PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Kyle Okposo's first career playoff goal with 7:37 remaining lifted the New York Islanders to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, evening their playoffs series at one game each.
Matt Moulson, Colin McDonald and Matt Martin also scored for the Islanders, who spoiled Sidney Crosby's comeback from a broken jaw by rallying from an early two-goal deficit.
Crosby scored twice in the game's first eight minutes as the Penguins raced to a quick 3-1 lead. But they couldn't hold it as the Islanders bounced back from a lifeless performance in Game 1.
Evgeni Nabokov overcame a sluggish start to stop 30 shots as the Islanders won their first playoff game in more than six years.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 38 saves for Pittsburgh, which allowed the speedy Islanders to effectively counterpunch all night.
Game 3 is Sunday in New York.
Canadiens 3, Senators 1
MONTREAL (AP)—Ryan White started a three-goal second period and goalie Carey Price was back in top form with 29 saves as the Canadiens evened their playoff series.
The best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal is tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 on Sunday in Ottawa.
Brendan Gallagher and Michael Ryder also scored for Montreal. Milan Michalek scored for Ottawa, which was let down by a power play that went 0-for-4.
There was anticipation of rough play after Eric Gryba's hit that saw Montreal's Lars Eller carried off the Bell Centre ice on a stretcher with a concussion and some missing teeth in Ottawa's 4-2 win in the series opener on Thursday night. Eller spent the night in hospital and was released Friday morning.
Gryba drew a two-game suspension from the NHL and sat out Game 2.
Blackhawks 5, Wild 2
CHICAGO (AP)—Patrick Sharp and Michael Frolik had two goals apiece, and the Blackhawks took a 2-0 series lead over the Wild.
Patrick Kane added two assists as Chicago put together a strong start and impressive finish. Bryan Bickell added an empty-net score to his winning goal in the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime victory in the post-season opener Tuesday night.
Game 3 is Sunday afternoon in Minnesota.
Devin Setoguchi and Marco Scandella scored for the Wild, who are making their first post-season appearance in five years.
Sharks 3, Canucks 2, OT
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Raffi Torres scored at 5:31 of overtime to give the San Jose Sharks a 2-0 lead over the Vancouver Canucks.
The series shifts to San Jose for games Sunday and Tuesday. San Jose was 17-2-5 at home this season.
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, whose goal in the final minute of the third period forced overtime, also scored for San Jose.
The Canucks took their sixth consecutive loss in a home playoff game. Now, they might not get another one after winning their fifth consecutive Northwest Division title.
Ryan Kesler scored two third-period goals for Vancouver, helping the Canucks overcome a 1-0 deficit that stood since the first period.
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky celebrate the Game 2 overtime winner at the 1987 Canada Cup.
Author: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Down Goes Brown: What was the best Game 2 in World Cup history?
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 28, 2016
Five out of seven World/Canada Cups have been best-of-three finals, so let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
Tuesday night's Game 1 of the World Cup final, which saw Team Canada earn a 3-1 win over Team Europe, sets up a do-or-die Game 2 Thursday night. A Canada win would end the tournament, and the trophy will be in the building, unless the league has come to its senses and thrown that ugly thing into a raging bonfire instead.
There have been seven World and Canada Cups in international hockey history, but we didn't get to see a Game 2 in all of those. Twice, in 1981 and 2004, the format called for a one-game final. But it's been best-of-three in the other tournaments, which gives us five Game 2 to work with. So today, let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
As always, this is opinion only, and if you disagree, then you're wrong.
No. 5 – 1984: Canada 6, Sweden 5
The road there: Canada stumbled through the 1984 tournament, going 2-2-1 through the round robin and barely making the playoff round as the fourth seed. But Team Canada earned a trip to the final thanks to an overtime win over the Soviets in the semi-final, and they were facing an upstart Swedish team that had beaten them in their round robin meeting and had just embarrassed the Americans with a 9-2 blowout. The Canadians took the opener by a 5-2 final, but the second game proved closer.
Game 2: The game looked like a laugher early on, with Canada scoring four times in the first seven minutes and adding a fifth before the first period was over. A Paul Coffey goal early in the second made it 6-1, setting the stage for a furious Team Sweden comeback. They scored three unanswered goals to close out the second period, and draw to within 6-5 early in the third. But that was as close as they came, as Canada held on for the win and the series sweep.
