After spending the last three seasons in the KHL, Andrei Kostitsyn is hoping to take his services back to North America, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Kostitsyn, 30, was taken by the Montreal Canadiens with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry and went on to record 99 goals and 210 points in 379 contests with the Canadiens. However, many fans probably remember him best for an off-ice incident during the 2012 playoffs.
He recorded 13 goals and 35 points in 50 contests with Traktor Chelyabinsk and HC Sochi in 2014-15. With the campaign over, he’s believed to have entered into preliminary talks with unspecified NHL teams about a possible one-year deal.
The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks have engaged in a back-and-forth series that’s left each side with two wins. The last three games have been decided by just a goal and two of them have gone to at least double-overtime. So while Chicago was commonly viewed as the favorite going into this series, its fair to say that both squads have a real shot of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
The stakes will increase again tonight though as one of these teams will be pushed to the brink of elimination. The contest will start at 9:00 p.m. ET, but you can tune in as early as 8:00 p.m. for pregame coverage. The game will air on NBCSN and can be streamed via NBC Sports Live Extra:
After the Rangers’ 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the question of if New York could keep this up was raised. To that point the Rangers had been averaging just two goals per game and while they had been getting results with that minimal offensive output, there hasn’t been a team dating back to 1998 that’s won the Stanley Cup with an offense that anemic.
The three contests that have followed have been wild and a complete deviation from the type of games that we saw in the Rangers’ first two rounds. The sheer number of offensive weapons at the Lightning’s disposal has made them hard for the Rangers to contain even after their strong showings against Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals. However, the Rangers were able to nearly match the Lightning blow-for-blow in Game 3 and then in Game 4 everything worked out for New York in a 5-1 victory.
The fact that the Rangers are scoring is big by itself, but it’s the players that stepped up that has to be particularly encouraging for them. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis are star forwards, but they haven’t been major factors offensively in the playoffs. That changed in Game 4 when they combined for three goals and four points.
That has to be a relief for both of them.
“The games keep piling on, you get chances — of course you’re pressing,” said St. Louis, per the Tampa Bay Times. “The guys who tell you they don’t press, they’re lying.”
He also admitted that ended a goal drought gives him “a second wind,” per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
The question now is if Nash and St. Louis can build off of Friday’s strong showing. If they can, then Tampa Bay will have a tough time winning this series. However, the Lightning remain a dangerous team and if two of the Rangers’ top forwards immediately go cold again, then that could be a serious problem for New York.
The Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and Cedric Paquette as well as the Rangers’ Tanner Glass were all handed misconducts in the third period while 10 other minor penalties were issued over the span of just 2:25 minutes. You can see all of that below:
That’s the most late-game trouble these two squads have gotten into so far in the Eastern Conference Final and it will be interesting to see if that bleeds into Game 5 on Sunday. One thing is certain: With the series tied at 2-2, the stakes are very high going into that contest.
The New York Rangers were put in a tough position after goaltender Henrik Lundqvist surrendered six goals in back-to-back games. He responded with a great showing in Game 4 and his teammates were able to reward his efforts with plenty of support in a 5-1 victory Friday night.
Although the final score is unquestionably one-sided, the game arguably wasn’t. After a fairly even first period, the Lightning took off in terms of five-on-five shot attempts and scoring chances compared to the Rangers, as you can see in this chart courtesy of War on Ice:
A big part of the reason why the Rangers won anyways was Lundqvist. He turned aside 38 of 39 shots to keep the Rangers in this game during some of their leaner stretches. Given his recent struggles, the fact that he was able to respond tonight is huge. His ability to step up when his team needs him the most is likely part of the reason head coach Alain Vigneault didn’t even consider swapping goaltenders for Friday’s contest.
The Rangers were also able to take advantage of their power-play opportunities. Markers from Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash with the man advantage in the third period provided them with plenty of breathing room. The fact that those two found the back of the net is noteworthy in itself given that both have been snakebitten for the most part in the playoffs.
The Rangers evened the series at 2-2 and have reclaimed the home ice advantage in the process. The onus is now on Tampa Bay to win on the road, although that hasn’t been much of a problem for either team so far in this series.
.@NYRangers have scored 5 goals in back-to-back playoff games for 1st time since Apr. 16 and 18, 2008 when they posted two 5-3 wins over NJ.