Fri May 17 11:05pm EDT
No. 1 Star: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Crosby recorded his second career postseason hat trick during the Penguins' 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 2. He tallied his first two goals during a three-goal opening period for the Penguins, then completed the trick early in the second period on the power play. Crosby is the fifth player in Penguins franchise history to reach 100 career points in the playoffs.
No. 2 Star: Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Martin continued his stellar play assisting on a pair of goals to give him 15 points in his last 16 games. He's now on 9 points, good enough to be tied for fourth in playoff scoring.
No. 3 Star: Brenden Morrow, Pittsburgh Penguins
Morrow scored his first playoff goal since 2008 by deflecting a Paul Martin shot midway through the second period. That goal would stand as the game winner. Late in the game, as the Penguins were hanging on to their 4-3 lead and time running out, Morrow killed seconds deep in the Senators' zone by protecting the puck along the boards.
Fri May 17 10:34pm EDT
The last time Sidney Crosby netted a hat trick in the playoffs was 2009. The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-0 series lead in the playoffs was 2009. It remains to be seen if those good omens from 2009 will create a similar ending in 2013, but for now the Penguins are halfway to the Eastern Conference Final after a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Friday night.
Crosby set the tone early on scoring three times within the first 21:15 of the game as Pittsburgh stormed out to a 3-1 lead. The Penguins captain brought the CONSOL Energy Center crowd to its feet during his first goal, which left Erik Karlsson wondering what had just happened:
Craig Anderson's night was finished after Crosby completed his hat trick early in the second period. It was the first time he was pulled since March 2012. His replacement, Robin Lehner, was valiant in relief making 20 saves and keeping the Senators in the game.
Not helping the Senators' cause was the fact they handed six power plays to a Penguins team rolling along at a 36 percent rate with the man advantage entering Friday night, tops in the NHL this postseason. Pittsburgh only cashed in on one -- Crosby's third goal -- but Ottawa was never able to build momentum with the numerous trips to the penalty box.
The series now shifts to Scotiabank Place on Sunday and Tuesday for Games 3 and 4 as the Senators will attempt to slow a Pittsburgh offense averaging 4.13 goals per game. The Penguins outshot Ottawa 41-21 in Game 2, with 11 coming on the power play. As the Senators stressed after Game 1, they cannot have a parade to the penalty box if they're to beat Pittsburgh in this series.
Ottawa also needs a stronger showing from Anderson, who's now allowed seven goals thru the first two games of this series -- the combined total he allowed from Games 2-5 against Montreal in the first round. Jason Spezza's return could give them a boost, but collectively there's still plenty of work to be done.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
Fri May 17 08:30pm EDT
For a second straight postseason, San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres was suspended by the NHL for an illegal hit. After he was banned for the remainder of the Sharks' series with the Los Angeles Kings -- which could end up being between 3-6 games -- there was a thought that Torres could be the first test case of the appeal system negotiated in the new CBA.
According to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, Torres has decided otherwise and will not challenge the suspension handed down by Brendan Shanahan on Thursday.
Despite Torres' decision, Doug Wilson had a few things to get off his chest about the suspension. Late Friday, the Sharks' general manager released a statement vehemently disagreeing with Shanahan's decision and challenging the wording in Rule 48.1 and how it was applied:
The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL in its efforts to remove illegal and dangerous hits from the game but we strongly disagree with the NHL's decision to suspend Raffi Torres.
Upon review of the incident, it is abundantly clear that this was a clean hockey hit. As noted by the NHL, Raffi's initial point of contact was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on an opponent who was playing the puck. He did not leave his feet or elevate, he kept his shoulder tucked and elbow down at his side, and he was gliding - not skating or charging.
As stated in the NHL's Player Safety video, Rule 48.1 says, "A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted." Thus, with the use of the word "and", this rule clearly states that two elements must occur in order to violate the rule. Raffi absolutely did not target his opponent's head on the play. The call on the ice specifically acknowledged that the head was not targeted and nowhere in the NHL's ruling does it insinuate or suggest that the opponent's head was targeted.
Furthermore, the rule goes on to say: "However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered."
As evidenced in the video, just prior to Torres making contact with the opposing player, that player altered his posture to play a bouncing puck with his hand, placing himself in a vulnerable position.
Comparing the facts of this incident against the actual wording of Rule 48.1, it appears that the NHL has not only made an inappropriate application of this rule but is trying to make an example out of a player who is being judged on past events, one who has changed his game dramatically this season and taken only six minor penalties in 39 games.
We are proud of the work Raffi has put in to successfully adjust his game. Although it's unfortunate that Jarret was injured on the play, we feel this decision is grossly unfair to the Raffi, his teammates and our fans. However, Raffi does not want to be a distraction to his teammates and has decided not to appeal this suspension and we respect that decision.
After Torres changed his ways following the massive suspension a year ago for his hit on Marian Hossa, with this suspension and the spotlight shining very, very brightly on him going forward, how much will this affect his game going forward?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
Fri May 17 05:12pm EDT
While I wouldn't go so far as to say the Ottawa Senators outplayed the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 -- it's tough to argue that when they lost by three goals -- the club from Canada's capital did a lot right in the series opener.
They controlled the run of the play for long stretches. They matched the Penguins in goal-scoring output. They pushed the Penguins back with their speed, even making Pittsburgh's trio of big-name deadline acquisitions -- Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray, and Brenden Morrow -- look slow, as all three saw the ice tilt away from them when they were on it.
But that was at even-strength. Special teams, on the other hand, were a nightmare.
Up and down a man, this was Pittsburgh's game. The Penguins scored two powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal, and that was the difference, quite literally, in a 4-1 Senators loss in in Game 1.
"They have the best power play in the playoffs and you try not to give them those opportunities," Cory Conacher told the Sun after the game. "You want to play hard, physical and you just want to be a little bit smarter."
Smarter would be making sure that Pittsburgh's cavalcade of incredible players isn't gifted any extra space. This team can ice a powerplay consisting of five all-stars. The Senators cannot ice a penalty-kill of similar pedigree. So now you're talking about five all-stars versus four normal guys. Sorry, four normal guys, but my money's on the all-stars.
Fri May 17 03:46pm EDT
Cory Conacher has lived two NHL lives this season.
He played 35 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 24 points and counted among the Calder Trophy candidates for most of 2013.
But at the trade deadline, he was dealt to the Ottawa Senators in a multi-player deal that had goalie Ben Bishop going back to Tampa. He scored two goals in 12 games, and was no longer in the rookie of the year race.
Yet while the Lightning failed to make the playoff cut, the Senators are a second-round playoff team – and Conacher has been an unsung hero for them.
Fri May 17 03:16pm EDT
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Finland's Antti Pihlstrom was unable to be removed from the glass after celebrating his overtime goal vs. Latvia. He'll miss their game against Sweden. [AP]
• Jason Spezza back for Game 3 on Sunday? It's possible. Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean: "If he's available to us, it's Jason Spezza, we're going to have him in the lineup." [Ottawa Sun]
• Heading into Game 2 on Saturday, the Detroit Red Wings need to give Jimmy Howard some help. [CSN Chicago]
• Despite the impressive Game 1 win, the Chicago Blackhawks can still get better. [Blackhawk Up]
• How many different descriptions did NBC's Mike Emrick use during Game 1 of Blackhawks/Red Wings? 90. Yes. 90! [Awful Announcing]
• How did LA Kings forward Trevor Lewis react after his Game 2 winner against the San Jose Sharks? “I think that was Toff’s play there. He made a great shot off the pad there and I just kinda tapped it in and then almost passed out in the celebration." [Mayor's Manor]
• Remember John Tortorella's high school yearbook photo? Remember "Musky"? Toucher and Rich have gotten to the bottom of some of the unanswered questions from that photo. But now we need to find Musky. [CBS Boston]
• The 2013 Memorial Cup kicks off tonight in Saskatoon. Here's Neate with 11 storylines to follow. [Buzzing the Net]
Fri May 17 02:16pm EDT
(Ed. Note: Well, here it is. The long gestating Toronto Maple Leafs Eulogy. Usually, we have the fans that hate eliminated teams the most be the ones to remember them fondly. But since the Leafs making the playoffs was such a monumental deal, we decided to go in another direction: Allowing the caustic Leas fans from Pension Plan Puppets to eulogize their own team. Here’s what happens when year of cynicism collides with sudden adoration for a Leafs team that lost in seven to the Bruins.)
By Pension Plan Puppets
Today we say goodbye to the 2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs.
We come not to mourn their passing, but to celebrate how the 2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs lived, loved and were led by a great man known as Randolph Robert Carlyle.
The world will long remember these Leafs for their ability to generate quality shots and for limiting their opponents’ quality chances.
Hockey fans, no matter their allegiance, will recall this team for the terror they struck in the hearts of the opposition by playing not one, but two enforcers for a few short minutes each night.
The 2012-13 Leafs will be remembered for changing their culture. They will be, and should be, remembered by the Jack Adams-worthy work of Coach Randy Carlyle.
Fri May 17 01:48pm EDT
It's a (gettin' down on) Friday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Star: Phil Bourque talks to us about the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Ottawa Senators.
• Recapping the Sharks and Rangers' heartbreaking losses.
• Raffi Torres' suspension.
• GAME SHOW FRIDAY
Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
Fri May 17 12:05pm EDT
The NHL announced the finalists for the Jack Adams Award on Friday, as Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks, Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators and Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks are up for the trophy presented to the head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success," as voted on by members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association.
We imagine it warms Mike Babcock’s heart to see Quenneville get a nomination, being that President’s Trophy winners don’t always get the Jack Adams love. Then again, it’s hard to ignore a coach who guides his team to 24 straight games with at least a point to start the season.
It was a bumper crop for great NHL coaching performances this season, which is bad news for Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders, Mike Yeo of the Minnesota Wild, Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Babcock and especially Michel Therrien of the Montreal Canadiens.
Who takes home the Jack?
Fri May 17 11:41am EDT
Carolina Hurricanes fans are on edge waiting to hear about the severity of a knee injury captain Eric Staal suffered Thursday during Canada's World Championships quarterfinal game against Sweden.
Late in the first period, Staal took a knee-on-knee hit from Swedish defenseman Alex Edler and went down in pain. Edler was kicked out of the game and on Friday the IIHF suspended him for the rest of the tournament.
Once again, here's the hit:
After reviewing the video evidence and the respective reports, including the Game Supervisor Report, the Referee Supervisor Report, the verbal medical report and the report from the hearing with the player, the panel has determined that Edler should have been penalized with a match penalty as he was in clear violation of the playing rule 536b (Kneeing).
The disciplinary panel deemed Edler’s action as reckless, dangerous and that it was in disregard to the vulnerability of his opponent and for that he must be held accountable.
Edler will miss Sweden's semifinal game against Finland on Saturday and either the bronze or gold medal game on Sunday, depending on the result.
Staal is flying back to Raleigh on Friday and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday to assess the damage.
“It’s unfortunate and hopefully it’s not too serious,” Rutherford told Chip Alexander of the News Observer. “If it is serious, hopefully there will be enough recovery time for him to be ready for next season.
"We’ll just hope for the best.”
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy