2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

Rangers trying to look on the bright side

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At this point, the odds are heavily stacked against the New York Rangers. They haven’t proven yet that they can seal the deal against the Los Angeles Kings when they have a two-goal lead and now they have to beat them four times in a row.

At a time like this, it’s important for the New York Rangers to look at the bright side. And what is that at this point? Well, the fact that they even have a game scheduled for June 11th is a good start.

“There’s 28 teams that would love to be in our place right now,” Rangers forward Marty St. Louis said, per NHL.com’s Brian Compton.

“It’s still an unbelievable situation to be in a Stanley Cup Final,” Brad Richards told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “We’ve gotta remember that.”

It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come often. Richards and St. Louis made it to the Cup Final in 2004 and they had to fight for another decade before they could get back. And making it this far twice in their careers makes them two of the lucky ones.

The fact is, the Rangers might as well fight into the bitter end, not just because that’s what they’re supposed to do or because that’s how they got this far in the first place, but because every player on the roster realizes that, even down 3-0 in the series, they might not get a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup than they have right now.

“It’s not like we’ve been outplayed here. That’s not been the case,” Henrik Lundqvist insisted, according to the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno.

The Rangers certainly have been the better team at times, but not nearly often enough. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was asked what they could do differently and he bluntly said “score,” but that won’t be enough.

The Kings have found different ways to beat them and along the way, they have furthered their reputation as the most resilient team in this year’s postseason. The Rangers have to take that title from them because nothing short of that will be sufficient.

SportsDash: Anson Carter takes a look at what went wrong for the Rangers in Game 3

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Video: Kuznetsov sets table for Vrana’s first NHL goal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Jakub Vrana of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).

Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.

See it for yourself:

Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.

He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.

Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.

Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:

Kulikov returns to increasingly healthy Sabres lineup

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Dmitry Kulikov #77 of the Buffalo Sabres in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.

The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?

He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.

Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.

With Foligno out sick, Columbus gives Bjorkstrand another shot

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13:  Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face-off during the game against the Boston Bruins on October 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.

The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.

He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.

With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.

Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?

Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: