PHT Morning Skate: Put up or shut up for Rangers-Habs

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It’s been said that “talk is cheap” but the one thing it does do is help make things a bit more interesting.

The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers haven’t been able to help but speak their minds about each other following the Habs’ 3-2 overtime win in Game 3. From the Rangers seeking to make sure more calls aren’t missed, like Brandon Prust’s late hit on Derek Stepan, to the Canadiens taking umbrage with said gamesmanship the two days off between Games 3 and 4 have served to amp things up.

All the talk ends tonight and the Canadiens have the chance to even-up the series before heading home. The Rangers would like nothing more than to put them on the brink of elimination.

Game 4: New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens [New York leads series 2-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

With all the talk aside, losing Game 3 had to be frustrating for the Rangers. They controlled the better part of the game and peppered the Montreal net with shots. The key for the Canadiens will be whether or not Dustin Tokarski can rise to the occasion again. His 35 saves in Game 3 helped buoy the Habs and gave them a bit more resolve to push back.

Derick Brassard’s return to the lineup should give the Rangers a lift. He’s been out since early in Game 1 against Montreal after taking a big hit from Mike Weaver. Brassard will return to his usual spot on a line with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello and even though Michel Therrien said they know what exactly his injury is, that weird statement of fact shouldn’t slow him down.

Brassard’s return and Stepan likely being out isn’t a great trade-off, but one the Rangers will gladly take at this point in the playoffs.

One thing to watch for Montreal: P.K. Subban. He hasn’t had a great series so far but that doesn’t mean an eruption won’t happen. He’s too good of a player to keep down for long and after being such a big factor against the Boston Bruins, you get the feeling there’s a big game from him coming.

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.