The best pure goal scorer for every NHL team

It is hockey’s most valuable skill and the one that is most difficult to consistently do well — goal scoring. Some players are great at it because they have a great shot, a lightning quick release or just have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Every team needs a great goal scorer to win, and here we take a look at the best pure goal scorer on every team in the NHL. Some you know well, but others may not get the recognition they fully deserve.  1 of 31

Anaheim Ducks: Rickard Rakell

With Corey Perry now playing in Dallas, and Ryan Getzlaf getting older, the Ducks’ best goal scorer is the 26-year-old Rakell. His production slumped a bit this past season, but before that he scored 97 goals in the three previous seasons, including a pair of seasons with at least 33 goals. He does not get a lot of attention around the league, mainly because the team around him has not been great, but he is an outstanding player.  2 of 31

Arizona Coyotes: Phil Kessel

The Coyotes have not had a player like Kessel in more than a decade. He may be getting older and have his share of flaws away from the puck, but he can also still be one of the NHL’s best offensive player. Arizona needed an impact player who could be the focal point of the offense, and he provides exactly that.  3 of 31

Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak

The Bruins have the NHL’s best line with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. Bergeron and Marchand are the superstars, and Pastrnak is set to join them. He has topped the 30-goal mark in three straight seasons and had he not missed nearly 20 games due to injury a year ago, he would have been a near lock for 40 goals. If you wanted a sleeper pick for the NHL’s goal scoring crown this year, he would be a good choice given his talent and the quality of the players around him.  4 of 31

Buffalo Sabres: Jeff Skinner

After being a top goal scorer without the luxury of playing next to a legitimate No. 1 center in Carolina, Skinner arrived in Buffalo at the start of the 2018-19 season and found an instant chemistry alongside Jack Eichel. Playing next to one of the league’s best young players helped him produce his first-ever 40-goal season and landed him a huge long-term contract to stay in Buffalo. He may not score 40 every year, but with combination of his quick shot and Eichel’s playmaking, he should always have a chance to do it.  5 of 31

Calgary Flames: Matthew Tkachuk

Just three years into his career, and Tkachuk is already an impact player in every possible way. He scores goals, he makes plays, he agitates opponents and he plays on the edge of the line. He is basically the Western Conference version of Brad Marchand. He is going to be a 35-40 goal winger for a long time. 

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho

In just a couple of years the answer to this question will be Andrei Svechnikov, but for now Aho still gets the edge because he has done it consistently over three years in the league. He may not be a challenger for the league lead, but he is going to score 25-30 goals every year throughout his prime. Add in his playmaking and two-way game, and you have a great franchise player.  7 of 31

Chicago Blackhawks: Alex DeBrincat

Is it a bold call to choose DeBrincat over, say, Patrick Kane? Probably, and maybe Blackhawks fans disagree, but DeBrincat is just now entering his third year in the league and already has 70 goals in 168 games, including a 41-goal performance in his second year. He is going to be the foundation of the next chapter in the Blackhawks franchisee. He is also one of the latest examples that teams should not be afraid to take smaller, undersized players. Talent wins.  8 of 31

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon

After bursting onto the scene as an impact rookie at the age of 18, MacKinnon’s career kind of leveled off for a few years. Then he blossomed into a mega star and one of the league’s best players. He is the cornerstone piece of a team that should be a Stanley Cup contender for the foreseeable future and has scored 80 goals over the past two full seasons.  9 of 31

Columbus Blue Jackets: Cam Atkinson

It is a good bet that Cam Atkinson is a lot better than you realize. One of the most overlooked players in the league, Atkinson has scored 35, 24 (in only 65 games), and 41 goals the past three seasons, respectively. With Artemi Panarin now in New York playing for the Rangers, Atkinson is going to have to be one of the go-to players in the Blue Jackets lineup.  10 of 31

Dallas Stars: Joe Pavelski

Pavelski was the Stars’ big offseason acquisition this summer, as they hoped he could be one of the missing pieces in their lineup. They needed secondary scoring, and Pavelski has been one of the league’s best goal scorers for the past six years. A late bloomer when it comes to being an impact player, Pavelski is coming off a 38-goal season for the Sharks, the fifth 30-goal season of his career. 

Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Larkin

One of the league’s fastest players, Larkin finally had a big breakout goal-scoring year during the 2018-19 season and recorded his first 30-goal season. Even though it seems like he has been around forever, he is still only 23 years old and is one of the bright spots on a rebuilding Red Wings team. He figures to be a huge part of their future.  12 of 31

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid

He already has a pair of 40-goal seasons on his resume, and it is only a matter of time until he hits 50. Combined with his game-breaking speed and precision passing, he is the most complete offensive player in the sport and seems like a lock to finish near the top in every major offensive category every year as long as he stays healthy. He has already won two scoring titles, and there is almost certainly a goal scoring crown in his future.  13 of 31

Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov

He is one of the league’s best all-around players and is an absolute steal under the salary cap. Along with his great defensive play and superb playmaking, he also has scored at a 30-goal pace the couple of years. He is only 24 years old and might still have his best days ahead of him.  14 of 31

Los Angeles Kings: Ilya Kovalchuk

Maybe this is a testament to how far the Kings have fallen the past few years, but Kovalchuk probably really is the answer. At his peak he was one of the most dominant forwards in the league and was the league’s best goal scorer before Alex Ovechkin arrived. He spent a large chunk of his career playing in the KHL only to return this past season. The Kings coaching staff a year ago never seemed to trust him (or want him), but he should be poised for a bounce back year under Todd McLellan.  15 of 31

Minnesota Wild: Eric Staal

This was a toss-up between Staal and Zach Parise. But with Parise slowing down and Staal being the best goal scorer on the team in recent years, we are going with him. A few years ago Staal looked like his career was about ready to come to an end, but joining the Wild seemed to spark something for him and he has been a completely different player, even hitting the 40-goal mark once.

Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher

Gallagher has really evolved over the years, going from a depth player whose biggest intention seemed to be rattling the cages of his opponents to a legit top-line player who can score 30 goals. He has hit the 30-goal mark in each of the past two seasons and has become one of the Canadiens’ best and most important players.  17 of 31

Nashville Predators: Filip Forsberg

Predators general manager David Poile has assembled his team over the years through a series of major trades. The best of them all was getting Forsberg from the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat. Erat was a flop with the Capitals, while Forsberg has blossomed into one of the league’s best players and an outstanding goal scorer. Since joining the Predators, he has averaged more than 30 goals per 82 games.  18 of 31

New Jersey Devils: Taylor Hall

When healthy, Hall has been everything the Devils wanted him to be when they acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers for Adam Larsson. The big question for the Devils is whether they can convince him to re-sign with the team, especially as they are off to a brutal start of the 2019-20 season.  19 of 31

New York Islanders: Anders Lee

A sixth-round draft pick and at one time an afterthought in the Islanders organization, Lee has transformed into one of the best net-front players in the league and the best goal scorer on the team. With 28 goals a year ago, he showed that his production was not just the result of playing alongside John Tavares and that, yes, he can score on his own and help drive the offense.  20 of 31

New York Rangers: Artemi Panarin

From the moment he arrived in the NHL, Panarin has been one of the league’s most impactful offensive players. He is an outstanding playmaker who makes his linemates better, but he is also an outstanding goal scorer who is going to push the 30-goal mark every year. The Rangers signed him to a massive contract in free agency to be a significant part of their rebuild. 

