PHT Morning Skate: Chicago looks to follow Montreal’s example

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The New York Rangers’ first opportunity to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t have turned out much worse for them.

After allowing no more than three goals in each of his previous seven contests, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was chased from Game 5. He turned aside just 15 of 19 shots, although his replacement, Cam Talbot, was no better.

Montreal overcame a second period comeback attempt from the Rangers en route to a 7-4 victory that reduced the series deficit to 3-2. The game also featured its fair share of controversy, as has become the standard in this series.

With one series extended, Chicago will do its best to follow in Montreal’s footsteps.

Game 5: Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks [Los Angeles leads series 3-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

A year ago, Los Angeles’ defense of its championship was thwarted by the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. That moment has stuck with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

“It was a frustrating time,” Doughty told the Los Angeles Times. “I wanted to win that Cup again so bad along with all the other guys on my team. It hurts when you can’t get what you want and what you want back.

“It really gave me the drive, even more of ‘the want’ to beat this team just because they did take our season away last year and it’s our turn to do it back to them.”

After a lot of hard work, he finally has the opportunity to put the Blackhawks through exactly what he dealt with, but the completion of his poetic revenge won’t come easy. Chicago has been down this road before — not against the Kings mind you, but the Blackhawks did find themselves behind 3-1 against Detroit in 2013 and they fought back.

“Why can’t we do it again?” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane asked. “It’s tough in the position we’re in now. But at the same time, we still feel good about our team in here and we all know that we’ve done it before.”

If the Blackhawks are to pull off another comeback, they will need more from Kane. He helped lead them past St. Louis and Minnesota, but the Kings have held him to just one assist in the Western Conference Final. To be fair though, Kane isn’t the only one that’s had a hard time beating goaltender Jonathan Quick.

The other two members of Chicago’s top line, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell, weren’t exactly great in Chicago’s 5-2 loss on Monday, which is troubling as Chicago needs its first line to dominate to make uniting Toews and Kane worth the hit in depth.

The Blackhawks do have a great cast build around Toews and Kane, but they haven’t shown up so far. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have combined for just one goal in this series.

If any of those guys start to click though, the Kings will be in for a fight. Certainly, they’re anticipating a strong effort from Chicago tonight.

“I think we’re in a good place in terms of understanding that we’re playing a really good hockey team, knowing full well we’ll get the full charge tomorrow night,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “We’ll have to be ready for it.”

The Buzzer: Malkin paces Penguins, Vegas keeps on winning

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Player of the night: Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin helped get things started for the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, and then he finished the game off with the overtime winner to send the New York Rangers to a fourth consecutive loss.

Malkin scored once, added three assists and even dropped the gloves in a 5-4 overtime victory, as the Penguins came back with a late — and crafty — third period goal from Sidney Crosby.

Talk about the Penguins being opportunistic on the winner. Off a defensive zone faceoff win for the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh made a terrible giveaway right beside his own net, giving the puck to Phil Kessel, who slipped it over to Malkin for the quick one-timer.

Highlight of the night:

There were a few candidates for this tonight. Phil Kessel once again showed off that tremendous wrist shot. Thomas Vanek decided to blast a slap shot on a breakaway, going post and in against the Senators. Nikita Kucherov had a perfect shot against Cory Schneider after previously setting up teammate Vladislav Namestnikov for a pretty goal versus the Devils. Yes, there were a few options.

But, we’ll go back to Winnipeg for this one. Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson not only protects the puck from Jacob Trouba on the breakaway, but then dekes out Steve Mason with the move to the forehand.

Factoid of the night:

The Vegas Golden Knights won again, giving them a 5-1 record to begin their inaugural season. That puts them in elite company.

Scores:

New Jersey 5, Tampa Bay 4 (SO)

San Jose 5, Montreal 2

Pittsburgh 5, New York 4 (OT)

Philadelphia 5, Florida 1

Toronto 2, Washington 0

Vancouver 3, Ottawa 0

Nashville 4, Colorado 1

Columbus 5, Winnipeg 2

Dallas 3, Arizona 1

Vegas 5, Buffalo 4 (OT)

Carolina 5, Edmonton 3

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Sharks send Habs to their fifth straight loss

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Make that five straight losses for the Montreal Canadiens.

Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist on Shea Weber‘s power play blast, giving the Habs center a two-point night. That’s one of the few bright spots, as Montreal lost by a score of 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

This was a battle of two teams struggling to start the new season, with each sitting on only one victory. For the Habs, that victory was back on Oct. 5 in their season opener against Buffalo.

Since then, however . . .

And it isn’t about to get any easier for the Habs. This was the start of a stretch that includes three games in four nights against the bruising California teams — the Sharks tonight, the Kings tomorrow, and the Ducks on Friday. It could still get worse before it gets better.

For the Sharks, who were led Tuesday by Logan Couture‘s four-point performance and Joe Pavelski‘s first goal of the season, they end their five-game home stand on a positive note after losing three of the previous four games.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Wayne Simmonds leaves Flyers game for ‘precautionary reasons’ with lower-body issue

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The Philadelphia Flyers earned a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, thanks to a four-goal outburst in the second period.

And Philly forward Wayne Simmonds earned a decision over Micheal Haley in a quick fight during that middle frame, too.

While the Flyers got the win, the news wasn’t all good with respect to Simmonds, however, as he was removed from the game for precautionary reasons because of a lower-body issue, the team announced.

Beyond that, the Flyers said they will know more about his status by either tomorrow or Thursday. That puts a bit of a damper on the win.

Not only is the 29-year-old Simmonds one of the toughest players in the league, unafraid to drop the gloves or throw big hits from time to time, but he’s an important part of Philadelphia’s offensive attack, as well. A productive member of the power play, he’s flirted with the 30-goal mark on three occasions while in Philly and reached that mark in each of the past two seasons.

And he’s done that on a contract that includes an annual cap hit of just under $4 million.

Simmonds was also off to a strong start in 2017-18 with five goals and seven points in six games.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Rangers’ losing streak continues with OT defeat vs. Penguins

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The New York Rangers needed a win.

Their slow start is among the surprises early this season, as the Rangers have now lost four in a row with only one win to their record through seven games so far. They’ve had trouble scoring. Mistakes at inopportune moments have been costly.

Facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, the Rangers had a brutal start and a brutal finish in a 5-4 overtime loss to their Metropolitan Division foes.

Phil Kessel scored just 43 seconds into the game, utilizing that dangerous wrist shot off the rush to beat Henrik Lundqvist top corner. By the end of one period, it was 2-0 Pittsburgh.

Despite a second-period comeback, with three goals in under three minutes, and taking the lead in the third period, the Rangers couldn’t hang on and the Penguins won in overtime.

Sidney Crosby scored a crafty tying goal with only 56 seconds remaining in regulation, waiting for the Rangers defender to touch the puck negating what would’ve likely been called a hand pass on Pittsburgh before firing a no-look backhander toward the net from behind the red line. The puck deflected in off Lundqvist, helping send this one to overtime.

Evgeni Malkin capped off a four-point night with the overtime winner.

“Right now it’s a little bit challenging as far as putting a whole game together for us,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault following the game. “But this group is very accountable … and I’m very confident that if we keep doing a lot of the things we’re doing right now, we’re going to be on the right track.”

A trio of Rangers recorded their first goals of the season. That included David Desharnais, Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich, although the latter played less than 10 minutes on Tuesday, despite nearly four minutes in power play time, and of course the goal.

The Rangers host the New York Islanders on Thursday. Another loss, and one has to wonder how hot the seat may be getting under Vigneault.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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