Montreal Canadiens

Tampa expecting Coburn, Killorn to play Game 1

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The Tampa Bay Lightning could have forward Alex Killorn and defenseman Braydon Coburn in the lineup when they open up their first round playoff matchup with the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

Killorn suffered an undisclosed injury in an April 2nd game against the Ottawa Senators and missed the final three games of the regular season.

“We planned for today to be the first day for me to skate with the guys and stuff,” said Killorn following Monday’s practice. “So, I felt good. It’s progressing well. I think by Thursday, I’ll be fine.”

The 25-year-old had 15 goals and 38 points in 71 games during the regular season and will get his first taste of NHL playoff action on Thursday.

“I think there’s going to be a ton of adrenaline in the first playoff game,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to affect me that much, maybe a shift or two just to kind of get into things. Skating right now, even though it’s clearly not a game, I don’t feel like I’m sucking air.”

Coburn played in just four regular season games with the Lightning after being acquired at the trade deadline from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The 30-year-old suffered a lower body injury in Tampa’s 1-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on March 10 and missed the final 14 games with the injury.

P.K. Subban seems OK with being a ‘villain’

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Some of the best stories in sports involve villains, real or perceived.

Hockey has a Claude Lemieux here and a Chris Pronger there, yet you don’t see a ton of players embracing that role. P.K. Subban didn’t outright say he strives to be the Joker to someone else’s Batman, but he didn’t deny that boos fuel his fire in an interesting interview with NHL.com.

“I’m not saying that I do. I’m not saying that I don’t,” Subban said with a grin. “But I don’t ask them to do that. When I go to Winnipeg, I don’t ask them to boo me. Philly, it’s the same thing. Pittsburgh, Toronto. I’m from Toronto; they still boo me.”

” … Let’s just say it doesn’t bother me.”

For some players, silencing a hostile crowd can be almost as rewarding – maybe more rewarding – than bringing home fans to their feet. It doesn’t hurt that Subban, 25, has the skill to do so.

In fact, Subban thinks he’s playing the best hockey of his career, explaining how he’s learned when to be aggressive and when to take his foot off the gas.

Subban also compared his style to that of upcoming opponent and fellow blueline star Erik Karlsson, yet it wasn’t really juicy enough to be worth noting.

(Hey, give Subban some time to fully embrace this “villain” thing …)

Report: Oilers to offer Schultz a one-year deal

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The Edmonton Oilers plan to offer restricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz a one-year deal.

Schultz appeared in 81 games for the Oilers this season registering 31 points to go along with a minus-17.

The 24-year-old signed a one-year, $3.675 million contract last August.

Following the deal, GM Craig MacTavish said that he believed Schultz had Norris Trophy potential in the future. The Norris talk was quickly shelved when Schultz was a healthy scratch in November.

Once Jeff Petry was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens at the deadline, Schultz led all Oilers in ice time averaging 22:37 a night.

Shining Star: Benn wins Art Ross Trophy in dying seconds

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Much like playoff berths, the Art Ross Trophy came down to the last minute. Actually, it was the last second, as Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn barely won it on a Saturday.

The 25-year-old generated a four-point night to hit 87, edging John Tavares’ 86 and Sidney Crosby’s 84. Benn came into the night tied with Tavares at 83, so it was a brisk final chase.

Benn’s third point on Saturday was a pretty fluky empty-net goal:

Tavares would have taken the scoring title in a tie since he had the goals tie-breaker, so Benn made sure that happened by assisting on a Cody Eakin with just nine seconds remaining against the Nashville Predators:

Benn needed a ridiculous finish to jump up the points leaderboard, and he did it. He scored a ridiculous 10 points in a three-game span, and it’s almost as impressive when you go back further (including 16 points in seven contests). Really, Benn has been on fire since the middle of January.

Barely edging Tavares in such dramatic fashion makes this photo from the 2014 Olympics that much more fun to deploy:

source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Tavares can one-up Benn in future conversations since his New York Islanders made the playoffs this season, but his Stars counterpart takes home the hardware.

(And he probably doesn’t care that 87 points stand as the lowest full-season Art Ross output since Gordie Howe’s 86 in 1962-63, either.)

Update: The NHL released details on the other award winners based on regular season results (rather than any form of voting). Along with confirming Benn as the Art Ross Trophy winner and Alex Ovechkin as the Maurice Richard champ – he smoked everyone else with 53 goals – it turns out that the William Jennings will be split between goalies Carey Price and Corey Crawford.

Some more details in that regard from the NHL:

The Blackhawks and Canadiens finished the regular season tied with a League-low 189 goals allowed, and Crawford and Price saw the most action for their respective teams. This marks the first time that goaltenders on two teams claimed the Jennings Trophy since 2002-03, when New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and Philadelphia’s Roman Cechmanek and Robert Esche captured Jennings honors after the Devils and Flyers tied for the League’s lowest goals-against total.

Goalie Nods: Miller returns, Pavelec gets break after three straight shutouts

News and notes from around the crease…

Ryan Miller will start for the first time since Feb. 22

Miller suffered a knee injury that has cost him more than a month of ice time and potentially his opportunity to lead the Canucks in the playoffs. That’s because Eddie Lack was great in Miller’s absence and has been solid for the bulk of the campaign. Lack did admittedly get off to a rocky start, but he quickly put that behind him and now has a 2.45 GAA and .921 save percentage in 41 contests.

Those numbers are superior to Miller’s 2014-15 statistics, but Vancouver still might need him during the playoffs. With that in mind, he’ll have an opportunity to shake off the rust in tonight’s game against Edmonton.

Ondrej Pavelec will be a healthy scratch despite three straight shutouts

At any other point in the season, Pavelec being benched, let alone scratched, after posting three consecutive shutouts would be a big controversy, but with the Winnipeg Jets’ playoff position secure, this isn’t a shocking development. By starting Michael Hutchinson against the Calgary Flames this afternoon, it gives him a chance to stay sharp ahead of the postseason while also allowing Pavelec to get a breather after playing in three games over four days.

Connor Hellebuyck, 21, is projected to serve as the backup goaltender for Winnipeg today.

Elsewhere…

Sharks at Kings: Alex Stalock will play between the pipes for San Jose. It’s not known who will play for Los Angeles, but Jonathan Quick is typically a good bet.

Wild at Blues: Devan Dubnyk vs. Brian Elliott

Pens at Sabres: Marc-Andre Fleury will start for Pittsburgh. There’s a fair chance Anders Lindback will play for the Sabres, but that isn’t confirmed.

Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier

Devils at Panthers: Cory Schneider vs. Al Montoya

Blue Jackets at Islanders: No confirmed starters yet for this one, but Islanders goaltender Michal Neuvirth has an undisclosed injury and Kevin Poulin was recalled as a result.

Red Wings at Canes: Petr Mrazek vs. Cam Ward

Bruins at Lightning: Tuukka Rask will probably start for Boston; Ben Bishop will get the nod for Tampa Bay.

Preds at Stars: Carter Hutton vs. Jhonas Enroth

Hawks at Avs: Scott Darling vs. Semyon Varlamov

Ducks at Coyotes: Neither team has revealed its starter.