Seven year itch, scratched: Pens win Stanley Cup

28 Comments

SAN JOSE — When Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin won their first Stanley Cup in 2009, few expected such a long wait for the second.

It took seven years, to the day in fact, but the wait is over — on Sunday, the Penguins became champions once again with a 3-1 win over San Jose in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Fittingly, it was Crosby who played a key role in the winning goal.

He set up Kris Letang at the 7:43 mark of the second period, and Letang’s sharp angle shot squeaked through Martin Jones, less than 90 seconds after Logan Couture had erased Brian Dumoulin‘s opening tally.

Patric Hornqvist scored the insurance marker into an empty net with 1:02 remaining.

With his goal, Letang became part of an elite group of Penguins. He, Ulf Samuelsson, Ron Francis and Max Talbot have scored the four Cup-winning goals in franchise history.

Letang almost didn’t have the chance to go down in Pittsburgh lore, however.

With Martin Jones standing on his head — again — the Sharks were able to hang around for entirety of tonight’s contest despite — again — being out-shot and out-possessed.

This dynamic was perhaps no better illustrated that in the second period, when Jones somehow kept Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz from converting on a wide open 2-on-1:

(To be fair, Kunitz and Malkin did their own part in keeping the puck out.)

With Jones playing the role of hero, San Jose was given a stay of execution in the late stages of the second period, and most of the third. But the Sharks were unable to get anything past Matt Murray, the rookie netminder that stood tall after a shaky effort in Game 5.

A big reason why?

They couldn’t get any shots on goal.

After a strong second frame in which they fired 13 shots on Murray and scored their lone goal, the Sharks went dead silent in the third, registering just two SOG.

Pittsburgh’s speed and stifling team defense deserves major credit for silencing the San Jose attack. The Sharks had major problems getting anything through the neutral zone, a problem that dogged them throughout the series.

As such, the Sharks will probably look back on this final with mixed emotions. Onlookers never got the sense they saw the true San Jose team in this final, as Pittsburgh dictated how things went right from the opening puck drop of Game 1.

Still, there are positives to be taken.

This was the deepest and most prolific playoff run in the franchise’s 25-year history, and the Sharks got breakout performances from Jones and Joonas Donskoi, who was arguably the team’s best skater.

For the Penguins? It was pure elation.

After a mediocre start to the year, a coaching change and a series of trades, Pittsburgh caught fire and was clearly the NHL’s top team — well deserving of Lord Stanley’s Mug. A new young star emerged in goal with Murray, and a patchwork defense featuring the likes of Justin Schultz, Ian Cole and Brian Dumoulin held strong in the face of some serious competition.

But in the end, though, it was Pittsburgh’s stars that got the job done. Crosby to Letang for the game-winner, and the Pens were back atop the hockey world.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.