Calgary Flames rookie Sam Bennett comes up clutch with first career goal

Sam Bennett (Gerry Thomas/Getty Images)

Were it not for a shoulder injury to start the season, Sam Bennett‘s first career goal likely would have come sometime in October. Instead, the Calgary Flames’ top prospect scored his first tally when it mattered most — in a one-goal game of a tied playoff series.

After a scoreless second period and with Calgary up 2-1 on Vancouver entering the third period, a goalmouth scramble broke out in front of Canucks netminder Eddie Lack. Bennett, who was positioned behind the net when the shot from Joe Colborne was let go, swooped out in front and slapped at the loose puck to slip it home: Read more

Flames’ Michael Ferland sends Canucks’ Luca Sbisa sailing with massive hit

Michael Ferland (Gerry Thomas/Getty Images)

Through two games of Calgary’s first-round matchup with Vancouver, rookie Michael Ferland has been making a name for himself by throwing his body around. And for those who may not have taken notice of Ferland yet, it’ll be hard to forget him after the exploding hit he threw on Canucks blueliner Luca Sbisa.

Early in the first frame of Game 3, Sbisa carried the puck through the neutral zone and fired the puck into the Flames’ zone. Unfortunately for Sbisa, he didn’t see Ferland pursuing him from the right side. When the two came together, Ferland sent Sbisa flying with a massive body check: Read more

Senators’ incredible run close to over after heartbreaking Game 3 loss

Craig Anderson lies on the ice following a goal against in Game 3 (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Sadly, the Ottawa Senators may have used up every last bit of magic just getting to the playoffs. Three games into their first-round series with Montreal, Ottawa is on the brink of elimination.

With how close the games have been to this point, it would be foolish to outright write off the Senators’ chances going forward, but their chances couldn’t look much more bleak. Whether it is the stellar play of Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price or that Ottawa had to scratch and claw to get to the post-season, it feels as though the Habs, who skated to one of the best regular season records in the league, are simply overmatching the Senators. Read more

Dale Weise buries OT winner to put Ottawa on brink of elimination

Dale Weise (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Late in the third period of Game 3, with Montreal down 1-0 to the Ottawa Senators, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien trotted out a line consisting of Torrey Mitchell, Brandon Prust and Dale Weise. With less than six minutes remaining in the frame, Weise cashed in to tie the game which sent the contest to overtime.

If the premonition to throw that line together and run them out with time winding down in the third looked brilliant on Therrien’s part, he looked like an evil genius in the extra frame. Weise took only five shifts in the entire third period, but in overtime, Therrien put his rugged winger out three times before the halfway point of the period.

As the 10-minute mark loomed, Weise picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Senators’ zone, pulled up and fired a quick wristshot past Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson: Read more

Erik Karlsson destroyed Nathan Beaulieu with a huge open-ice hit

Erik Karlsson (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Forget the Battle of Ontario. The first-round series between Montreal and Ottawa is creating a fierce and incredibly physical rivalry between the Canadiens and Senators. No one has felt the effects of the opening-round matchup quite like Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu.

Early in the second period of Sunday’s Game 3, after a first frame that was the embodiment of crash and bang hockey, Senators blueliner Erik Karlsson laid a wallop on Beaulieu that his ancestors felt. The best part? It was a textbook hard, clean body check: Read more

Ability to regain possession-focused form will determine Blackhawks’ playoff fate

Dominik Luszczyszyn
Kane & Toews (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Few people were picking Nashville to beat Chicago in the first round, but after Friday’s walloping, it’s hard to argue that Nashville hasn’t been the better team through two games, despite the series being tied 1-1 after a furious comeback in the series opener.

That the Hawks are getting outplayed is an oddity for most fans because Chicago has been one of the league’s best teams since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane arrived on the scene (two Stanley Cups and multiple sparkling regular seasons don’t lie). The reason they’ve had that success is because the Blackhawks always have the puck, and that’s been the hallmark of their success, according to Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman.

“You have to play to your strengths and I think our best players are more offensive-type players,” Bowman told The Hockey News Friday. “That’s why I think our system works well. We’re trying to be a team that has the puck and controls the game, and in the process of that you’re not going to give up as many shots because we got the puck and they don’t.”

The NHL is a copycat league, which means that many teams are trying to emulate that style of play. The Blackhawks have been the top possession team in the league since 2008, controlling just more than 55 percent of shot attempts at 5-on-5. Read more

Is Vladimir Tarasenko the missing piece in the Blues Stanley Cup puzzle?

Vladimir Tarasenko (Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

The 2010 draft turned out to be pretty fruitful overall, but on the first day of the actual selections, St. Louis went in with a specific plan of action: take Jaden Schwartz with the 14th pick overall and, if possible, trade for another selection to land Vladimir Tarasenko. The first part went off without a hitch. With the 15th pick, Los Angeles tabbed big blueliner Derek Forbort, paving the way for Blues GM Doug Armstrong to swing a trade with Ottawa that saw the Sens grab defenseman David Rundblad in exchange for pick No. 16, which Armstrong used to snap up Tarasenko. Had the Russian right winger been off the board, St. Louis would have kept Rundblad, forever altering history.

Armstrong admits Tarasenko was the riskier pick, due to the fact the KHL offered a perfectly decent career path for the Russian kid whose father coached him with Sibir Novosibirsk. But Tarasenko made his way over to North America after the 2012-13 lockout and has been endearing himself to the organization since. “He’s the type of kid who has a lot of respect for the guys on his team and he really wants to play well,” said goalie Brian Elliott. “Sometimes you don’t see that in young guys, but he’s a team guy to the max.”

Adjusting to life in North America wasn’t easy, but Tarasenko was willing to put in the work. Some NHL teams have softened the cultural blow for young Russians by bringing in a veteran from their homeland (it almost always seems to be Sergei Gonchar), but the closest St. Louis has come is Dmitrij Jaskin, who was born in Omsk but was raised in (and plays internationally for) the Czech Republic. The Blues did hire retired defenseman Sergei Zubov for a year to help facilitate coaching messages during practice, but otherwise it was adapt and survive. “It was basically, throw him in the deep end and let him figure it out,” Armstrong said. “He worked hard on his own, and he wanted to be part of the team.” Read more

Ducks’ Silfverberg solves Pavelec in heartbreaker for Winnipeg Jets

Josh Elliott
Ondrej Pavelec

Jakob Silfverberg broke a 1-1 tie and spoiled an incredible performance by Ondrej Pavelec to give the Anaheim Ducks the win and a 2-0 lead in their series with the Winnipeg Jets.

Silfverberg’s lightning-quick release beat Pavelec from the bottom of the left circle with only 21 seconds remaining on the clock.

It was an unexpected end to another bone-crunching, tightly-contested affair between these teams that seemed destined to go deep into overtime.
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