PHT Morning Skate: NHLers react to Sunday’s thrilling Super Bowl finish

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–Wayne Gretzky and Anze Kopitar first met a few years ago on a golf course, and they continue to be friends to this day. Kopitar, who has named captain of the Kings over the summer, has counted on Gretzky’s experience to help him adapt to his new leadership position. “What I do is try to fish for some stories on how he would have done things, how he handled stuff. I try not to impose too much. He’s so gracious…I don’t want him to feel I’m taking advantage by any means. He’s the one guy…when he talks, everybody listens.” (NHL.com)

–Former NHLers Scott Fitzgerald, Brian Bradley, Scott Mellanby, Andrew Brunette, Ray Ferraro and Doug Wilson were, at some point, all selected by teams as part of the expansion to the Sun Belt. Each player has some pretty interesting stories about playing in non-traditional hockey markets. “There was a hotel in Burlingame, Calif. One of our famous trainers Tommy Woodcock lived out of the hotel,” said Wilson. “There was a little sports bar in there called Knuckles, and he would hold court in there. A lot of the fans would come there after games, and we as players would go there after. Here we are sitting and drinking and talking hockey, and with our fans that were just at our games. That happened a lot.” (The Hockey News)

–The Montreal Canadiens have been one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season, and with under a month remaining before the trade deadline, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Marc Bergevin will be “all-in”. Dreger also touched on the Blues and their willingness to deal a guy like Kevin Shattenkirk, who is a pending UFA. Interestingly enough, he mentions that coaches and general managers around the league view Shattenkirk as more of a power play specialist than a top four defenseman. (TSN.ca)

–On Sunday, the Washington Capitals continued showing why they’re one of the powers of the NHL, as they dismantled the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 5-0. Philipp Grubauer made 38 saves in the shutout win. You can watch the highlights of the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Lawson Crouse’s father, Mike, was pretty fired up after watching his son drop the gloves in Saturday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks. Dad even waved a Coyotes jersey (with his family name on the back) like it was a flag. This is pretty funny stuff. (The Score)

–Former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Joe Watson is organizing a series of hockey games in Russia, including an outdoor contest on Moscow’s Red Square. One of the people invited to play against the Flyers, is Russian president Vladimir Putin, who had eight goals in an exhibition games against NHL alumni back in 2015. “They never release Putin’s schedule until 24 hours before because of security reasons, so Putin, if he’s around, he wants to play the game against us.” (USA Today)

–NHL players reacted to yesterday’s thrilling Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons:

‘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