The aftermath: This turned out to be the first of three straight Canada Cup wins for Team Canada, and remains the only finals appearance by Team Sweden.
The bottom line: What looked like a laugher wound up being a reasonably entertaining contest. But the game everyone remembers from the 1984 Canada Cup will always be that semi-final thriller with the Soviets.
No. 4 – 1991: Canada 4, USA 2
The road there: Coming on the heels of the 1987 tournament, fans were probably hoping for yet another final between Canada and the Soviets. But with the team in turmoil, partly due to the political situation back home, the Soviets failed to even make the playoff round. That left Canada looking for a new challenger, and the Americans were happy to step in for their first ever Canada Cup final appearance. The two teams met in the round robin, with Canada winning 6-3 to hand the Americans their only loss of the stage, and Canada followed that up with a 4-1 win in the opening game of the final.
Game 2: This game may best be remembered for who wasn't playing. Team Canada captain Wayne Gretzky was knocked out of action in Game 1 on an ugly hit from behind by Gary Suter. The check left Gretzky unable to suit up for Game 2, and contributed to the back problems that slowed him down for much of the early 1990s.
Looking for the sweep, Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Americans clawed back with a pair of second-period goals. But Steve Larmer earned some revenge on Suter by stripping him of the puck during an American powerplay and then scoring on a breakaway for the winning goal.
The bottom line: This game, much like the 1991 tournament itself, was an entertaining one that for some reason isn't all that well remembered by many fans.
No. 3 – 1996: USA 5, Canada 2
The road there: The Americans swept through the round robin with a perfect 3-0-0 record, including an impressive 5-3 win over Canada that featured a wild early brawl. That win earned them a quarter-final bye, and after knocking off the Russians 5-3 in the semis, Team USA came into the final looking like they had a real shot to wrestle the international crown away from Canada. But Steve Yzerman's overtime winner in Game 1 in Philadelphia handed the Americans their first loss of the tournament, and left them needing a pair of wins in Montreal to take the tournament.
Game 2: Team USA jumped out to an early lead, but Canada came back to tie the game before the first intermission. Goals by John Leclair and Brett Hull gave the Americans a 3-1 lead, and Mike Richter stood on his head to keep it that way until a late powerplay goal by Joe Sakic made it 3-2 with five minutes to play. That was as close as they came, and a pair of Team USA empty net goals padded the final score to 5-2.
The aftermath: Team USA completed the comeback in Game 3, winning by another 5-2 score to capture their first (and so far only) best-on-best championship.
The bottom line: Despite the two empty netters making the score more lopsided than the game was, this was a fun matchup that featured lots of star power, some bad blood, and a raucous Montreal crowd. You can watch the highlights here.
No. 2 – 1976: Canada 5, Czechoslovakia 4 (OT)
The road there: Four years after the legendary Summit Series, the Canada Cup was born in an effort to create the first true international best-on-best tournament. There was no semi-final back then, with the top two teams heading directly to the finals. Canada grabbed one of those spots, finishing first in the round robin with a 4-1-0 record. But while many had expected a Summit Series rematch in the final, the Soviets were edged out of a spot by Czechoslovakia.
The opening game of the final was a blowout, with Canada earning a relatively easy 6-0 win. Game 2 ended up proving to be a bigger challenge.
Game 2: Canada grabbed a 2-0 lead just two minutes in, but Czechoslovakia fought back to tie the game early in the third. A Bobby Clarke goal restored the Canadian lead, but two quick Czechoslovakian goals gave them a 4-3 lead with four minutes to play. Bill Barber tied it with two minutes left, and that set the stage for Darryl Sittler to deliver the first ever Canada Cup with what still stands as one of the most famous goals in the tournament's history.
The aftermath: To this day, Sittler and Team Canada assistant coach Don Cherry are still arguing over who's idea that move was.
The bottom line: You could make a great case for this game being No. 1 on the list. I think it’s a coin flip, but I'll take the game that directly led to one of the greatest moments in hockey history.
1987: Canada 6, Soviet Union 5 (2OT)
The road there: Canada and the Soviets finished in the top two spots in the round robin, then knocked off Czechoslovakia and Sweden, respectively, in the semi-finals to set up the first best-on-best multi-game series between the two rivals since the 1972 Summit Series.
Game 2: With the Soviets looking to clinch their second Canada Cup in three tournaments, the series shifted to Hamilton for the second game. The two teams resumed the all-out offensive pace, with Canada leading 2-1 before the game was even four minutes old. Then it got better.