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Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk

It is slim pickings on this Senators team for goal scoring talent. About 10 years ago the answer would have easily been Bobby Ryan, but he has not been that player for some time now. Brady Tkachuk is in only his second year in the league but has already shown a goal scoring touch and is one of the few bright spots that this team has to build around long term.  22 of 31

Philadelphia Flyers: James van Riemsdyk

Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier are the best players on the Flyers, but none of them has ever been a truly great goal scorer. Their brilliance is in their passing (Giroux, Voracek) and defensive play (Couturier). It is van Riemsdyk who has been one of the more overlooked goal scorers in the league and a truly good one. In his first year back with the Flyers in 2018-19, he scored 27 goals in only 66 games.  23 of 31

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby

Crosby is known more for his passing and “200-foot game,” but one of the most overlooked parts of his career is that he has two Rocket Richard Trophies on his resume. He makes the wingers around him better goal scorers, yet he is still the best goal scorer on his team — one of the best players ever.  24 of 31

San Jose Sharks: Logan Couture

With Joe Pavelski now in Dallas and Patrick Marleau at the age of 40, the Sharks do not really have a great pure goal scorer on their roster. They have a lot of great all-around players and impact offensive performers but nobody who has really established himself as a great goal scorer every year. The closest is probably Couture, the team’s best forward. In a good year he will challenge the 35 mark but is usually a good bet to score close to 30 for the Sharks.  25 of 31

St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko

He is probably the one player on the Blues’ 2018-19 Stanley Cup winning team who has a shot at the Hall of Fame. He is lock to score at least 30 goals every season and can carry the team’s offense on his back when he is at his best. He also proved to be a big-time performer in the playoffs with 33 goals in 70 career postseason games, including 11 during the team’s championship run. 

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Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos

The second best goal scorer of his era, trailing only the great Alex Ovechkin in Washington. Stamkos has five 40-goal seasons on his resume, including a pair of 50-goal campaigns (and one 60-goal season!). The disappointing thing is that his career could look even better had it not been for a run of serious injuries (plus a half-season lockout) between the ages of 23 and 26 that robbed him of a significant portion of his peak years. Even with that, he is still one of the most dangerous goal scorers in hockey.  27 of 31

Toronto Maple Leafs: John Tavares

There is a convincing case to be made for Auston Matthews to get this call for the Maple Leafs (he has scored at a 40-goal pace over the first three seasons of his career), but Tavares is coming off a 47-goal season and has been scoring at an elite rate in the NHL for more than a decade now. That is worth something. A lot, actually. He came to Toronto, his hometown, with huge expectations and a massive free agent contract and not only never seemed phased by the pressure, but he actually had the best season of his career.  28 of 31

Vancouver Canucks: Brock Boeser

It would be tempting to put Elias Pettersson here after the rookie season he had, and he is certainly the Canucks’ most impactful player. But a lot of his rookie goal scoring total came off a hot stretch in the first month of the season that he may not be able to duplicate. Boeser, on the other hand, has shown over two full seasons that he can regularly put the puck in the net. The only thing that has slowed him down is injury. If he can ever play 82 games, he might have a 40-goal season in his future.  29 of 31

Vegas Golden Knights: Max Pacioretty

Mark Stone is the best all-around player on this team, but Pacioretty still gets the slight edge when it comes to pure goal scoring. He may not be the 40-goal threat he was a couple of years ago when he was at his peak in Montreal, but as long as he stays healthy enough to play a full season he should be good for 30-35 goals.  30 of 31

Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin

I mean, come on. Who else was this going to be? There is a convincing argument to be made that Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer who has ever played in the NHL, and he has a legitimate shot to break Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record. Even if he does not, the fact he is going to seriously challenge it in this era of defensive, structured hockey with goaltending at the best level it has ever been is an incredible accomplishment. 

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Winnipeg Jets: Patrik Laine

Laine has already proved to be such a great goal scorer that when he scored 30 goals during the 2018-19 season (only his third season in the league) it was viewed as a down year for him. He has scored at least 30 goals every year he has been in the league and seems destined to have a couple of 50-goal seasons in his future. The Jets being positioned to draft him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2016 was one of the biggest turning points for the franchise. 

https://www.yardbarker.com/nhl/articles/the_best_pure_goal_scorer_for_every_nhl_team/s1__30275615#slide_31

By: Adam Gretz

Senators fire coach Guy Boucher

The Ottawa Senators have made another major move in their continuing rebuild, this time firing head coach Guy Boucher. Assistant coach Marc Crawford will take over in the interim as the team begins its search for a new head coach. GM Pierre Dorion had this to say in a press release:

I want to thank Guy for his three years of service. He is a good person and has been an excellent representative of the Senators. At this point, however, we need a different set of coaching and leadership skills to guide our team through this rebuild. In the interim, Marc will bring a different perspective along with a wealth of head coaching experience.

This move comes almost immediately after Dorion told Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia that the team would wait until the end of the season to evaluate Boucher’s future. Apparently Senators management changed its mind and made the move now to ensure different habits would be instilled over the last few weeks of the season. To that end, former Senators player Chris Kelly has been added to the coaching staff.

Boucher’s tenure in Ottawa comes to an end a few weeks before his three-year contract expired, and he’ll finish with a 94-108-26 record. His time in Ottawa went similar to his previous job in Tampa Bay, where he led the Lightning to an outstanding first season before struggling in years two and three. The Senators went 44-28-10 in 2016-17 before almost making it to the Stanley Cup Final but fell apart last season and have been a disaster this year.

The Sens announced their coaching search and explained what they are looking for in their next bench boss, with development and growth listed at the very top. Dorion admitted that Crawford would be considered for the full-time job, though it sounds more like the team is looking outside of the organization for a new head coach. Crawford of course has plenty of experience in the role, previously coaching the Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars, while also taking the Colorado Avalanche all the way to a Stanley Cup championship in 1996.

Full Article

By: Gavin Lee

Ranking all the NHL alternate jerseys from the 2018-19 season

After a spell without them, third jerseys are back for the NHL! Now, that may cause fear to rise in your gullet. At least it will if you are old enough to remember that first wave of (largely hideous) third jerseys from the ‘90s. Somehow, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks managed to make themselves look even worse! The NHL didn’t have alternate/third jerseys last year due to switching all their jerseys to Adidas. Now Adidas is able to crank out third jerseys for what is expected to be about 15-20 teams. Some of the looks have been seen before but not for the past few years. Here’s a look at all the third jerseys we know about, ranked in terms of quality.

21. Arizona Coyotes

Apparently we’re at a place where we’re willing to nostalgically accept these Coyotes jerseys as existing? Until they changed their look to a simpler style, Arizona, then Phoenix, was rivaled by only the Minnesota Wild for worse look in the league. We don’t care if they’re ironically bringing back the Kachina jerseys. They still look bad and are WAY too busy for a sports uniform.

20. Anaheim Ducks

Sorry, we aren’t going to buy your nostalgia, take two. The Anaheim logo with the duck-shaped hockey mask was dumb then, and it’s dumb now. However, the purple-and-teal look feels like it has aged a little better. The stripes are nice. The logo is still hot garbage.

19. New York Islanders

There are two things going against the Islanders’ third jerseys. One, it’s basically a replicant of the black third jersey they wore before, but now it’s blue. Two, it’s not an interesting logo, and it’s much worse than the traditional Islanders logo. It also lacks the kitschy fun of the fisherman logo. Just blah all around.

18. Philadelphia Flyers

These jerseys are too basic to be offensive but also too boring to be interesting. They look fine. This is a shrug in hockey jersey form. They better wear it around Halloween.

17. Los Angeles Kings

Straight up, we miss the yellow-and-purple crown look from the expansion era. Instead of that, the Kings are going with another gray alternate, a slight tweak from their 50th anniversary look. It’s not a bad look, but it doesn’t really stir up much in the way of feelings.

 

16. Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks and the Bruins aren’t wearing third jerseys, per se, but they did wear retro looks for the Winter Classic. Both are harkening back to their ‘30s looks. These Chicago ones are kind of crazy because they are just black and white. A Blackhawks jersey without a hint of red? That’s practically sacrilege!

15. Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers’ jersey is good and a reflection of their old look for their 40th anniversary. However, it’s not all that different from their usual look. They are just wearing a bright royal blue with the orange. It pops, but it’s not different enough to rank too high.

14. San Jose Sharks

Shocker! The Sharks have a black alternate jersey. Back in the day, “third jersey” basically meant “black jersey,” but now that isn’t the case so this isn’t quite as eye-rolling. They also have made the new logo blacker as well, borrowing from the aesthetic choices of “Spinal Tap.” And there’s a new shoulder logo with a fin poking out of the water, which is actually cool.

