Cam Tucker


WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators – Game 4

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The Ottawa Senators can put the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on the brink of elimination, as the two teams meet in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday.

The Senators lead the series 2-1, getting off to a tremendous start in Game 3 and essentially cruising from there for the win. The Penguins’ coaching staff has decided to shake things up by announcing Matt Murray as the starting goalie for Friday’s game.

Murray, who backstopped Pittsburgh to a championship a year ago but missed the start of the 2017 playoffs due to injury, takes over the No. 1 duties from Marc-Andre Fleury, who has two shut outs in his last six games, but has also allowed four or more goals in three of those six starts.

While coach Mike Sullivan made a switch in net, it doesn’t change the fact Pittsburgh has only three goals in this entire series. That is something that will have to improve — and fast — if the Penguins are to turn this series around.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators (Sens lead 2-1)

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream live here)

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

For the second straight year, Sullivan gambles with goalies

Burrows a game-time decision for Senators

Guy Boucher explains why power plays get ‘difficult’ in the playoffs

Sens to wear Canadian flag stickers on their helmets

Ducks want Ritchie’s offensive instincts to become ‘more evident to the hockey world’

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Nick Ritchie scored the winning goal Sunday — on a wrist shot from near the side boards that hit off the head of Pekka Rinne and under the cross bar.

For the first time in the playoffs, Rinne allowed four goals in a game. That Ritchie shot counted as the fourth, as Anaheim evened the series, taking advantage of a less than stellar outing from Nashville’s goalie, who has been otherwise spectacular this spring.

“He’s obviously a butterfly goalie that goes down on most shots. If you hit it the right spot, it’s on most goalies these days because they’re all going down,” Ritchie told reporters.

“I think I got lucky and got the puck up there.”

That’s Ritchie’s third goal of these playoffs and second in the last three games. He has seen his ice time increase from just under 12 minutes per game during his first six games of the playoffs, to 15:42 per game in his last five outings. His shot totals have also seen an uptick.

Last summer, Ritchie was among the young players looking to make the leap to full-time NHL work. Taken 10th overall in 2014, the now 21-year-old forward had a decent first full season in the league, with 14 goals and 28 points in 77 games. At 6’2″ and 232 pounds, he brings size on the wing. But the Ducks are also trying to develop his offensive abilities as they search for production in these playoffs and the seasons to come.

“Nick Ritchie is a guy that has scored in a lot of games similar to tonight,” said coach Randy Carlyle.

“And that’s what our project is, is to continue him into a power forward and to have that release and that weapon that he possesses become more evident to the hockey world, because he — we feel that he has offensive instincts and can score.”

‘I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that’ — Ryan Johansen sounds off on Kesler


The Nashville Predators – Anaheim Ducks series has turned into a battle of Ryan versus Ryan.

One of the match-ups in this series is Ryan Johansen of the Predators up against agitating veteran center Ryan Kesler of the Ducks. The two could be seen jousting throughout Sunday’s Game 2, with Kesler appearing to catch Johansen with an apparent elbow in the third period.

Following the game, a 5-3 Ducks win to even the Western Conference Final at 1-1, Johansen absolutely sounded off on Kesler.

“He just blows my mind,” Johansen told reporters, just getting started with his rather unflattering opinion of the 32-year-old Kesler.

“I don’t know what’s going through his head out there. Like, his family and his friends watching him play, I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that. It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game. I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey and it sucks when you’ve got to pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”

So … Johansen … not a fan of Kesler. A sign, perhaps, that the latter is getting in the head of the former? It’s a bit awkward considering this:

Johansen still finished the game with a goal and an assist, but with the series heading back to Nashville and the Predators getting last change, it will be interesting to see how much coach Peter Laviolette tries to get his top young center away from Kesler and his antagonistic style.

Afterward, Laviolette was highly complimentary of Johansen’s game, calling his play “excellent” and his demeanor against Kesler “completely composed.”

“Obviously he’s a focal point, he’s a top center on their team but we take the mindset, ‘We’ve just got to be better than the guy across from you,'” Kesler told NBCSN afterward. “If that’s Johansen for me, I’ve got to be better than him then.”

Just something to keep an eye on as the series continues.

Ducks overcome poor start, defeat Predators to even Western Conference Final


The Anaheim Ducks won’t like their start to Game 2 against the Nashville Predators.

Everything else that occurred from the final minutes of the first period and beyond, however, they will be ecstatic about. The Ducks evened the Western Conference Final at 1-1 following a 5-3 victory on Sunday.

— The power play, which had struggled coming into this game, struck against what has been a red-hot Predators penalty kill since the beginning of the second round.

— They were far more assertive with the puck and on the offensive attack after the first period.

— The Ducks managed to score four goals on just 16 shots through two periods on Pekka Rinne, who gave up four goals in a single game for the first time in these playoffs. Nick Ritchie‘s shot off the helmet of Rinne and in late in the second period counted as the winner.

— After giving up two goals in the opening 8:32 of the first period, John Gibson was much better the rest of the way for Anaheim. He allowed one goal on 23 shots through the final two periods.

— Credit to Gibson for the way he played after the first half of the first period, but the Ducks held on for the win in part because of a frantic goal-mouth scramble in the third period. Gibson and his teammates went flying around the crease to block or stop every Nashville attempt for the equalizer.

Game 3 goes Tuesday in Nashville.

This game also featured quite a few antics away from the puck. Not everything went unnoticed. Ryan Kesler appeared to catch Ryan Johansen with an elbow up high in the third period. Those two went at each other all night it seemed, including being seen chirping each other while lined up, waiting for faceoffs.

Before that, Filip Forsberg caught Jakob Silfverberg with a stick to the nether regions.

Video: Rinne handcuffed by Ritchie shot off the mask

Pekka Rinne entered Game 2 of the Western Conference Final with an eye-popping save percentage of .950 in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

Well, it wasn’t his night Sunday.

With the Predators up 1-0 in the series — and with only two losses all post-season — Rinne gave up four goals on 16 shots through two periods.

He was beat on a slap shot from Sami Vatanen late in the first period, and from there, the Ducks seemed to gain life after a dreadful start at home.

The Ducks scored three times in the second period, including Nick Ritchie‘s wrist shot from near the side boards that glanced off the helmet of Rinne and under the cross bar for the goal (As seen above). That gave Anaheim its first lead of the night, as the Ducks look to even the series before it shifts to Nashville.

Tough night for both goalies, including Anaheim’s John Gibson. The Ducks and Predators had combined for seven goals on 37 shots through two periods.