might want to go back to spreading the wealth by separating Crosby from Malkin (who scored a beauty for Pittsburgh’s only goal).

Ryan McDonagh had a nice night on defense (one goal and one assist) while Henrik Lundqvist looked quite sharp himself in stopping 31 out of 32 shots.

(In case you’re wondering, Rick Nash didn’t score a goal but he did notch an assist.)

Marc-Andre Fleury probably allowed a goal or two that he’d like to have back, but he’s been outstanding for most (if not all) of the other games in this series. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma might want to tell most of the Penguins – Fleury included – just to put this one out of their minds.

After winning the game, the Rangers embraced Martin St. Louis, who decided to play one night after his mother’s passing.

There was a lot of negativity surrounding the Rangers the last time they faced the Penguins in Madison Square Garden. If they can bring the kind of effort that they did not, the prevailing emotion might just be more tension for Pittsburgh.

Of course, seeing a thinner lead is likely to bring a far more concerted effort from the Penguins, too. We’ll see whether this series goes to seven games depending upon how things play out in Game 7 on Sunday.

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher
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The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.

A month to remember: Duchene lighting it up in November

Matt Duchene, Nick Holden
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It wasn’t too long ago that a report surfaced saying that the Avalanche were willing to listen to offers on forward Matt Duchene.

When a player’s struggling and rumors start swirling, one of two things tends to happen.

Either the player involved lets it affect his on-ice performance in a negative way or he’s motivated by the trade talk and turns his struggles around.

Instead of pouting, the 24-year-old rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

In October, Duchene scored a goal and an assist in 10 games, but things changed in a hurry when November rolled around.

The Avs forward has picked up at least one point in 11 of 13 games this month.

Duchene has 11 goals and nine assists in November and he still has a game to go before the calendar flips to December.

“Obviously, things completely flip-flopped,” Duchene told the Denver Post. “That’s the coldest start I’ve ever had and things are good right now. Obviously, I know it could go right back, I could go cold again, that’s just the nature of the game. You just have to work every day to keep it going. The most important thing is to be able to provide offense and help the team win.”

PHT Morning Skate: A bride can have her burger and eat it too

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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.

A woman in a wedding dress was caught eating a burger during Saturday’s game between the Stars and Wild. (Above)

Team Europe has a number of quality goaltending options to chose from ahead of next fall’s World Cup of Hockey. (

Watch as some players on Nashville’s roster try to guess the lyrics to different country songs:

Former goaltender Eddie Johnston sits down for a Q & A with’s Shelly Anderson. (ESPN)

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got into a “Twitter war” with former NHLer Jim Kyte. (Puck Daddy)

Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference made a generous donation to a Syrian refugee fund. (Huffington Post)

Julien explains comments about Lundqvist’s ‘acting’

Claude Julien

We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.

Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.

On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.

Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.

Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.

“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.

Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”

It’s time for both sides to move on.