Cam Tucker

Penguins dominate the Bolts to take series lead

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Given how this game began to unfold, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Pittsburgh Penguins would break through for the win.

The Penguins dominated the second period, firing 21 shots on goal at Andrei Vasilevskiy before Carl Hagelin finally broke a scoreless deadlock with only 10 seconds remaining in the middle period. They had finally broken through.

There was no stopping the Penguins — at least not for the remainder of Game 3 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Penguins now lead the Eastern Conference Final 2-1, following a thorough thumping of the Lightning by a final score of 4-2 on Wednesday. It’s hard to fault the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy, who has been thrust into this series after the injury to Ben Bishop and stopped 44 of 48 shots faced Wednesday.

This result comes after Tampa Bay’s head coach Jon Cooper felt his team had “…more in the tank than what we’ve showed.”

(Graph courtesy hockeystats.ca)

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The trio of Nick Bonino, Phil Kessel and Hagelin was again a catalyst for the Penguins.

Hagelin opened the scoring and Kessel increased that lead early in the third period, with that line providing a combined five points on Pittsburgh’s first two goals of the night.

After getting outshot 21-6 in the middle period, the Lightning did make things interesting.

Just 14 seconds after Kessel scored, Tyler Johnson cut the Tampa Bay deficit to one goal. But that was as close as the Lightning would get. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz added to the Pittsburgh lead with goals 2:22 apart, securing the win on the road.

Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist didn’t play a single shift for the remaining 7:06 of the third period, with reports saying he blocked a shot prior to leaving the ice.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan acknowledged that Hornqvist did leave the bench, but didn’t provide an update beyond, “So, we’ll probably know more tomorrow.”

Video: Penguins cap off dominant second period with late Hagelin goal

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Time almost ran out, but the Pittsburgh Penguins were rewarded for a dominant second period with a late goal to give them the lead in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final.

With the series tied 1-1 heading into Wednesday’s contest, Carl Hagelin finally beat Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy with 10 seconds remaining in the second period to open the scoring.

The Penguins outshot the Lightning 21-6 in the middle frame.

 

 

Report: Senators likely won’t qualify RFA d-man Wiercioch

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 11: Patrick Wiercioch #46 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on February 11, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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After a drop in overall production and being included in trade speculation prior to the deadline, pending restricted free agent Patrick Wiercioch likely won’t be tendered a qualifying offer by the Ottawa Senators, according to a report from the Ottawa Sun.

The 25-year-old defenseman recorded just five assists in 52 games this past season for the Senators, with a cap hit of $2 million, as per General Fanager. Two seasons ago, Wiercioch scored four goals and a career-best 23 points.

From the Ottawa Sun:

This means Wiercioch will have to shop himself around as a unrestricted free agent on July 1.

With a cap hit of $2 million last season, the Senators would have to hand over a $2.7 million qualifying offer to retain Wiercioch’s rights because that’s what he made in real dollars in 2015-16.

The Senators selected Wiercioch in the second round of the 2008 draft. He was signed to a three-year, $6 million contract in July 2013 after an impressive rookie campaign.

MacLellan, Nill, Rutherford named finalists for NHL GM of the Year Award

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07:  Caps senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan of the Washington Capitals speaks with the media prior to the game against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on January 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Brian MacLellan (Washington Capitals), Jim Nill (Dallas Stars), and Jim Rutherford (Pittsburgh Penguins) have been named finalists for the league’s GM of the Year Award, the NHL announced Wednesday.

The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 22.

All three GMs are first-time finalists for the award. Interesting to note that MacLellan and Nill managed teams that saw their coaches — Barry Trotz in Washington and Lindy Ruff in Dallas — named finalists for the 2016 Jack Adams Award.

MacLellan: MacLellan helped build a Capitals team that captured the 2015-16 Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top regular season team. Last summer, MacLellan made two huge additions to the Capitals by signing ‘Mr. Game 7’ Justin Williams and trading for T.J. Oshie. While the Capitals enjoyed a hugely successful regular season, leading the league in wins (56) and points (120) and finishing second in goals-for per game (3.02) and goals-against per game (2.33), they were ousted in the second round of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nill: The Stars are arguably the most exciting team in the NHL, with a game based on skill and speed, and Nill has helped build a roster capable of playing that style. The Stars finished atop the Western Conference in the regular season with 50 wins and second in the league’s overall standings with 109 points. Already equipped with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and John Klingberg, Nill brought to the Stars Patrick Sharp in a trade with Chicago and defenseman Johnny Oduya in free agency. Where the Stars have faced an abundance of questions, especially during the playoffs and in the wake of their second-round exit, is with goaltending and the duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen.

Rutherford: The Penguins have some of the most talented players in the world on their roster —  such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel — but this was a team that didn’t hit stride until the second half of the season. Rutherford fired head coach Mike Johnston in December and replaced him with Mike Sullivan. The Penguins went 33-16-5 under Sullivan to qualify for the post-season. They’re now in the Eastern Conference Final. The Penguins acquired Carl Hagelin and Trevor Daley and traded David Perron and Rob Scuderi during the season, after bringing in Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Eric Fehr and Kessel during the off-season. Rutherford’s ability to “retool” the team’s roster earned the recent praise of Sullivan.

 

WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Lightning – Game 3

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 16:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates after scoring a goal in overtime against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning to win Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final with a score of 3 to 2 during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Consol Energy Center on May 16, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Eastern Conference Final has shifted to Tampa Bay, all even at one-game apiece between the Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both teams look to gain the lead in this series in Game 3 at Amalie Arena on Wednesday. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Bolts have ‘more in the tank than what we’ve showed’: Cooper

Sullivan praises Rutherford for ‘retooling’ Penguins roster

Cooper optimistic Bishop will play again in series