Canada took a 3-1 lead to the first intermission, but the Soviets tied it in the second before Mario Lemieux quickly restored the lead. The Soviets tied it again early in the third, but Lemieux scored again midway through. That set the stage for a frantic end to regulation that saw Valeri Kamensky score with a minute left to send the game to overtime.
With the trophy on the line, the two teams went back and forth through one scoreless extra period. But midway through the second overtime, Canada finally ended it. Guess who.
The aftermath: This game was so good that the hockey gods decided to re-use the same script for Game 3: A back-and-forth thriller that ends with a 6-5 Canada victory on a Mario Lemieux winner.
The bottom line: The series finale was quite possibly the greatest international game ever played. And it was made possible by this one, which was almost as good. That's enough to earn it the top spot on our list, narrowly ahead of Sittler's fakeout.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Rumor Roundup: Yakupov still on the outs with Oilers, but trade isn't imminent
By: Lyle Richardson
Sep 28, 2016
With their added wing depth, the Oilers can go into the season using Nail Yakupov as trade bait later this season to address a different roster issue.
Earlier in the off-season, there was considerable speculation the Edmonton Oilers would trade right winger Nail Yakupov. Selected first overall by the Oilers in the 2012 NHL draft, the 22-year-old struggled to meet lofty expectations.
It was anticipated Yakupov might be packaged for a defenseman, another struggling young player or a couple of draft picks. With training camps underway and the start of the upcoming season fast approaching, he's still on the Oilers roster.
The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites TSN's Ryan Rishaug's belief the Oilers will part ways with Yakupov when the right opportunity presents itself. Staples also cites other local media insiders claiming Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli attempted to move Yakupov this summer, noting the young winger is on the outs with coach Todd McLellan.
With promising winger Jesse Puljujarvi standing a good chance to crack the lineup this season, Zack Kassian re-signed to a one-year deal and Kris Versteeg on a professional tryout offer, Chiarelli could have sufficient depth on the wing to replace Yakupov. The Oilers GM wouldn't necessarily have to get another winger back in return, using him instead as trade bait later this season to address a different roster issue.
Yakupov's struggles and his $2.5-million salary-cap hit for 2016-17 hurt his trade value this summer. Over the course of this season, however, a stronger performance in a contract year could make him more attractive to rival clubs.
HARTNELL RESCINDS TRADE REQUEST
Leading up to last season's NHL trade deadline, Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Scott Hartnell was the subject of considerable trade speculation. It was believed the Jackets hoped to move the 34-year-old and his $4.75-million annual cap hit in a cost-cutting deal.
Earlier this summer, Hartnell agreed to waive his no-movement clause and provided Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen a list of acceptable trade destinations. However, he's now changed his mind. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports Hartnell rescinded his trade request.
After two months without any news of a possible move, Hartnell said he didn't want uncertainty hanging over him during the upcoming season. He also said he still believes he can be a contributor for the Jackets.
While his cap hit remains on the Jackets' books, it won't cause any significant issues for them heading into 2016-17. They freed up some cap room by buying out Fedor Tyutin and Jarret Boll in June. With all their players under contract for this season, they have $3.8 million in cap space.
It'll be interesting to see how things play out for Hartnell and the Jackets over the course of the season. Should they fall out of playoff contention again by the deadline, maybe Kekalainen revisits moving the veteran winger.
SEIDENBERG DRAWING ATTENTION
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's performance for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey is garnering favorable reviews. An unrestricted free agent after the Boston Bruins bought out his contract in June, the 35-year-old blueliner is drawing the attention of clubs seeking experienced defensive depth.
Last week, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported the Senators “kicked the tires” on Seidenberg and fellow UFA blueliner Kris Russell. On Monday, TSN's Darren Dreger took to Twitter reporting the Ottawa Senators were among “a handful of teams” with interest in Seidenberg.
Dreger believes the first team to make the rearguard a competitive offer will get him. If not the Senators, one of them could be the New Jersey Devils. They still have a hole to fill on defense since trading away Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers for left winger Taylor Hall. The Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs could also come calling.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
Senators’ MacArthur ‘encouraged’ by body’s reaction after suffering another concussion
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 30, 2016
Clarke MacArthur isn’t giving up after his latest concussion and said that he intends to try to make a comeback to the Ottawa Senators as soon as he can.
