We got two critical games off the bat tonight as the Senators and Penguins are both fighting to extend their campaigns in Game 5 against Montreal and the New York Rangers respectively. Ottawa and Pittsburgh had nearly polar opposite seasons with the Senators going on an amazing late season run just to make the playoffs while the Penguins limped in on the strength of their impressive first half. The one thing they have in common is that neither was regarded as a favorite going into their respective series. We’ll see if they can surprise people over the next several days or if their stories will come to an end tonight.
The Penguins’ contest against the Rangers will start at 7:00 p.m. ET and air on NBCSN, but the pregame show begins at 6:30. In addition to NBCSN, you can also stream the contest online via NBC Sports Live Extra:
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Game 5 of the Montreal vs. Ottawa series is also set to start at 7:00 p.m. ET and that game can be viewed on CNBC and streamed online:
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Finally, the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues will battle for an edge in their hard fought series tonight. Game 5 will start at 9:30 p.m. ET and will air on NBCSN. Please note that while the channel will stay the same between the Penguins-Rangers and Wild-Blues contest, each game has its own unique URL for the livestream:
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have fallen short again in the playoffs, but this time there’s no question that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did everything he could to keep them in this series. As people look for other causes for the team’s shortcomings their glut of injured defensemen certainly come to mind, but there is another factor that people are likely going to talk about a lot over the coming days: The fact that superstar Evgeni Malkin had no points in the series.
To be fair to Malkin, he might have been playing injured. He did miss some games towards the end of the regular season and it’s hard for us to know if he was anywhere close to 100% by the time the playoffs started. He certainly wasn’t shying away from the blame though after the New York Rangers eliminated Pittsburgh tonight.
“I want to say sorry to fans, to my teammates,” Malkin said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi. “I know I’m a leader on this team. Not so good game. I don’t know.”
As for the concerns about his health, Malkin downplayed them. He admitted to having “a couple of small injuries,” but he said he wasn’t dealing with anything major. He also stated that if he’s on the ice, that means he’s healthy. We have all witnessed a lot of cases of players stepping on to the ice without being healthy though.
All the same, Malkin’s future is fuzzy. He’s certainly still a dangerous player, but the two-time Art Ross Trophy winner has been battered by injuries in recent years. He’ll be 29 years old in July and still has seven more seasons at a cap hit of $9.5 million.
The Ottawa Senators earned a 5-1 victory over Montreal in Game 5 tonight, but just before the contest ended, Canadiens forward Brandon Prust started a skirmish by spearing Craig Anderson.
The Senators goaltender took exception to that and things ballooned from there, as you can see below:
Brandon Prust got a double minor while Patrick Wiercioch was handed a roughing penalty. P.K. Subban and Eric Gryba each got a 10-minute misconduct.
“Sure sign of frustration is when they’re taking cheap shots at your goaltender,” Senators coach Dave Cameron said after the game, per the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan. “I’ve known Prust a long time. That was cheap.”
Montreal certainly has plenty of reasons to be frustrated with Anderson. The Canadiens had a 3-0 series lead, but they’ve lost two in a row and Anderson has now stopped 120 of 123 shots in this series.
While the incident seemed to bother Anderson in the heat of the moment, after the contest he was willing to move on.
“No harm, no foul,” he told TSN’s Ian Mendes.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers battled fiercely for five games. Each contest was determined by just one goal and the final two went to overtime.
But at the end of the day, the Penguins could only win once and the Rangers officially eliminated them with a 2-1 victory tonight.
Carl Hagelin scored the overtime marker:
This is the sixth straight year Pittsburgh couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. This time around though, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t the story. He did all that could be expected of him in this series, posting a 2.12 GAA and .927 save percentage in five contests.
Instead fingers will likely be pointed at Evgeni Malkin, who fired six shots on goal Friday night but still finished the series without a single point. The Penguins lacked offensive depth in this series as well as Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist accounted for half of Pittsburgh’s eight goals.
At the same time, it would be wrong to ignore the fact that the Penguins were missing defensemen Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, and Olli Maatta as well as forwards Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett due to injuries. That’s a lot of talent to be stuck on the sidelines.
Still, another Penguins season that began with Stanley Cup aspirations is over while the Presidents’ Trophy winning Rangers are moving forward. The Rangers fell in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. They’re one step closer to getting back there now.
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Vladimir Tarasenko has been amazing when it’s come to playoff hockey. Although the Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Tarasenko found the back of the net four times in that six game series. Now 23 years old, he’s been doing even better against the Wild in 2015.
Tarasenko found the back of the net for the sixth time in the first round series early in Game 5 tonight. What makes that feat even more remarkable is the fact that he’s only needed nine shots on goal to reach that total.
Although to be fair, Alexander Steen deserves a lot of the credit for Tarasenko’s latest marker, as you can see below:
Tarasenko has been one of the main reasons for the Blues’ success in 2014-15 as he scored 37 goals and 73 points in 77 regular season contests.
As strong a series as he’s having though, it hasn’t been enough to put Minnesota on the ropes. The series was tied at 2-2 going into tonight’s contest and Minnesota’s Marco Scandella responded to Tarasenko’s goal roughly three minutes later.