Backes, Fabbri will take warmup, but Blues hush on their Game 5 status

Jared Clinton
David Backes (Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

The Blues may have won Game 4 of the Western Conference final, but the victory didn’t come without a cost. Both David Backes and Robby Fabbri were knocked out of the contest and finished the game watching from the sideline, and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is doing his best to dance around confirming whether one, both or neither will be St. Louis’ Game 5 lineup.

When Hitchcock was asked about the status of Backes and Fabbri for Monday’s game, he would offer only that the Blues’ warmup lineup will be the same as it was during the previous game’s warmup, which is to say Backes and Fabbri will take part in the brief pre-game skate but there’s no answer beyond that.

“We’re going to dress the same lineup for warmup that we did the last game,” Hitchcock said, precisely wording his response. “We had two extra forwards, one extra D. No changes. All those players are there. They’ll dress for warmup and then we’ll run a further evaluation after warmup. Same 23 guys are dressing.” Read more

Watch Alex Killorn jumpstart Lightning offense with perfect shot past Marc-Andre Fleury

Jared Clinton
Alex Killorn (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Players from the Tampa Bay Lightning would have been the first to tell you that they started Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final flat. Late in the first period they surrendered the opening goal to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and midway through the first frame they trailed 2-0 in Sunday’s game.

With less than seven minutes left, however, the Lightning found their first goal of the contest, and it came on an absolutely gorgeous shot by winger Alex Killorn on what appeared to be a nothing play.

Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr won a board battle on the half wall of the Penguins’ zone and, with seemingly no offensive options, he simply played it in behind the Pittsburgh goal. His pass ricocheted off the back wall and around the left wing boards onto the tape of Killorn, who picked up the puck, took a look towards the goal and fired a seeing-eye shot that found the mere inches of daylight over the shoulder of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. It might be the most perfect shot of the post-season: Read more

Ellis’ blast helps Canada down USA, head to World Championship gold medal game

Jared Clinton
Canada celebrates post-game (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada will have a chance at repeating as gold medalists at the World Championship for the first time in more than a decade, and they’re heading to the gold medal game following a thrilling 4-3 victory over the rival United States.

In what has become a staple of international competition between the men’s national teams on the world stage, the Canadian and American squads turned in a one-goal contest that left one club heartbroken. And this time around, in the semi-final of the World Championship, it was the U.S. squad that left the ice with a bit of heartbreak. However, the American side, which boasted far fewer big-name NHL stars, should be proud of an effort that nearly had their Canadian heading to Sunday’s bronze medal game.

In the first frame, Canada and the U.S. traded chances back and forth, but the only goals in the opening period came from Canadians Brendan Gallagher and Brad Marchand. The 2-0 lead after 20 minutes may have made it appear as though Canada could stomp out any hopes the American club had, but the young team — led in scoring by top prospect Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin and Frank Vatrano — answered back in the second. Read more

Penguins’ Hornqvist will play in Game 4 after leaving Game 3 following shot block

Jared Clinton
Patric Hornqvist (Greg Fiume/NHLI via Getty Images)

Almost everything that could go right has gone as such for the Penguins over the past two games, but there was a moment late in Game 3’s victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning that had some in Pittsburgh worrying about the health of Patric Hornqvist.

With the Penguins in their defensive zone with little more than seven minutes left in the third period, Hornqvist went to close off a shooting lane when the puck came back to Lightning winger Alex Killorn. Hornqvist spread out to block the shot and managed to get his left hand in front of Killorn’s attempt.

However, upon the puck striking Hornqvist, he almost immediately dropped his stick to the ice, winced in pain and skated to the Pittsburgh bench. Shortly thereafter, he headed to the dressing room: Read more

15-year-old pulls off awesome lacrosse-style goal at World Selects Invitational

Jared Clinton
Graeme Clarke's lacrosse-style goal (via World Selects Invitational/YouTube)

University of Michigan forward Mike Legg became known throughout the hockey world for one of the most creative goals that had ever been scored.

Legg’s lacrosse-style goal — a scooping move that saw him hoist the puck up and over the shoulder of a University of Minnesota netminder from behind the net — became known as ‘The Michigan,’ and a number of players have replicated it since, including Sidney Crosby, Mikael Granlund and Kael Mouillierat.

You can add Graeme Clarke to that list. And what makes that most impressive is that Clarke, 15, wasn’t born until more than five years after Legg’s goal, yet Clarke’s pulling it off with a smoothness and decisiveness that would almost lead one to believe he was the one who invented the move. Check it out: Read more

Tomas Hertl picks a corner on Brian Elliott, wires home pinpoint-accurate slap shot

Jared Clinton
Tomas Hertl (Nick Lust/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tomas Hertl entered Game 3 of the Western Conference final following a very odd pattern.

In San Jose’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks winger scored in the opening game. For the remaining four games of the series, though, he was unable to find the back of the net. When the Sharks made it to the second round to square off against the Nashville Predators, Hertl again found the net in Game 1. However, over the next six games, Hertl again was held out of the goal column. So when he scored in Game 1 of the conference final and was held scoreless in Game 2, it seemed again like he might hit another series-long drought.

He broke the strange streak in first period of Game 3, though, and he did so with a no-doubter of a slap shot. Hertl found himself wide open and received a perfect cross-ice pass from Sharks captain Joe Pavelski with little more than four minutes remaining in the opening frame, picked a spot over St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott’s glove and laid into shot that came out of the net as fast as it went in: Read more

Kessel misreads question about conditioning, gives hilarious answer about bad breath

Jared Clinton
Pierre McGuire and Phil Kessel (via

Phil Kessel has been outstanding through three games of the Eastern Conference final, and in Game 3 he scored once, has an assist and put eight shots on goal in more than 19 minutes of playing time.

With a performance like that, you’d expect the 28-year-old winger to be a bit gassed after the contest, so NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire was trying to get a window into Kessel’s conditioning following Pittsburgh’s Game 3 victory. The wording of the question tripped up Kessel, though, which led to him giving a ridiculous response not about his conditioning level — or breath, as McGuire said — but instead saying he could maybe use a Tic Tac. The question comes around the 1:05-mark: Read more

Watch Crosby blast one-timer by Vasilevskiy for second-straight game-winner

Jared Clinton
Sidney Crosby (via

Much had been made about Sidney Crosby’s cold streak heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. The Penguins captain hadn’t scored in eight-straight games and had been held to only three points over that span. Everyone knew it wouldn’t last, though.

In Game 2, Crosby finally broke through with the overtime game-winner only 40 seconds into the first extra frame, and now it appears like he could be on a much different streak as he’s scored the game-winning goal in back-to-back games. And for the second-consecutive game, he’s managed the game-winner on a one-time blast going upstairs on Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Crosby’s winner in Game 3 came midway through the third period with the Penguins already ahead a goal. After Tampa Bay blueliner Braydon Coburn headed off for elbowing, Pittsburgh’s power play went to work on a 4-on-3, and the open ice gave Crosby room to operate to the right of the net. After a pass to Evgeni Malkin on the blueline, Crosby opened up for a one-timer, took a pass back from Malkin and hammered the puck past Vasilevskiy: Read more