The St. Louis Blues threw everything they could at Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday night but it wasn’t anywhere near enough in what turned out to be a blowout 5-1 loss, sending the series back to Boston for a Game 7 on Wednesday night.
In a postseason where he has played at a Conn Smythe level from the very beginning, Rask played perhaps his best game of the year on Sunday night when his team needed him most.
He also got a little bit of help from a teammate in the second period.
With the Bruins killing off another penalty and trying to hold on to a 1-0 lead, a bouncing puck snuck behind Rask and seemed to be destined for the back of the net. It was at that point that Bruins defender Charlie McAvoy just happened to be in the right place, at the right time to knock the puck out of mid-air, helping to save a goal. Adding to the absurdity of the play is that once McAvoy knocked the puck away from the goal line, it hit Rask in the back where he pinned it against his body with his glove.
“It hit the post and then it was bouncing there,” said Rask after the game. “I think [McAvoy] hit it with his stick and I kind of heard it and I didn’t know where it was. I figured it might be somewhere behind me so I was trying to corral it with my hand behind my back and then it stuck in my pants and it fell somewhere. [McAvoy] made a great play to keep it out of the net originally. It’s never a good thing for a goalie to be [have your back] facing the play, but luckily it stayed out.”
A lot of things could have gone wrong there for the Bruins, and none of them did.
You can see the entire sequence in the video above.
McAvoy is one of the Bruins’ best offensive defensemen and an outstanding talent with the puck on his stick. But he is an outstanding all-around player and top-pairing defender and the defensive portion of his game was on display here at a huge moment.
An historic week for Alex Ovechkin was capped off with a hat trick Saturday afternoon during a 6-4 win over the Islanders. His three goals pushes him past Mario Lemieux and into ninth place with 692, tying him with Steve Yzerman.
Ovechkin opened the scoring and then passed Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in the third period as the Capitals mounted their comeback. He ended his day with an empty-netter to seal the win and tie Yzerman. The Islanders led 4-1 entering the third period.
Powered by two consecutive hat tricks, Ovechkin has eight goals in his last three games and 10 in his previous six.
With three goals Saturday — the third time he’s recorded hat tricks in consecutive games — Ovechkin now has 34 on the season as he eyes a ninth 50-goal season. His hat trick was the 26th of his NHL career, tying him with Maurice Richard for eighth all-time.
Next in Ovechkin’s sights? Mark Messier, who finished with 694 goals in his career.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Dallas Stars activated Stephen Johns before their game Saturday night in Minnesota, clearing the way for the defenseman’s first game in almost 22 months.
Forward Radek Faksa was placed on injured reserve to make room for Johns on the active roster.
Johns has been out since late in the 2017-18 season because of post-traumatic headaches. The Stars have said the condition isn’t related to concussions.
The 27-year-old Johns hasn’t played since March 29, 2018, at the Wild. It was the last of a career-high 75 games in his third NHL season. Johns missed the last five games that year before sitting out all of last season as headaches persisted.
He played two games on a conditioning assignment with the Texas Stars of the AHL before rejoining Dallas on Thursday.
The return of Johns could coincide with the Stars’ first game without defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The 20-year-old standout left Thursday’s loss to Buffalo with an upper-body injury.
Johns made his debut for Dallas late in the 2014-15 season and played in all 13 of the team’s playoff games as a rookie. He has 13 goals, 15 assists and 306 blocked shots in 150 career regular-season games.
Panthers down another goalie, injured Driedger to miss weeks
Cirelli recorded his first NHL hat trick as the Lightning steamrolled the Winnipeg Jets Friday evening. The 22-year-old scored twice in the opening period as the Bolts jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Cirelli hammered a feed from Ondrej Palat 9:27 into the game and then converted a nifty forehand-backhand maneuver to close out the first 20 minutes. Cirelli would complete the hat trick midway through the third period.
Malkin recorded two power-play assists to set up Pittsburgh’s two goals in its 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings. Sidney Crosby has received a lot of attention since returning from a 28-game absence earlier this week and added the game-winning goal Friday. However, it was Malkin who looked off the defender and delivered a perfect pass to set up the Penguins captain. Malkin has recorded 10 points in the previous six games.
The 26-year-old winger scored twice in Tampa Bay’s 7-1 win. Cirelli and Kucherov alternated goals as Tampa Bay jumped out to a 4-0 lead, including three in the opening period. Kucherov buried two tap-in opportunities to record goals 21 and 22 on the season. The Russian winger has five goals in his previous three games and the Lightning improved to 12-2-0 in the previous 14 games.
Highlights of the Night
Crosby extended his goal-scoring streak to three games when he buried a pretty feed from Malkin to propel the Penguins in overtime.