Jason Brough

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 22:  Alexander Ovechkin #8 of Russia skates against USA at Ice Palace on May 22, 2016 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)

Russians feeling ‘much better’ after taking Canada to overtime, says Ovechkin


It wasn’t a win, but it was still good.

That’s how Russia’s captain, Alex Ovechkin, saw last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the World Cup favorites from Canada. The Russians actually managed to take a 2-1 lead in the third period, until a John Tavares shot sent it to sudden death with just over six minutes left in regulation. Ryan Getzlaf would then notch the winner in 3-on-3.

“Mentally it was very important for us that we didn’t lose the game right away,” said Ovechkin, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “We have a battle, get the lead. The boys feel much better right now for the future. …From our standpoint it was huge.”

Granted, the Canadians outshot their opponents by a wide margin, 48-26. If not for a solid Sergei Bobrovsky performance in goal, the final score wouldn’t have been so close.

But in the second period especially, Ovechkin felt the Russians held their own.

“I think we have a slow start, we play kind of slowly and we afraid to make mistake,” he said. “But in the second period, we play a great game. We played in their zone.”

Russia opens the World Cup tournament for real on Sunday against a stacked Sweden side. The Swedes will almost certainly improve on last night’s embarrassing loss to Team Europe, but they did look vulnerable in exhibition action, particularly in their own end.

Also in Russia’s group are Finland and Team North America.

Related: Henrik Lundqvist got lit up in exhibition play

Lundqvist had a tough time in World Cup exhibition play

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist sits on the bench during the third period after being pulled during game 5 in a first-round NHL playoff hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 23, 2016. The Penguins won 6-3, to clinch the best-of-seven games sereis 5-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Henrik Lundqvist is off to a slow start in the World Cup, but for Sweden’s sake, at least it’s only been exhibition. The Swedes open the tournament for real on Sunday versus Russia.

Last night, Lundqvist was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals on 22 shots in a 6-2 loss to Team Europe. On Saturday, it was three goals on just 14 shots when the Swedes defeated the Finns by a score of 6-3. His save percentage in exhibition play was an ugly .778.

“I don’t think we did a really good job in front of him,” defenseman Anton Stralman said yesterday, per NHL.com. “You look at the goals, there’s breakaways, there’s tips, individual mistakes. That cost us the game. I don’t blame him for any of the goals, but I’m sure he wants to catch a few of those.”

Lundqvist, 34, did not have a very good finish to the NHL season either. He had an .867 save percentage in five playoff games versus the Penguins. And just prior to that, he’d struggled down the stretch of the regular season, allowing 39 goals in his last 13 games combined.

Of course, he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt that he can bounce back. A tighter performance from his teammates on Sunday would help, because the Russians are loaded with scorers.

“I think you just have to learn from it, analyze it, and talk about the game and what was good about it, and then you move on,” Lundqvist said. “There were still a lot of good things that happened out there, and you focus on that, but also the things that’s not good enough, you try to correct them.”

Related: Rangers may need King Henrik now more than ever

Seguin’s ankle ‘should be fine’ after a few days of rest

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 18:  Tyler Seguin #91 of the Dallas Stars on the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on February 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Stars 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Tyler Seguin didn’t want Team Canada’s coaching staff to know how badly his ankle was hurting.

But he finally had to admit it, and now he’ll miss the World Cup. He was replaced yesterday by Ryan O’Reilly.

“He said to us, ‘You know I haven’t been very truthful,'” head coach Mike Babcock said of Seguin this morning, per ESPN.com.

“He tried to push through it. But he said even yesterday, when he started pushing through it, it started heating up right away. Now I don’t know what that means in medical terms but I know in coaching terms you’re not doing very good.”

It hasn’t been reported how Seguin suffered the injury, though it’s quite possible it occurred Friday in Columbus when he slid feet first into the boards in an exhibition game against the United States.

The injury was first reported to be to his knee.

“We are aware of the injury Tyler suffered while competing with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey,” said Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill in a statement. “We recognize the constraints of the tournament and understand Team Canada’s decision given the circumstances. Tyler will be returning to Dallas in the coming days and we will evaluate him fully at that point.”


No longer dealing with wrist injury, Tyler Johnson is pumped for the season to start

TAMPA, FL - MAY 18:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Tyler Johnson went from 72 points in 2014-15 to just 38 points in 2015-16. It was a sharp drop in production for the diminutive Lightning center, but it sounds like he had a pretty good excuse.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Johnson revealed that the broken wrist he suffered in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final was still a bother for much of last season.

“I had no strength, didn’t really have flexibility,” Johnson said. “It took me a long time to be able to do anything. It was pretty much about January I could finally do a push-up.”

He added that he’s healthy now, and that he “finished the summer stronger than I’ve ever been.”

This is a big year for the 26-year-old. He’s a pending restricted free agent, and he’s on a team where the salary cap is expected to force some tough decisions.

“I can’t wait for this season to start, to really show what I can do,” he said.

After ‘adventure’ on Friday, Carey Price gets another start for Team Canada

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Carey Price #31 of Canada makes a save against Norway during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Friday in Columbus, Carey Price made his long-awaited return to the net, and it turned into an “adventure” against the Americans. He allowed three goals on 24 shots, looking a lot like a goalie that hadn’t played in a while.

Tonight in Pittsburgh, Price will start again for Team Canada. The opponent is Team Russia, with all its offensive stars, so it won’t get any easier for the Montreal Canadiens’ MVP.

“He gets an opportunity to play again,” head coach Mike Babcock said yesterday, per the Toronto Sun. “He hasn’t played in a long time, didn’t have the kind of game he’d like his first time out. He’s going back in the net. [Corey Crawford] is backing up. Then we’ll set up our rotation for the tournament.”

Translation: another shaky performance by Price and it might be Crawford or Braden Holtby between the pipes when Team Canada plays for real on Saturday.

Crawford was brilliant in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Team USA in Ottawa. He stopped 10 of 10 shots after Holtby had started and allowed two goals on 13 shots.