Carey Price

And then there were three: Canadiens eliminated

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For more entries in this series, click here.

The Montreal Canadiens can’t feel great about the way they ended their 2013-14 season. The New York Rangers only beat them 1-0 in Game 6, but it was a thorough domination; the Habs only managed five shots on goal with their season on the line in the third period.

Maybe the Canadiens ran out of gas or maybe the Rangers were just that much better. Still, the good news is that Montreal can take this disappointment and potentially build something promising going forward. Let’s look back at their season overall.

  • Aside from some hiccups and maybe some evidence that his style might not hold up under long-term scrutiny, Dustin Tokarski played well enough that the storyline of Carey Price’s injury gets knocked down a paragraph or two. The Habs can still be allowed to ask “What if?” mainly because Price is just that good. If there was any doubt about Price as a No. 1 goalie, he eliminated most of it by playing great hockey and winning gold as Canada’s top netminder.
  • P.K. Subban might be a lightning rod for criticism, but he showed that he can be a big-minute, big-game defenseman in a big way. Just look at the time on ice from Games 4 (33:16), Game 5 (30:25) and Game 6 (27:04). The Canadiens face a challenge in re-signing the restricted free agent this summer, yet he’ll likely be worth the money (assuming something doesn’t go wrong in negotiations, naturally).
  • In case you didn’t keep up with incessant commentary on social media, Thomas Vanek’s rental with Montreal finished on a sour note. It would be surprising to see him come back, but GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for giving his team a shot with a top-six forward for a reasonable price.
  • Michel Therrien made a lot of headlines by bickering with Alain Vigneault, yet he also managed to guide Montreal within two wins of a Stanley Cup Final appearance. He’s likely to get a chance (if not a few more chances) to bring the Habs even further after some nice work this season.
  • The Canadiens beat the hated Boston Bruins, which is probably some great solace for Habs fans who are especially invested in that rivalry.
  • This is a young team with a ton of cap space. If Bergevin presses the right buttons, Montreal could be a perennial East contender.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.