Sens looking for ‘a better offensive effort’ against Pens in Game 3

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) They have split two games scoring a combined three goals.

They have limited the Pittsburgh Penguins to two goals.

They have gone 1-1 on the road against the defending Stanley Cup champions in the Eastern Conference final.

Now all the Ottawa Senators want going into Game 3 at home on Wednesday is more:

More wins. More offense. More getting under the Penguins’ skin.

“It’s a tight series, and we grabbed a win on the road,” defenseman Marc Methot said Tuesday. “I mean, had you asked us if we’d be in this position or we’d enjoy being in this position a couple months back, I’m pretty sure we’d take it. We have an opportunity now to get home and play in front of our great fans, and the building will be rocking. That’s something that we’re looking forward to.”

Ottawa rode its defense in a 2-1 overtime win Saturday and played hard in a 1-0 loss Monday. Holding opponents in check, keeping them away from their sweet spots, getting strong goaltending from Craig Anderson are all big parts of the team’s identity.

Pittsburgh surged in the third period of Game 2 and controlled play but struggled to create key chances in tight.

“It’s hard to get to the net against these guys,” Penguins center Nick Bonino said. “They have five guys in the house.”

Ottawa had to scramble to hold fast, with Phil Kessel‘s deciding goal coming in the third when Anderson said he caught an edge with his skate and wasn’t able to move to his left to stop the puck. The Senators know they will probably need more than one goal per game to win the series.

“I think we learned a few things,” center Tom Pyatt said. “We played a solid defensive game, kept them on the outside. But I think they spent a little too much time in our zone, and, obviously, we need a better offensive effort for Game 3.”

The Senators want to do that without trying to morph into an offensive juggernaut or get into a track meet with the speedy Penguins.

“I want to push, but the Stanley Cup champion is on the other side there,” coach Guy Boucher said. “We’re not going to stomp all over them. If we get into an offensive contest, well, we can give them the series right now. We’ve got to know what we are, and we’ve got to know what we’re able to do. This is as hard as these guys have pushed all year, and that’s why the two teams are going toe-to-toe, and it’s one-goal games, because both teams are defending well, both teams are trying to create what they can.”

Kessel’s goal came after TV cameras caught him barking at teammates, including linemate Evgeni Malkin, who downplayed any lingering effect.

“We’re emotional guys,” Malkin said. “After the game, we were fine. Sometimes we lose our minds on a couple of shifts, but after we get a little bit of rest, a commercial break, we talk to each other and we start playing (harmoniously).”

Notes: Pittsburgh wingers Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust and defenseman Justin Schultz all have upper-body injuries and are day-to-day. All traveled to Ottawa … Senators winger Viktor Stalberg (lower-body injury) could return as early as Wednesday and defenseman Mark Borowiecki (lower-body injury) is also getting close.

 

Young Mitch Marner meme isn’t lost on Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

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A couple of days ago, Mitch Marner was spotted at Pearson Airport in Toronto with a backwards baseball cap after flying back from a very impressive and productive run at the World Hockey Championship.

Hockey Twitter exploded with well-meaning laughter as the dazzlingly talented 20-year-old looked even younger than 20.

Even a few days later, it really is a sight to behold, whether you need a respite from politics or biting your nails about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final:

As much as many of us deride this age of social media, it’s been a goldmine for self deprecating comedy from hockey players; as it turns out, Roberto Luongo doesn’t have that market completely cornered, either.

Not long ago, Auston Matthews jumped in on the Marner meme, and it was glorious:

To his credit, Marner himself joined in:

Is anyone else eager to see what these young stars come up with both on and off the ice during the next, oh, couple decades?

Johansen wishes he was there to shake Kesler’s hand after Predators won

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Ryan Johansen isn’t backing down about his criticisms of the way Ryan Kesler plays. Not after the Nashville Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks. Not as he recovers from emergency surgery.

