James O'Brien

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames - Game Six

Video: Hudler snaps slump with slapper

The Calgary Flames have a long way to go to really push the Anaheim Ducks in this second-round series, but getting more from Jiri Hudler wouldn’t hurt.

He was banged up in Game 1, which might be part of the reason that the Flames’ top regular season scorer has been held off the board through the start of this series. Hudler finally found the net in Game 5, giving Calgary a coveted 1-0 lead.

He did so with authority, too:

Update: The Ducks managed to tie it 1-1 with a Ryan Kesler goal, but the lead didn’t last very long, as Johnny Gaudreau regained Calgary’s lead with a 2-1 tally (which earned Hudler a helper):

Rangers survive Caps’ mad rush, force Game 7

Brooks Orpik, Dan Boyle
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The New York Rangers managed a 4-3 win to force a Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, but not after the kind of finish that likely left fans hyperventilating.

In a way, quick plot twists only seem to fit the ending considering the beginning of Game 6 … and really, this skin-tight series in general.

Chris Kreider didn’t just begin the scoring with a goal 40 seconds in; he barely beat the clock with a 2-0 goal that came with .3 seconds remaining in the first period.

The Capitals dominated the second period, generating an 18-4 shot advantage. They only were able to beat Henrik Lundqvist once, however, and entered the final frame down 2-1.

The theme of quick goals continued as Rick Nash made it 3-1 just 54 seconds into the third (Jason Chimera’s goal came less than 30 seconds into the second period, giving the opening minute of each period a tally).

Dan Boyle’s 4-1 tally seemed like it would make this game a laugher … instead, it eventually stood as the game-winner.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Joel Ward combined for two goals in less than three minutes to make things very tense in the final 10 minutes or so. That line with Jason Chimera might be a trio to watch, as Barry Trotz took Ward off of a line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Ovechkin’s line failed to score a point for the fourth consecutive game, even if he created some havoc, including this dangerous chance and big hit on Ryan McDonagh:

The bottom line is that many won’t give Ovechkin & Co. the benefit of the doubt, even in a series where goals were hard to come by (at least until tonight) and Washington enjoyed significant luck in building what was once a 3-1 series lead in the first place.

These Capitals and Rangers series have been tight since it’s been Ovechkin vs. Lundqvist (who was stellar tonight), so it all seems fitting that this one is going the distance. With Washington’s dignity and the Rangers’ outstanding season on the line, the stakes will certainly be high at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Nerves for New York: Caps close gap, Ovechkin hits McDonagh

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals
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As of this writing, it’s hard to believe that the New York Rangers had a 4-1 lead in the third period. It’s been a dizzying series of events for the Rangers, as the Washington Capitals are now within striking distance with a 4-3 deficit thanks to a wild set of circumstances.

Evgeny Kuznetsov made a nice play to cut the lead down to 4-2 a little less than eight minutes into the third period (and about three-and-a-half minutes after Dan Boyle scored what seemed like a laugher of a 4-1 goal):

Joel Ward continued his hot play with Kuznetsov, scoring a surprising goal less than three minutes later to make it 4-3.

Alex Ovechkin generated some threatening attempts down the stretch, and left plenty of Rangers fans worried with a big hit on Ryan McDonagh.

McDonagh left for the locker room, but was at least able to briefly return.

Canada clinches Group A top spot at World Hockey Championship

IHOCKEY-WORLD-SUI-CAN
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Canada hopped on a lot of rebounds to blow out Switzerland 7-2 on Sunday, locking down the top spot in Group A at the 2015 World Hockey Championship.

With that, they’ll hit the quarterfinals with an advantageous matchup (they’ll take on Group B’s fourth-place squad) on Thursday.

Again, it was all about gritty goals, as the IIHF runs it down:

In fact, if you added the total distance the puck traveled for the seven Canadian goals, it wouldn’t be more than 25 meters. Nonetheless, they all count.

The Canadians scored by committee, with Sean Couturier leading the pack with a three-point performance (one goal, two assists). They’re a team loaded with NHL talent, so it’s not surprising that they’re dominating the early goings so far.

The Czech Republic, Russia and U.S. also clinched spots in the quarterfinal round as of today. You can read more about the Americans’ success here.

Video: Kreider begins and ends first period with huge goals

point3
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The New York Rangers are pressing the Washington Capitals hard to push this series to seven games, and Chris Kreider has figured into much of their success.

Kreider scored the tying goal with less than two minutes left in Game 5, and he was on the ice during the overtime-winner. He truly combined will and skill just 40 seconds into Game 6, as he took advantage of some open space and flat-out overpowered Matt Niskanen:

He’s not just scoring, either, as his physical style is rubbing some the wrong way. He raised Washington’s ire with a questionable hit on young forward Andre Burakovsky.

Update: Scoring 40 seconds into the first period is one thing, but what about making it 2-0 with .3 seconds remaining in the opening frame? Kreider did both, giving the Rangers what could be an enormous lead (at least considering how these two goalies are playing).

This indeed must have felt like a heart-breaker for the Capitals:

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Interesting tidbit: the Rangers have had a knack for timely scoring lately: