Andrei Markov

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PHT Morning Skate: Markov eyeing return; Dorion likes Sens’ chances

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Andrei Markov eyeing NHL return. (Sportsnet)

• Reigning Calder winner Elias Pettersson to grace the cover of NHL 20 in native Sweden. (The Province)

Patrik Laine, meanwhile, will be on Finland’s cover for the second straight year, becoming the first player to ever appear on a cover in two consecutive years. (Winnipeg Sun)

Sidney Crosby was an open book for the guys on the Spitting Chiclets podcast. (Sportsnet)

• Mike Babcock is doing it again. (Editor in Leaf)

• Jarmo Kekalainen says Zach Werenski expected to sign prior to the opening of training camp. (NHL.com)

• All eyes on how Ron Francis builds his analytics department. (Seattle Times)

• Seattle’s NHL owners want to weed out ticket brokers from acquiring large amounts of tickets. (KING5 News)

• Pierre Dorion is bullish on the Senators’ upcoming season. (Sportsnet)

• Is Laine poised to bounce back in 2019-20? (Sporting News)

• WAR. What is it good for? Projecting the 2019-20 standings, of course. (The Athletic)

• Few remaining NHL free agents are worth signing, but there is value out there. (Yahoo Sports)

• NHL ref Wes McCauley of South Portland to be honored at Mariners game. (Portland Press Herald)

• Sabres blue line is a story of potential vs. reality. (Die by the Blade)

MORE:
ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Habs’ Beaulieu wants to prove he’s ‘a top four guy’

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With a new two-year, $2 million contract in his back pocket, Nathan Beaulieu is out to prove he can be a top-four defenseman, and power play specialist with the Montreal Canadiens.

“For next season I want to play a bigger role on the team,” Beaulieu said during his conference call on Saturday. “I feel I can play big minutes with this team. It doesn’t get handed to you, so I know I need to earn big minutes, and with that you need to be in tiptop shape.

“I feel like going forward the next couple seasons I want to prove I can play big minutes (and) that I’m definitely a top four guy that can help the team win.”

The 22-year-old appeared in 65 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15 scoring one goal and eight assists while averaging 15:42 in time on ice.

He also appeared in eight American Hockey League games with the Hamilton Bulldogs scoring two goals and four points.

“It took a lot of patience. It was a journey. I had to play a little time in the American (Hockey) League, and I had to grow little aspects of my game,” Beaulieu said of becoming an NHL regular. “It was a process and I feel like now I’ve grown into an NHL player.

“I feel like me along with the organization, we’ve figured out a plan for myself, and we know what I can do.”

Part of what the 6-foot-2, 194-pound blue liner wants to do moving forward is earn a regular role on the club’s power play.

“I’ve got a great guy to learn from in Andrei Markov,” he said. “I know I’m a power play guy, just got to wait for the opportunities and I know that eventually I’m going to be a power play guy.

“You got to earn it. It just doesn’t get given to you. I’m ready to take on responsibilities and earn a spot.”

Related: Habs cutting ties with Gonchar, Malhotra, Weaver

Not today: Montreal crushes Lightning to force Game 5

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Including the regular season, Montreal went into Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay without a single win in eight meetings. Another loss tonight would have ended the Canadiens’ playoff run, but instead they scored early and often in a 6-2 victory.

Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov set the tone of the game just 2:44 minutes in when he beat Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. That put the game on a path that led to Bishop being pulled early in the second frame after allowing a soft goal from David Desharnais.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made his first career playoff appearance as a result, but it didn’t work out for him as Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher found the back of the net just 15 seconds apart to turn this contest into a blowout.

Tampa Bay was able to capitalize on a couple power-play opportunities after that, but Montreal didn’t let up in the third period so it’s hard for the Lightning to take many positives out of this one. Although they won Game 3, the Lightning were looking for a better performance tonight and didn’t get it.

Really the only silver lining for the Lightning is that they’re in a position to shake off this loss. They had a 3-0 series lead and thus still have three more chances to eliminate Montreal. Even still, it would be very dangerous to let the Canadiens get back into this series. With stars like goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban on their side, the Canadiens have the talent to make some history.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.

Video: With backs to wall, Habs jump to early 2-0 lead

Down 3-0 in its series to Tampa Bay, Montreal needs a win tonight just to keep going. The Canadiens couldn’t have asked for a much better start.

Max Pacioretty did a great job of feeding the puck to defenseman P.K. Subban in the Lightning zone just a couple minutes into the game. However, with the Tampa Bay players flooding the center of the ice in anticipation of a shot from Subban, he instead moved the puck to Andrei Markov, who had a clean shot at goaltender Ben Bishop:

Pacioretty made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal just 8:43 minutes into the game after picking up teammate Torrey Mitchell’s successful clear:

That was Montreal’s second shorthanded marker of the 2015 playoffs. The Canadiens have scored once with the man advantage.

Video: Stamkos ends goal drought in style

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Steven Stamkos didn’t score a single goal in Tampa Bay’s first eight playoff contests this season. The fact that the Lightning made it to the second round and then took Game 1 against Montreal without a single marker from the two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner is impressive.

It also raises the question: How far can Tampa Bay go if Stamkos gets hot?

We might find out the answer because Stamkos not only ended his goal scoring drought midway through the second period of Sunday’s game, but he did so in style. After accepting a long pass from Jason Garrison and beating Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov for the puck, Stamkos found himself in a one-on-one situation with goaltender Carey Price.

Stamkos didn’t have complete control of the rolling puck as he moved towards the net, but he still managed to outmaneuver Price to put Tampa Bay up 2-1: