Biggest surprises of the NHL playoffs so far

With the second round of the NHL playoffs underway, the chances of a perfect bracket are slim to none. According to NHL.com, there are only five perfect brackets remaining.

Because of the chaos, there have been many surprises since the first game of the 2019 NHL playoffs. We look at the biggest shockers of the first round.

Lightning sent home thanks to Blue Jackets

  • Led by head coach John Tortorella , the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the President’s Trophy winners, even after Tampa’s historical regular season.
  • The Lightning were one of the best offensive teams in the league this season but were outscored, 19-8, in the series and had scarce offensive output from their best players.
  • With 128 points during the regular season, Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov registered only two assists in four games for the Bolts.
  • This is the first time in NHL history that a No. 1 overall seed has been swept in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jets were grounded after six games

  • After making it to the Western Conference finals last season, the Winnipeg Jets were the most favored Canadian squad to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • The Jets lost in six games to the St. Louis Blues, who have won 12 of their past 16 games dating back to March 16.
  • All of Winnipeg’s losses came by one goal, as well as both their victories.
  • Even in their own arena during Game 5, the Jets allowed three goals in the third period and lost, 3-2.

Some of the league’s top players were shut down

  • Arguably the best player of the past decade, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby registered one assist in the playoffs — the lowest postseason point total of his career. He finished with a minus-4 in four games, the worst mark of his postseason career.
  • Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau also finished with one assist in five games with a minus-2 rating after scoring 99 points in the regular season.
  • Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist for the Predators and was not much of a factor, and the Dallas Stars took advantage, taking the series in six games.
  • Steven Stamkos also had a goal and an assist, with a plus/minus of minus-8. You could say he was a defensive liability for the Lightning.

Golden Knights get robbed in Game 7

  • Up 3-0 in Game 7, Vegas’ Cody Eakin cross-checked San Jose’s Joe Pavelski to the ice. Eakin was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct.
  • San Jose had an unreal comeback, netting four goals on the 5-minute power play to take the lead, with two goals coming from Logan Couture.
  • The Sharks won with two minutes left in overtime thanks to a goal from Barclay Goodrow, who only played two shifts the entire period.
  • On Thursday, the NHL apologized to the Golden Knights and admitted the referees were incorrect on Eakin’s penalty. That does not change anything for the Golden Knights.

A “Bunch of Jerks” beat the defending champs on the road in Game 7

  • One of the biggest underdogs in the playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes took the Washington Capitals to double overtime and advanced on a goal from Brock McGinn.
  • The Caps’ Alex Ovechkin had seven goals in the series but finished with a minus-2. He was a force in the offensive end but not so much on defense.
  • Warren Foegele led the Canes with four goals. In 77 regular- season games, Foegele had 10 total goals. The third liner has been great in his first playoff series.
  • The Hurricanes advance to the second round for the first time since 2009, when they made it to the Eastern Conference finals.

By: Trevor Drake

Original Article

Sharks’ Joe Thornton receives one-game suspension

The Sharks will be without center Joe Thornton for Game Four of their first-round series against Vegas after the Department of Player Safety announced (video link) that he has been given a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head on Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek.

The incident occurred in the second period on Sunday night when Thornton caught Nosek’s head with his shoulder after Nosek had made a pass. Despite receiving a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head on the play, Thornton told reporters postgame, including Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News, that he didn’t think it warranted any supplemental discipline:

I honestly thought I barely touched him.  He just came right back; it was just one of those plays that it is what it is. I think my son hits me like that six times a day, it’s just a weird position to put himself in. That’s all.

Original Article

By: Brian La Rose

The biggest storylines in 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs

The 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs are set to begin, so settle in for two months of unpredictable chaos, madness and excitement. Some of the big stories worth watching include the Washington Capitals‘ pursuit of a repeat, Tampa Bay’s quest to finally get over the hump and Sergei Bobrovsky’s attempt to solve his postseason demons. All of these are among our 20 biggest storylines to watch in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Can the Capitals repeat?

Winning the Stanley Cup once is incredibly difficult. Winning it two years in a row is even harder. It is something that has been done only three times since 1990, and the Capitals are going to try to add to that list. They still have all of the superstars that made their 2018 championship possible and made some smart additions at the trade deadline to bring in Carl Hagelin and Nick Jensen to sure up the defense. They have all of the ingredients at their disposal to do it.

Will the Lightning finish it this season?

After experiencing repeated playoff heartbreak over the past four years, the Lightning are back and better than ever this season. They completed one of the best regular seasons in NHL history, and they enter the playoffs as the clear favorites to win the Stanley Cup. If they do not reach at least the Stanley Cup Final with this roster, it will be their biggest postseason disappointment yet.

The Golden Knights’ encore performance

So much to watch with the Golden Knights. Will they have their over-the-top pregame performances? Will they be able to make another run to the Stanley Cup Final? Can they actually win it all in Year 2? You have to like their chances not only because of the strength of their roster but also because their path through the Pacific Division bracket features two teams with significant question marks in goal. That is a good position to have an advantage in this time of year.