 

13. Ottawa Senators

Everything is terrible about the Senators…save for their expected third jersey. They are bringing back their centennial look, which has a great old school vibe. Their logo is just a big “O.” The simplicity works.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins

Like a character from the least-popular Austin Powers movie, the Penguins seem to love gold. That being said, these jerseys really pop. They are bright but not garish, and gold is deeply tied to Pittsburgh sports. The Stanley Cup may be silver, but gold still has its charm in the NHL.

11. Winnipeg Jets

The Jets’ look is cool. The blue they usually sport works great, the lettering of the logo is sharp, and I really like the stripe. It definitely is a classy jersey, but the Jets have such a good look normally, it feels like an unnecessary alternative.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto is expected to kick it very old school again by busting out its St. Pats jerseys, a shout out to a defunct hockey team based in the city. Hey, you can always wear it on St. Patrick’s Day and have it be a hit. It’s weird to see the Maple Leafs not wearing blue, but to be fair they also aren’t even wearing the words “maple” or “leafs.” That’s fun in and of itself, and the St. Pats jerseys are pretty nice as well

Full List

By: Chris Morgan

 

2019 NHL All-Star rosters announced

The NHL has announced the four rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game today, scheduled to be held on January 26th in San Jose. Earlier today, Alex Ovechkin, who was elected captain of Metropolitan Division squad, told the league that he wouldn’t be attending and will accept the punishment of missing one game either before or after the break. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews will represent the Pacific, Central and Atlantic respectively, as the other captains. A replacement captain for Ovechkin has yet to be named.

The full rosters are as follows:

Pacific Division

John Gibson (ANA)
Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK)

D Erik Karlsson (SJS)
Brent Burns (SJS)
Drew Doughty (LAK)

Connor McDavid (EDM)*
Johnny Gaudreau (CGY)
Joe Pavelski (SJS)
F Elias Pettersson (VAN)
F Clayton Keller (ARI)

Central Division

Pekka Rinne (NSH)
Devan Dubnyk (MIN)

D Roman Josi (NSH)
D Miro Heiskanen (DAL)

Nathan MacKinnon (COL)*
Mikko Rantanen (COL)
Blake Wheeler (WPG)
Patrick Kane (CHI)

Mark Scheifele (WPG)
F Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

Atlantic Division

Jimmy Howard (DET)
G Carey Price (MTL)

Keith Yandle (FLA)
D Thomas Chabot (OTT)

F Auston Matthews (TOR)*
F Nikita Kucherov (TBL)
F Steven Stamkos (TBL)
John Tavares (TOR)

F David Pastrnak (BOS)
F Jack Eichel (BUF)

Full List

By Zach Leach

Bruins’ Brad Marchand set to return for Winter Classic

The Boston Bruins should get a boost just in time for the Winter Classic on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen reports that Brad Marchand should be ready to go after practicing today, barring any setbacks. He missed Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury, but it looks like it wasn’t a serious issue.

Marchand is having another solid campaign with 12 goals and 41 points in 39 games this season.

Rosen also reports that defenseman Charlie McAvoy remains questionable for the big game. McAvoy has missed two games with a lower-body injury and did not practice today. The gifted defenseman has struggled with injuries and has appeared in just 17 games this year, although he has 11 points.

In other NHL injury notes:

  • Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post writes that Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen will be out Monday against Nashville and miss his second straight game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. However, the team got better news on Brooks Orpik, who is listed as a game-time decision for Monday after missing 27 games with a right-knee injury. Khurshudyan reports both players practiced Sunday and are close to returning. The team has also been without Christian Djoos.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins could be without forward Bryan Rust and defenseman Olli Maatta on Monday as both are listed as day-to-day, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Matt Vensel. Rust didn’t practice today with an undisclosed injury, and Maatta suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s game against St. Louis, but finished the game. He also didn’t practice today.
  • Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports that Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau is close to a return. While he’s not expected to play Monday, he could be back not long after that. The 26-year-old has been out all season after having surgery to repair a torn Achilles. He had a six-month timetable in mid-September and is well ahead of schedule. Pageau had 14 goals and 29 points last season.

By Holger Stolzenberg

Original Article

Senators place three players on IR following loss to Flyers

The Ottawa Senators were off to a better-than-expected start in the early going of the season, but Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers seems to have derailed things quite a bit. In a match that reminded of a past decade with line brawls and physical play, the Senators left the loss with several injuries. Today they have placed Cody Ceci, Ryan Dzingel and Alex Formenton on injured reserve. While the other two are dealing with undisclosed injuries, Formenton has a concussion. Christian Jaros and Nick Paul have been recalled from the AHL to fill in.

The Senators weren’t expected by many people to win many games this season, but after looking at least competitive in the early going there was some hope growing. Players like Formenton and Thomas Chabot were showing what the next wave of talent could bring, while Mark Stone looked worth every penny of the $7.35M contract he signed this summer. Injuries like this though will truly test the team’s depth, given that it was already razor thin at the NHL level. Jaros looked great in the preseason and could make an impact if inserted into the lineup — something that’s not guaranteed given Ben Harpur’s imminent return — but Paul has struggled so many times before for the Senators that there is little excitement about his return.

A concussion is one of the worst-case scenarios in this situation, given the uncertain health effects that they can cause. Formenton is a bright spot for the future given his speed and offensive upside and also gave fans a little taste of his toughness by getting involved in several scrums and a battle with Philadelphia’s Robert Hagg. Unfortunately it was a cross-check delivered to his head by Jori Lehtera that likely caused the injury, which will at the very least slow down Formenton’s early development.

By Gavin Lee

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The Pens Win In Overtime, And I Am 100% Behind the Predators.

Written by Cody Benjamin at CBS Sports.com

It took more than four periods of hockey — and a whole lot of attempts on Craig Anderson — Thursday night in Game 7 against an Eastern Conference underdog, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are headed back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Two games after being pulled twice from a 7-0 blowout loss, Anderson nearly had his second straight 40-save night in the net for the Ottawa Senators, pushing the favored Pens and defending title winners into double overtime after falling behind on two occasions.

But the Pens, with a relentless offensive attack, got the winning goal from Chris Kunitz to lock up a return trip to the Final and a chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions with a 3-2 decision.

A game after the Pens unloaded 46 shots against Anderson, neither team was overly successful in replicating action in front of the net, at least early on. Pittsburgh managed just six shots on goal in the first period, while Ottawa had just five shots at Matt Murray.

The defensive back-and-forth continued after a second-period strike from Kunitz put Pittsburgh up 1-0 — and an immediate Senators response in the form of a Mark Stone goal just 20 seconds later. And while Guy Boucher’s physical team failed to convert on a pair of power-play tries, an all-too-familiar issue for the Sens this postseason, it also kept up against Sidney Crosby and the speedy Pens, excelling in efforts to halt second- and third-chance shots in front of Anderson.

Ottawa’s resiliency was the highlight of a thrilling third period, too.

Officiating went in both directions over the course of the Eastern Conference finals, with some Pens fans arguing that a goalie interference call from Tuesday’s Game 6 ruined Pittsburgh’s shot at putting away the Sens. And penalties resurfaced to play a role in the final period of regulation Thursday, this time benefiting the defending Stanley Cup champs on an interference call against Dion Phaneuf, whose flagged tussle with Phil Kessel was more the result of a dive onto the ice by the latter than any kind of blatant roughness.

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Pens Take Game 5, Winning 7-0. Now Lead Series 3-2

Written by Justin Cuthbert at YahooSports.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins torched the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday afternoon and moved to within a win of advancing back to the Stanley Cup Final to defend their crown.

Matt Murray made 21 saves for the shutout in his second start in these playoffs, while seven different Penguins scored in the 7-0 thrashing.

It began with a blitz in the first period as the Penguins scored four goals on 15 shots, quickly putting the game out of reach like the Senators had with their own offensive explosion back in Game 3.