Clarke MacArthur’s concussion symptoms in November and December of 2015 were such that the 31-year-old admitted he thought he could be forced into retirement, and that made the most recent concussion MacArthur suffered during a Senators training camp scrimmage feel as though it could be devastating news for the 31-year-old winger.
MacArthur’s concussion came Sunday when defenseman Patrick Sieloff crushed MacArthur along the boards during an inter-squad game, and the hit left MacArthur down on the ice for a short while before he was helped off the ice by teammates. Following the scrimmage, Senators GM Pierre Dorion announced MacArthur had suffered a concussion and had been driven home to rest. It appears the time away from the rink immediately following the concussion has helped MacArthur, too.
Less than a week after suffering the concussion, MacArthur announced via his Instagram that there are some positive signs so far in his recovery and that he’s going to be fighting to make it back into action in the near future.
“We have been encouraged by how my body has reacted in the days since the injury and the team has been great giving me all the time I need to rest and recover,” MacArthur wrote. “I will continue to consult with doctors and my entire support group, but I felt it was important to let everyone know that my intentions are to work towards returning to the ice soon.”
In addressing his health, MacArthur also took the time to write about the hit from Sieloff, one that resulted in fights between he and Bobby Ryan, and a second dustup with Chris Neil. The fallout from the hit saw Sieloff told to take part in a later practice in order to avoid any further fights between teammates. However, MacArthur called the entire incident a “hockey play.”
“To me, it was simply a hockey play that ended in a hit causing me to suffer a concussion,” MacArthur wrote. “A play that could happen at any point.”
It would be outstanding for the Senators — and even more so for MacArthur — if he was able to full recover and get back into action before the season begins. He was limited to just four games during the 2015-16 season due to concussions and related issues, and he’s an important part of the Senators’ roster when he’s able to suit up.
During his first two seasons in Ottawa, MacArthur scored 40 goals and 91 points in 141 games while averaging second-line minutes, and he signed a five-year, $23.25-million contract with the Senators in August 2014. The concussion issues this past season mean he has only played four games under the contract, though.
Flames’ Backlund back practicing after suffering concussion at World Cup
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 30, 2016
A concussion forced Mikael Backlund to go back to Calgary before Sweden was eliminated from the World Cup, but even after suffering the knock, Backlund said the tournament was worth it.
Among the injuries suffered at the World Cup, one of the most worrisome was the concussion Team Sweden center Mikael Backlund suffered in round robin action.
During Sweden’s game against Finland, Backlund was walloped in open ice by Finnish defenseman Sami Lepisto. The hit, arguably high and definitely dangerous, didn’t see Backlund head for the dressing room immediately, but following the game it was speculated that he had suffered a concussion and days later was out of the lineup against Team North America. It was then that he was checked on by Flames doctors and removed from the tournament.
But after more than a week away from the ice, Backlund is inching closer to a return, and the 27-year-old says there’s no reason to believe he’ll be forced to miss time when the season starts. In fact, he believes if Sweden would have advanced past Team Europe, there’s a good chance he could have played against Canada in the best-of-three series.
“If I would’ve stayed and we were in the final, I probably could have played,” Backlund said, according to the Calgary Sun’s Wes Gilbertson. “But looking at the big picture, to be thrown in for a final game — Game 2 or Game 3 — wouldn’t have been ideal, even though it would have been a great experience. So it was a good decision to go back (to Calgary), but right away, I didn’t feel that bad that I was worried.”
Having Backlund healthy and in the lineup is a big deal for the Flames as he’s quite possibly one of the most underrated players in the entire league. While he doesn’t get the headlines that Sean Monahan or Johnny Gaudreau gets, Backlund is an incredibly skilled two-way player and he’s found his scoring touch over the past few seasons.
In 2013-14, Backlund had his first 15-goal season, racking up 18 tallies and 39 points, and after a tough 2014-15 campaign, Backlund shone in 2015-16 with 21 goals and 47 points as an important piece of the middle six. Backlund may not be an all-star, but his usefulness at both ends of the ice makes him a key cog for the Flames.
And when the season starts, Backlund says that he’ll be able to hit the ice without many bumps. Though he suffered a concussion at the World Cup, he said the pre-season tournament helped to get him into game shape.
“Getting those few games before this camp, it was a good start,” Backlund said, according to Gilbertson. “Every shift mattered. There was a lot at stake every game, so it was a fun way to start a season.”