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Looking for a goalie? Crawford says Darling’s ‘definitely’ a No. 1

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LOS ANGELES — It’s already well-established that this summer’s goalie market is going to be interesting.

A slew of guys are set to hit unrestricted free agency, and — in addition to teams needing to address the position — the expansion Las Vegas franchise has to fill out its roster as well.

A name that’s garnered plenty of attention recently is Chicago backup Scott Darling. And on Saturday, the guy Darling’s currently behind — second-time All-Star Corey Crawford — put forth a glowing recommendation for his crease mate.

“Definitely,” Crawford said, when asked if Darling is starting netminder material. “He’s already come along and learned so many things in his first two years. He’s a big guy that can move well, and there’s still a lot of things to learn.

“I had to learn that too, in my second year. Being a No. 1, there’s a lot more that goes into it — a little more pressure, and some other things that start to come up that you have to deal with. But as far as skill and technique and mental toughness and all that stuff, Darls has come a long way.”

Darling, 28, is in the midst of a banner campaign. As mentioned, he has ideal size — 6-foot-6 — and showed extremely well this year as the temporary starter, when Crawford went down with appendicitis.

All told, Darling is 12-5-2 with a .925 save percentage and 2.31 GAA. And his body of work over the course of his brief NHL career lends credence to the notion he could be a No. 1 — in 65 games, he’s posted a .923 save percentage and 2.34 GAA.

Darling is an absolute bargain right now, in the last of a two-year deal with a minuscule $587,500 cap hit.

That will likely change this summer.

And along with it, his zip code could change too.

Chicago’s starting gig will stay with Crawford, who’s backstopped the team to a pair of Stanley Cups. This is his second All-Star Game appearance in the last three seasons, and he further cemented his status as one of the NHL’s best this past offseason, when he was one of three goalies named to Team Canada at the World Cup (along with Braden Holtby and Carey Price, the two reigning Vezina winners).

As such, opportunity and a nice payday are probably coming from somewhere other than the Windy City.

The big question, of course, is where Darling fits in what projects to be a fluid market. Guys with starting experience — like Ben Bishop, Ryan Miller, Brian Elliott, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth — could all come available.

And backups like Darling — Buffalo’s Anders Nilsson, New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid, Ottawa’s Mike Condon and Calgary’s Chad Johnson — are also having good-to-great years, and could be up for grabs as well.

And, lest we forget, there’s a situation in Pittsburgh where one of Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury will have to be left unprotected in the expansion draft.

Whatever the case, Crawford’s words suggest Darling will be a key figure this summer.

“He’s definitely up there for a spot, for sure,” he said. “He’s a great guy to play with, and just a great guy to be around too.

“It’s been awesome having him as a teammate.”

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.

Penguins’ Hornqvist hurt after blocking shot vs. Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have had to shuffle their forward combinations in the second period, after Patric Hornqvist was hurt blocking a shot in the first period of Game 2 versus the Capitals.

The Penguins forward was in obvious pain after taking a shot right around the ankle, which is a concerning development for Pittsburgh.

Per reports, he didn’t re-join the Penguins at the bench when the second period began.

Hornqvist can be a frustrating player to go up against, and he’s productive, too, with two goals and five points in six playoff games prior to Saturday.

Moving on up: Devils win NHL Draft Lottery, secure No. 1 overall pick

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The New Jersey Devils entered the Draft Lottery with an 8.5 per cent chance of winning it. They will leave with the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

The Devils finished the regular season with just 70 points, tied with Arizona for the third fewest in the overall standings. They’ve also had plenty of difficulty scoring goals in recent years, and this provides them with an opportunity to land a player — forwards Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier are expected to be the top two players selected in June — that can help remedy that.

It’s become quite a close race between the two heading into the draft, which goes June 23-24 in Chicago.

From Bob McKenzie of TSN:

For TSN’s Draft Lottery edition, five scouts ranked the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick No. 1; five scouts ranked the 6-foot-1, 176-pound Hischier No. 1. The Swiss pivot has closed the gap with his dynamic play, which came at a time when Patrick’s injury-riddled season was ended prematurely by an upper-body ailment that wasn’t related to the groin/abdominal issues that plagued him for the first half of the season.

While the Devils emerged as the overall winners, the Philadelphia Flyers had an enormous rise up the board. So, too, did the Dallas Stars.

The Flyers had just a 2.2 per cent chance of winning the lottery, yet they moved all the way up into the No. 2 selection spot when it was over. The Stars, with a 5.8 per cent chance of winning the lottery, also had a good day, moving up into the No. 3 overall spot.

Here is the 2017 draft order:

  1. New Jersey Devils
  2. Philadelphia Flyers
  3. Dallas Stars
  4. Colorado Avalanche
  5. Vancouver Canucks
  6. Vegas Golden Knights
  7. Arizona Coyotes
  8. Buffalo Sabres
  9. Detroit Red Wings
  10. Florida Panthers
  11. L.A. Kings
  12. Carolina Hurricanes
  13. Winnipeg Jets
  14. Tampa Bay Lightning
  15. New York Islanders

As you see, there were a few other key developments in this lottery.

Vegas was given a 10.3 per cent chance at winning the top pick — the same odds given to the 28th place team — however, the Golden Knights will pick sixth overall. The Colorado Avalanche, which finished with a miserable 48 points and had the best odds to win lottery, now pick fourth overall.

And once again, the Canucks endured more disappointment at the lottery.

Last year, they dropped two spots, from third to fifth. Needing an impact forward in order to help kickstart their rebuild, they dropped three spots, from No. 2 to No. 5 overall, on Saturday.

Related: Report: Devils GM plans to reach out to Kovalchuk’s agent next week