Olli Maatta opened the scoring, launching a mammoth blast from the point on a quick counter created off a horrible turnover near the blue line by Mike Hoffman.

After Sidney Crosby struck in a third consecutive game to double the lead four minutes later with a tip on the power play, the Senators’ teetering defensive-zone coverage completely collapsed. The Penguins hemmed them in their own end for more than two minutes before another atrocious failed exit led to Nick Bonino winding up in a dangerous area. His shot caught the inside of Bryan Rust’s leg and evaded Craig Anderson, briefly sending the netminder to the chair at the end of Ottawa’s bench.

Mike Condon came out to replace Anderson, and made one save before Guy Boucher surprised by returning his starter returned during a stoppage. It backfired almost instantaneously, as Scott Wilson shovelled a rebound back toward the front of the net, which bounced in off Anderson, who was late to seal his post, to make it 4-0.

He finished the period, but was replaced for good to start the second.

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Senators Dominate Penguins To Take Game 3

Written by Jason Mackey at Pittsburgh Post Gazette.com

Marc-Andre Fleury played the part of easy target after the Penguins’ 5-1 loss to the Senators in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final on Wednesday at Canadian Tire Centre, allowing four goals on the first nine shots he faced.

Accurate? Yeah, right. Just ask Matt Cullen, who was fairly steaming after this one.

“We played like [expletive],” Cullen said. “No excuses. That’s the bottom line. We didn’t battle. We didn’t work as hard as we needed to. It’s the conference finals. To have that kind of effort is pretty tough to stomach.”

The effort Cullen mentioned prohibited the Penguins from penetrating the Senators’ defensive structure enough to generate more than 26 shots on goal and make goaltender Craig Anderson’s life miserable.

Another playoff game, more missing offense. The Penguins have now scored two or fewer goals in seven of their past eight.

“Flower has carried us here,” Cullen said. “He’s played so well for us. That makes it even worse that we kind of hung him out to dry. Bottom line is we didn’t play well. We have to figure it out here as a group. We have to understand that it’s not going to be easy. We have to put our best effort out there. We have to win battles. We have to fight a little bit. We didn’t tonight.”

Four of the Penguins’ top-six forwards have struggled to score of late.

Sidney Crosby’s third period goal snapped a seven-game goal-less stretch for him. An encouraging sign but not enough. Conor Sheary hasn’t scored in 14, Chris Kunitz 10 and Jake Guentzel four. Hardly ideal production from four of your top six forwards.

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Penguins Tie Series With Ottawa, After Winning Game 2

Written by Craig Custance at ESPN.com

An angry Phil Kessel ended up being a very good thing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. On a couple of occasions during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday, he was shown on the bench, yelling in frustration. Sometimes to himself. Sometimes in the direction of teammates. He was most certainly engaged.

Then he buried a shot late in the third period, only the second time in the series the Penguins beat Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, and it was all good.

The Penguins beat the Senators 1-0 Monday to even up this series at one game each.

How they did it: The Penguins used their speed much more effectively in generating consistent offensive pressure, even if it took until late in the third period to finally capitalize. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wanted to see more shooting, and his team responded with a 29-23 edge in shots. The Penguins have struggled with possession this postseason, but around the time Kessel finally broke the scoreless tie, the Penguins were controlling 64 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

It was an impressive showing, especially considering the players the Penguins were missing due to injuries.

More Penguins injured: The Penguins’ defense took another serious blow when their best remaining offensive defenseman, Justin Schultz, crashed into the boards in the first period and left the ice, heading directly down the tunnel. He didn’t return. If he’s out any length of time, it’s a major loss for a defense that is already having trouble getting the puck out if its own zone without Kris Letang and Trevor Daley. Daley skated on his own again Monday morning before the team’s game-day practice.

The Penguins also lost forward Bryan Rust when he was leveled by Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf in the first period.

Phaneuf a physical force: This was classic Phaneuf. He was a one-man wrecking crew for a large portion of Game 2, starting with his open-ice hit on Rust in the first period. But Phaneuf didn’t stop there in a contest that was more physical than Game 1.

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