The Hockey News tabs Bylsma as best potential replacement coach

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The bad news for former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is that he found himself without a job once the smoke cleared from the NHL coaching carousel.

The good news is that he’s still getting paid in the meantime and that he’s one firing away from potentially finding himself in a fantastic situation. Of course, that hypothetical franchise would need to have mutual interest, but it’s easy to picture Bylsma replacing any number of head coaches who may head into 2014-15 on the hot seat.

(Imagine, for a moment, Bylsma sporting those glasses of his in Brooklyn during the 2015-16 season …)

It’s no surprise that The Hockey News tabbed him as the No. 1 choice in its top five “replacement” coaches list. Here’s the entry:

1. Dan Bylsma
Fired by the Penguins after another disappointing playoff result, it’s only a matter of time before Bylsma finds his next job. He was in the running for a few jobs this past summer (Florida, Vancouver) but he can afford to wait for the perfect fit. He’s won a Stanley Cup and coached USA at the Olympics last winter, but has come under fire for his tactics and lack of in-game adjustments. Any team that fires its coach mid-season will have a long look at Bylsma.

One might downgrade Byslma’s accomplishments in Pittsburgh thanks to the presence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, yet that disregards the fact that one (or both) of those players missed significant chunks of time nearly every year he was behind the Penguins’ bench. The team also shook off injuries to valuable players like Kris Letang and consistently ranked among the East’s most successful teams.

Sure, there have been playoff disappointments, but how many NHL teams have totally sidestepped such issues?

Yes, there’s the view that Bylsma’s coaching was Team USA’s downfall, and he did at least slightly luck-in to a roster strong enough to win a Stanley Cup, but there are few clearly superior choices among the unemployed (if nothing else).

There are some other interesting names on that list, including former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher. (Pro: the scar would return; Con: the 1-3-1 might come back with it.) Check out the full post here.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby shifts into high gear, Carlson clobbers Malkin

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You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.

The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.

It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.

MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start

That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.

Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.

Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.

There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?

Buckle up.

Video: Crosby scores two goals in 52 seconds vs. Capitals

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.

To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.

Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below: