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.

 

Jankowski ‘continues to impress’ at Flames camp

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Mark Jankowski made his Calgary Flames debut last season. It appears he’s making quite a case to at least start the new campaign in the National Hockey League.

On Friday, he notched his third goal of the preseason, helping the Flames to a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes. Make that three goals in three exhibition games for Jankowski, Calgary’s first-round pick from the 2012 NHL Draft.

Once considered an “off-the-board” pick in that opening round, the 6-foot-4 center has developed into a very intriguing prospect, particularly after an impressive 2016-17 season down in Stockton, scoring 27 goals and 56 points in 64 AHL games. He appeared in one NHL game last season, and is leaving an impression during this year’s training camp, too.

Read more: Looking to make the leap — Mark Jankowski

“The confidence thing, right? These young players grow more confident as it goes,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said of the 23-year-old Jankowski following last night’s game.

“I thought he played well tonight. I thought he was better tonight than he was against Vancouver (on Wednesday) and he just continues to impress everybody.”

Calgary has three more preseason games remaining on their schedule, which could provide more of an opportunity for Jankowski to prove himself to the Flames coaching staff ahead of the regular season.

“I’m just trying to get better every day and keep on showing the coaching staff and management what I can bring to this team,” Jankowski told reporters.

“As camp goes on and it gets thinner and thinner, I just have to keep on doing that and get in some preseason games against almost full NHL lineups. That’s when you can really show your stuff, show you can play at this level and have an impact.”

Hossa undergoes ‘independent medical evaluation’ to determine if he’s eligible for LTIR

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Marian Hossa and the Chicago Blackhawks announced in June that the 38-year-old forward will miss the entire 2017-18 season with a skin disorder.

However, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the National Hockey League has yet to determine if Hossa will be eligible for long-term injured reserve.

“Marian Hossa underwent an independent medical evaluation several days ago,’’ NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘We are waiting for the report. Once we have that, we should be in a position to determine his proper status.’’

Hossa’s total salary is only $1 million for this year. His cap hit remains at $5.275 million.

From CSN Chicago:

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below it the day the regular season begins. If the Blackhawks place Hossa on LTIR, it wouldn’t take effect until the second day of the regular season. So on Day 1 of the season, the Blackhawks would still be carrying Hossa’s $5.275 cap hit.

Once the LTIR would take effect, though, the Blackhawks would have wiggle room. If they spent to the $75 million cap, they could utilize Hossa’s entire $5.275 million cap hit on other players.

While there are salary cap implications for Chicago with Hossa’s absence, not having him in the Blackhawks lineup is a difficult loss. Yes, he’s approaching 40 years of age, with more than 1,300 NHL regular season games under his belt. But last season, he also posted 26 goals and 45 points — still very productive at his age.

It was reported, prior to the Blackhawks announcing that Hossa had this skin condition, that there was a “legitimate possibility” Hossa had played his last NHL game.

Karlsson is back skating, but ‘we don’t want him to get too excited,’ says Boucher

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The good news? Erik Karlsson hit the ice to skate with his Ottawa Senators teammates on Saturday.

“Back at it,” is what the star defenseman wrote in an Instagram post, which included a photo of him on the ice in a blue jersey.

It’s certainly an exciting development for the Senators and their fans. Karlsson was a dominant player for Ottawa during the Stanley Cup playoffs despite playing with a foot injury that later required surgery, with an expected recovery time of four months.

Head coach Guy Boucher, however, offered some cautionary words on Karlsson’s status. Basically, it’s exciting, but Boucher doesn’t want anyone — Karlsson included — to get too far ahead of themselves right now.

“It’s a positive thing, but we don’t want to get too excited. It’s a second step,” said Boucher, according to NHL.com.

“The first step was to let the therapists tell us when it was adequate to put him on the ice, because you need to get the flexibility and the strength off the ice before we could put [him] on the ice. Yesterday they apparently put the skates on to see how it felt and [went] very lightly on the ice, and they felt he was able this morning [to] get dressed and be with the boys.

“Basically, this is the second step, but there’s quite a few steps before we get to him playing. We don’t want him to get too excited.”

His status for the Senators’ season opener against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 has been up in the air since he underwent the operation. Karlsson admitted earlier this month that he wasn’t sure if he’d be ready for that game.

Ottawa is dealing with a few injury situations right now, with four preseason games remaining on their schedule. Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL and given how important he is to the Senators, there is absolutely no need to rush him back into the lineup if he’s not ready.

 

NHL suspends Tom Wilson two preseason games for interference

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Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended for two preseason games for interference, after his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas during Friday’s exhibition game.

The incident occurred early in the third period, as Wilson caught Thomas with a heavy and late hit along the boards at the Blues bench.

“Over a full second after Thomas loses control of the puck, well past the point where Thomas is eligible to be checked, Wilson comes in from the side and delivers a forceful body check, knocking Thomas to the ice,” stated a member of the NHL Department of Player Safety in a video explanation of the suspension.

“In addition to the lateness of the hit, what elevates this hit to the level of supplemental discipline is the predatory nature and force of the hit. Wilson tracks Thomas for some time and alters his course to ensure he is able to finish his hit. Then, with the puck long gone from Thomas’ control, Wilson finishes the check with force.”

The Capitals continue their preseason schedule Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. They also play the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.