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Penguins dominate Rangers, regain Metropolitan lead

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In a game that was reminiscent of their one-sided first-round playoff series this past spring, the Pittsburgh Penguins were 7-2 winners over the New York Rangers to move back into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Both teams have 47 points after Tuesday’s game, but the Penguins have played in one fewer game giving them the tiebreaker (for now).

This one was not really close, and the scoreboard is a pretty accurate reflection of what took place on the ice.

Both teams were missing several key players (Kris Letang and Trevor Daley on the Pittsburgh side; Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad on the New York side, as well Henrik Lundqvist getting another night off in favor of Antti Raanta) but the Penguins were able to completely dictate the pace of the game from start to finish. The Penguins stormed out early and recorded 14 of the first 19 shots of the game, and then ended up owning a commanding 47-27 shot margin by the end of the night.

They completely overwhelmed a Rangers defense that simply could not keep up with their speed.

It was already the Penguins’ eighth game this season with at least 40 shots on goal, most in the NHL.

Just when it looked like the Rangers were going to make it close early in the third period when Michael Grabner scored his 14th goal of the season to cut the Penguins’ lead to 3-2, the Penguins responded by scoring five goals over the next 16 minutes to close out the game as they continue to score goals like it is still the 1980s.

The two stars of the game for Pittsburgh were, again, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as they continued to close in on Connor McDavid in the scoring race with a couple of multiple-point efforts.

With his three point night Malkin continued what has been a quietly dominant season to take over the team lead in scoring with 37 points and move to within three points of McDavid for the top spot in the league.

Crosby finished with two points, including his league-leading 22nd goal of the season, to close to within four points. He has played in six fewer games than Malkin at this point and eight fewer games than McDavid.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision┬áduring Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

And … just like that, the Lightning┬átied things up. Wow.

Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

Video will be added when available.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by┬áOndrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.