That was the top bulletin-board material from a great interview Johansen participated in with TSN 1040 Vancouver on Wednesday, as the refreshingly candid forward discussed a wide array of topics.

For instance, Johansen:

  • Praised the hockey acumen of Nashville fans, backing up P.K. Subban‘s praise of the market.
  • Went into detail about his harrowing injury. Johansen explained that, at first, the seemingly innocent hit by Josh Manson would just be one of those “that’s going to leave a bad bruise” moments. Toward the end of the game, he was a shift or two from telling Peter Laviolette that he’d be a liability to his team. After the contest, he couldn’t even walk out of the shower, and that’s when medical staff determined that a painful injury required emergency surgery.
  • The bittersweet feelings of seeing his team advance to a Stanley Cup Final without him.
  • He spoke about how confident he felt during a postseason run that’s drawn rave reviews.

Still, the juicy stuff was about Kesler. That comes at around the 10:50 mark of an interview worth listening to in its entirety.

Nice. That’s basically the opposite of Detroit Red Wings players regretting shaking Claude Lemieux’s hand and maybe the other extreme of Martin Brodeur snubbing Sean Avery, right?

(It feels necessary to discuss Milan Lucic getting weird during the handshake lines, too. Ah, memories.)

Johansen admits that he was a Vancouver Canucks fan growing up, and while Kesler wasn’t one of his favorite players, he certainly cheered his endeavors. That … won’t happen again anytime soon, as you can note.

Johansen expects a full recovery from that surgery, so yes, we can all pencil in the rematch between those two Ryans in 2017-18.

Hot take: there won’t be handshakes.

Blues add Darryl Sydor as assistant coach

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The St. Louis Blues continued to assemble the coaching staff for Mike Yeo on Wednesday when they announced the hiring of former NHL defenseman Darryl Sydor.

Sydor previously served as an assistant on Yeo’s staff for several years when he was the head coach of the Minnesota Wild. Before joining the Blues, Sydor was an assistant coach for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves this past season.

“I am excited to have Darryl back on my staff,” Yeo said in a statement released by the team. “He was an outstanding teacher during our time in Minnesota and will add a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team.”

Before joining the coaching ranks Sydor was a defenseman in the NHL for 18 seasons, playing 1,291 games for the Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets and Blues. The Blues were his final stop in the NHL, playing 47 games for the team during the 2009-10 season. He was a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams, winning it with the Stars in 1998-99 and then with the Lightning in 2003-04.

The Blues hired Yeo to be their coach-in-waiting to work alongside Ken Hitchcock before the start of the 2016-17 season, but when Hitchcock was fired in the middle of the season Yeo was promoted a few months earlier than expected.

The Blues eliminated the Wild in the first-round of the playoffs this season but were defeated by the Nashville Predators in the second round.

For fourth time in five years Sergei Mozyakin is the KHL’s MVP

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The KHL handed out its awards for the 2016-17 season on Wednesday and it was Magnitogorsk Metallurg forward Sergei Mozyakin taking home the Golden Stick Trophy as the league MVP.

Given the season he had, and the career he has had in the KHL, this should not really be much of a surprise.

Mozyakin turned in one of the greatest performances in the history of the league this season by scoring 48 goals and recording 85 total points (both league records) in only 60 games.

Since the KHL formed in 2008-09 only three different players have won the Golden Stick award. Danis Zaripov won it during the inaugural season, while Alexander Radulov won it four times (three years in a row between 2009-10 and 2011-12, then again in 2014-15).

Mozyakin won it in 2012-13 and 2014-15, then in each of the past two seasons.

The 36-year-old forward was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the ninth-round (No. 262 overall) of the 2002 draft by never played a game in the NHL. He has spent his entire professional career playing in Russia where he has consistently been one of the best, most productive players in the league.

Among the KHL’s other award winners, Vasily Koshechkin was named the league’s top goalie, Oleg Znarok was the coach of the year, while Vladimir Tkachyov is the rookie of the year.