Mike Hoffman

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Burrows a game-time decision for Senators

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Alex Burrows will be a game-time decision for the Ottawa Senators tonight against Pittsburgh.

Burrows was forced to leave Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final with a lower-body injury. He only logged 6:02 of ice time in the Sens’ victory, but still had time to register an assist on Mike Hoffman‘s goal in the opening minute of the contest.

“It’s not as bad as we thought,” head coach Guy Boucher told reporters this morning. “We’re going to go back and see with the therapist. He was doing treatment there. We’ll see if he’s okay for tonight. I mean, if he’s not, we’re okay. We’ve got enough guys ready to go. But we’re not talking about a long-term thing.

Burrows has no goals and five assists in these playoffs. The 36-year-old winger was traded from Vancouver at the deadline.

If Burrows can’t go tonight, Tommy Wingels could draw back into the lineup.

NHL nearing record for one-goal games in Stanley Cup Playoffs

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The NHL could be headed for a record-breaking number of one-goal games this postseason.

There have been 46 through Wednesday night, including 25 settled in overtime. Six more and the 2007 record of 51 one-goal games will fall.

“I think just throughout the league it’s so tight now,” Senators winger Clarke MacArthur told The Canadian Press. “Even the best team. You look at Pittsburgh — they’ve got All-Stars, but all the games are just (close).”

Eleven of the Senators’ 15 playoff games have been decided by a goal with eight resulting in wins (8-3-0). It’s not an accident either. Ottawa plays an extremely defensive brand of hockey designed by coach Guy Boucher, who arrived last May.

Boucher’s group was just above average with 40 games decided by a goal during the regular season. Detroit led the league with 45.

“There’s so many good players nowadays that can score very easily or make plays with not much time and space – that’s really what we try and focus on in here is to key in on their good guys and not give them odd-man rushes,” Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman said.

The 27-year-old Hoffman said he thinks teams are trying to limit mistakes against high-powered opponents with simple hockey. Playing careless, he said, means, “you’re going to get pounded. You give teams odd-man rushes the whole game, they’re going to score on a good amount of them.”

Pittsburgh was the highest-scoring team during the regular season, but has mustered only three goals through the first three games against Ottawa. Sidney Crosby, who led the NHL with 44 goals, has one in the series.

“You defend them well,” MacArthur said. “It’s not like the old days where – I don’t want to say they didn’t key on the top players – but you’re keying on the top players now. You’re literally building your shift around keeping them off the scoreboard. I’d hate to be one of the top guys.”

MacArthur wondered if increased speed and fewer enforcers across the league made for more even competition.

“There’s just no bad skaters really anymore,” he said. “They’re used to be five, six guys on each team where you’re like, `That guy can’t really move out here.’ He’s more of a shutdown guy or crash-and-bang (type). Everyone can skate now. Every D pairing. Every guy can move.”

Stellar goaltending might also be helping. The collective save percentage so far in these playoffs was .921 through Wednesday, ahead of the .917 mark last season.

Winning the game’s top prize inevitably means winning close games and it’s perhaps not surprising that the team with the most one-goal wins has taken the last four Cups, including Pittsburgh with eight in 2016. Ottawa is the current leader.

“It’s so tight,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after a one-goal win over Anaheim earlier this week. “The scores at this time of the year generally are fairly low. And you wonder if 1-0 is going to do it for the night.”

The Ducks won 12 games by a goal when the current record of 51 was set, including three of four against the Senators in the Stanley Cup Final.

Isles name Luke Richardson assistant coach

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It’s been rumored for a while, and on Thursday it became official — longtime NHL defenseman Luke Richardson has been hired as Doug Weight’s assistant coach in New York.

Richardson, 48, was an Oilers teammate of Weight’s for a few years during the early ’90s.

“Luke brings a tireless work ethic and outstanding character to our organization,” Weight said, in a release. “He’ll have his hands on every aspect of the team, including our systems, skill development and team culture. Luke’s coaching experience, including four years running an organization as Head Coach in Binghamton, make him an excellent addition to our staff.”

A veteran d-man with over 1,400 games played in Toronto, Edmonton, Philly, Columbus, Tampa Bay and Ottawa, Richardson has enjoyed good success in the coaching realm. He’s served as an assistant coach with the Sens, and as their bench boss in AHL Binghamton.

In his first year with Bingo, Richardson led the club to a 44-21-1-7 record. He was named the AHL’s Eastern Conference all-star coach in his second year.

Richardson’s been praised for his work developing young prospects. Upon departing the Sens organization last summer — he asked GM Pierre Dorion to be considered for the head coaching gig in Ottawa, but was turned down — the club noted that 13 of Richardson’s players were recalled from Binghamton last season.

Earlier, Richardson received accolades for his work with the likes of Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Unsurprisingly, he’s been linked to a variety of NHL jobs.

Richardson was considered a frontrunner for the Sabres gig that eventually went to Dan Bylsma and was interviewed by Ducks GM Bob Murray to replace Bruce Boudreau (the job eventually went to Randy Carlyle).

Most recently, Richardson coached Team Canada to victory at the Spengler Cup.

Video: Hoffman gives Senators 1-0 lead vs. Penguins within first minute

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Well, that didn’t take long.

People wondered if the Ottawa Senators would ride the wave of the series switching to their home arena on Wednesday, and while the first minute doesn’t tell the whole story, the early answer is a big “Yes.”

On the strength of a couple of strong early shifts, Mike Hoffman scored an odd little goal on Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Sens a 1-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins about 45 seconds into Game 3.

Check out that tally – Hoffman’s fifth of the Stanley Cup Playoffs – above. Here’s the tally in GIF form, too.

You can watch Game 3 on NBCSN, online and via the NBC Sports App. (Stream online here)

Penguins break through against Senators, tie series with Game 2 win

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You can understand if the Pittsburgh Penguins were frustrated during much of Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators, and Phil Kessel certainly showed it.

But, to their credit, they just kept hammering away as the Senators seemed content to “turtle” in their own zone, failing to register a shot on goal through about a period’s worth of game time. Kessel finally beat a game Craig Anderson on an extra-effort attempt, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win as the Penguins tied the series 1-1.

The Senators might have been accused of a “rope-a-dope” technique when it came to trying to counterattack, but they weren’t just leaning on the ropes when it came to the actual physical stuff. Dion Phaneuf delivered some huge hits, including one that possibly injured Bryan Rust, while Justin Schultz may also be hurt thanks to an innocuous Mike Hoffman check.

However you dole out the credits for hits, it was a nasty one at times, including when Evgeni Malkin, Kyle Turris and others were involved in a scuffle in the dying moments.

Marc-Andre Fleury grabbed his 10th career playoff shutout, making 23 saves in uneven waves from the Senators. It will be interesting to see if Guy Boucher deploys a similar strategy against Pittsburgh as the Eastern Conference Final goes along or if he’ll try to take advantage of the growing number of injuries for the Pens’ defense corps.

The narratives could have revolved around the Senators frustrating the Penguins and getting away with a … questionable style of play. They certainly did frustrate the Pens and almost escaped with a 2-0 series lead.

Pittsburgh got that key win, however, so the series will shift tied 1-1 as Games 3 and 4 will take place in Ottawa.

Game 3 takes place on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. (Stream online here)