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Penguins’ Hornqvist hurt after blocking shot vs. Capitals

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

Report: Devils GM plans to reach out to Kovalchuk’s agent next week

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Rumblings of a possible return to the NHL for Ilya Kovalchuk have continued for some time now, and it appears the New Jersey Devils are taking the next step in this process.

On Saturday, prior to the draft lottery, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported that Devils general manager Ray Shero plans to reach out to Kovalchuk’s agent next week to gauge Kovalchuk’s interest of a potential return.

Kovalchuk is now 34 years old, having spent the last four seasons with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL.

Getting Kovalchuk back for the Devils could provide an instant boost in scoring, which is an area New Jersey has struggled in. This past season, the Devils finished 28th in the league in goals for. Only the Canucks and Avalanche were worse in this category.

Kovalchuk had 32 goals and 78 points in 60 games this past season.

From NJ.com:

Kovalchuk would step in and immediately serve as a top-six winger for the Devils, Outside of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, the Devils constantly rotated wingers into the top six last season. Having him up top would add another scoring dimension and help the depth down the rotation by bumping a player down.

Kovalchuk has also been in the news for more than a possible NHL comeback. According to reports on Saturday, he will forego the upcoming World Hockey Championship for Russia in order to have knee surgery.

Pageau’s brilliant four-goal game lifts Senators to comeback OT win over Rangers

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Jean-Gabriel Pageau had himself a performance for the ages in Game 2 against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Pageau completed the hat trick to tie the game late in the third period, forcing overtime as Ottawa roared back from a late two-goal deficit. But he wasn’t done there. His best moment was still to come.

His fourth goal of the game was the winner, as he ripped a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa a thrilling 6-5 double overtime victory.

The Senators now take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Rangers, as it shifts back to Madison Square Garden.

On the deciding two-on-one rush, Pageau opted to keep his hot streak going, taking the shot instead of going for the pass.

For the Rangers, this could be a devastating loss.

Three times, they held a two-goal lead — thanks in part to a pair of goals from defenseman Brady Skjei, who is following up a strong regular season with what has so far been a very good post-season. The Senators, however, refused to go away.

Pageau recorded a pair of late goals in the third period, just 2:17 apart, erasing for good any lead New York had.

It was, until that point, shaping up to be a disappointing result for the Senators. Their power play not only went 0-for-4, but they conceded a pair of shorthanded goals.

Senators forward Clarke MacArthur left this game early in the second period, after taking a hit from Ryan McDonagh in the first period. He didn’t return. MacArthur has dealt with concussion problems in his career, however the club didn’t disclose any details of the apparent injury during the game.

Kadri defends controversial hit on Ovechkin

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In a playoff series, individual battles between players can sometimes provide the most intrigue.

Take what is happening between Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals and Nazem Kadri of the Maple Leafs.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime, pushing the Maple Leafs to the brink of elimination. That’s a big story, because the Capitals are favored to win this series and expected to go on a deep playoff run, but Toronto has made this a heck of a series, with four of five games going to OT.

What occurred between Ovechkin and Kadri is also making headlines.

Late in the first period, Kadri delivered a controversial hit on Ovechkin, who was hurt on the play, leaving the ice and unable to put pressure on his left leg. It could’ve been a defining moment for the Capitals this post-season.

Fortunately for them, Ovechkin returned to the game but it’s been pointed out by a few people in the media that, during the second period, he seemed more intent on going after Kadri than anything else. After all, Ovechkin is a star player and based on comments after the game, it’s obvious the Maple Leafs want to get under his skin.

For his part, Kadri defended the hit, which was penalized for tripping.

“I thought he got rid of the puck and I just kind of tried to get a piece of him and he tried to get out of the way,” Kadri told reporters. “It’s not like I stuck my knee out or got my arms high or anything like that. It happened pretty quick. From what I saw, I thought it was OK.

“At the end of the day, I’m cheating my teammates if I don’t try to get a piece of him because he’s dumping the puck in and going around our defenseman. At the end of the day, I’ve got no choice. I’ve got to try and hold him up and save my defensemen,” he added, per CSN Mid-Atlantic.

Late in the second period, Kadri was slashed on the arm by Ovechkin and on the back of the knee by Matt Niskanen — basically at the same time, sending him to the ice.

Washington coach Barry Trotz said he was going to keep his opinion of the Kadri hit to himself, adding he was “quite concerned” when the “face of this franchise” went down like he did. His Toronto counterpart, Mike Babcock, thought the hit was all right.

“It’s interesting. [Trotz] probably thought there should’ve been a major. I thought there should’ve been no penalty,” Babcock told reporters. “The other night when [Roman Polak‘s] done for the year, our bench thought it should’ve been a major and they thought it should be no penalty.”

For both teams, the only thing that matters now is winning that next game. The Maple Leafs are looking to force a Game 7. The Capitals are looking to survive a first-round scare.

Babcock is apparently quite confident in his team going into Game 6.