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NHL on NBCSN: Blues and Flyers continue to fight for their playoff lives

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers  host the St. Louis Blues at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The St. Louis Blues have been falling apart for over a month now. GM Doug Armstrong’s answer to the mounting losses was to fire Ken Hitchcock and replace him with associate coach Mike Yeo.

Yeo was able to win his first game as head coach on Thursday, when the Blues defeated the Maple Leafs 5-1, but they went back to their old ways on Saturday, as they were dropped 4-1 by the Penguins. As if the loss to Pittsburgh wasn’t enough, the Blues also lost forward Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL in that. He’s done for the year.

“I know it’s been a long emotional week for everybody,” Yeo said after the loss, per the St. Louis Dispatch “We had a good game (on Thursday) and this was not a good game. What I’ve said all along is, we need to continue to build our game. It has to be our focus. We’ll take out of this what did well enough and push forward.”

Things won’t get any easier for St. Louis. Tonight is their first game of a five-game road trip, which will see them travel to Philly, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit. The first four games will be played over the next six days.

Despite their struggles, the Blues are still in a decent spot. They’re currently two points behind Calgary for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but they have three games in hand. A solid road trip could put them right back in playoff position.

The Flyers are in a similar boat. They need to go on a run if they want to secure a position in the postseason. Philadelphia has racked up 59 points in 53 games, which puts them in the final Wild Card spot in the East…for now.

They’re two points ahead of Toronto, three points ahead of Florida and four points ahead of Carolina, but those teams have three, one and two games in hand respectively.

This will be Philadelphia’s third game of a five-game homestand that has see them take down Montreal on Thursday and lose in OT to Los Angeles on Saturday night.

One of the positives for the Flyers has been the play of goalie Michal Neuvirth, who was especially outstanding in the 1-0 loss to the Kings. In his last three outings, Neuvirth owns a 0.99 goals-against-average and a .958 save percentage. Those numbers are obviously on a small scale, but no one can argue that those are impressive stats.

The Flyers typically split the workload between Neuvirth and Steve Mason when both are healthy, but playing multiple games in a row is something every goalie appreciates.

“It’s definitely huge,” Neuvirth said, per CSN Philly. “Like I said so many times, the more I play the better I play, I felt really good out there.

“I am seeing the puck well, I was battling through traffic, penalty kill was really good once again.  It would have been nice if we could win that game but, it didn’t happen.”

If they want to hold down that playoff spot, they’ll need one of their two goalies to continue stepping up and keeping them in games.

‘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