Joe Thornton’s last ride?

The only thing Thornton’s Hall of Fame career is missing is his name on the Stanley Cup, and this might be his last best shot to do it. He is not getting any younger, it is not known how much longer he is going to play in the NHL, and the San Jose Sharks went all in on this season to try to get a championship. They will need a healthy Erik Karlsson to get there and for Martin Jones to get his act together in net after a miserable regular season.

Will the Stanley Cup return to Canada?

A Canadian-0based NHL team has not won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens did so all the way back in 1993. There are three Canadian teams that have a chance to do it this season with Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg all punching their tickets to the playoffs. The Flames, having finished the year with the best record in the Western Conference, seem to be the team with the best chance to do it, but they have major questions in goal. The Maple Leafs have to get through their arch nemesis in Boston, while the Jets have been trending in the wrong direction down the stretch.

 

Can the Maple Leafs get out of the first round?

If they do not, there is going to be some intense scrutiny in Toronto. Not only do the Maple Leafs need to win as a team, but coach Mike Babcock also needs to advance for the sake of his own reputation. There have been 23 different coaches who have won a playoff series since a Babcock-coached team has, while he has made it out of the first round just once since 2010. That is not what you want from the highest-paid coach in the NHL

The Islanders return to the playoffs

Nobody expected the New York Islanders to be here. After missing the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and then losing John Tavares in free agency, expectations were as low as humanly possible for them at the start of the year. But they defied the odds all year and put together one of the most incredible one-year turnarounds in recent NHL history, going from the worst defensive team in the league a year ago to the best this season. How long can their goalies continue their great play and will they find enough offense? Those going to be the big questions for them.

Full List Here

By: Adam Gretz

10 thoughts after the NHL trade deadline

In a lot of ways the 2019 NHL trade deadline was a predictable one.

The Ottawa Senators sold off their few remaining good players. The Nashville Predators were heavy buyers. Teams like the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders that appear to be ahead of schedule did not mess with what has worked for them so far and decided to stay the course and see where their current rosters can take them. There also were not really any major shockers, outside of maybe Mikael Granlund being traded by Minnesota, in terms of the players who did get moved.

But there were still a few surprises thrown in.

The Columbus Blue Jackets went wild and mortgaged their short-term future for the hope of even shorter-term success, the San Jose Sharks doubled down on their confidence in Martin Jones, the Vegas Golden Knights went after the big fish again and the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals made some minor tweaks to their rosters.

We examine all of that and more with 10 thoughts and observations after the NHL trade deadline.

1.  Columbus has everything riding on this season

Keeping Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky was a pretty good indication that the Columbus Blue Jackets were willing to see what they could do this season instead of being resigned to the fact they will lose both over the summer, and thus trading them before the deadline. But then they doubled down on that by being the biggest buyers at the deadline by giving up draft picks and prospects for rentals Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid. That leaves the Blue Jackets with six unrestricted free agents after this season (including Panarin, Bobrovsky, Duchene and Dzingel) and only two draft picks in the 2019 class: a third-rounder and a seventh-rounder. That is the definition of “all-in.” The wild thing about this is that they are not even a lock to make the playoffs. This could all go south very quickly if they do not secure one of the top eight seeds in the Eastern Conference.

2. The Sharks have everything riding on Martin Jones

The San Jose Sharks made themselves better at the trade deadline by getting Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings, making an already deep team that much stronger. They did not, however, address the biggest question mark facing them: goaltending. The tag-team duo of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell has not played up to a championship level this season and that could prove to be the team’s ultimate undoing in the playoffs. Jones has never been one to steal games for the Sharks, but he has always been, at worst, a league-average to slightly above-league-average starter. If he can return to that form and play at that level, the Sharks will be a formidable team in the playoffs. If he does not, it could derail a potential championship season.

3. The Flames have a lot of faith in their team

The San Jose Sharks added Nyquist. The Vegas Golden Knights added Mark Stone. The Nashville Predators added Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds. The Winnipeg Jets added Kevin Hayes. All of the top contenders in the Western Conference added a significant player. The Calgary Flames? Added Oscar Fantenberg. A depth defender. No insurance in goal. No additional depth up front. They are riding into the playoffs with the team that has gotten them to this point in the season. Sometimes that is a good thing.

4. The Detroit Red Wings probably should have done more

It is a few years overdue, but the Detroit Red Wings have finally started to rebuild their aging, expensive, declining roster. They have assembled a ton of draft picks and have at least set themselves up for a chance to restock the cupboards. But why didn’t they do more? Trading Nyquist was a necessary move, given his pending status as a UFA, but was there really no market for Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek or any other veteran on the team? It just seems like there was a chance here to move more players and get even more draft picks for the future.

5. The Nashville Predators love blockbusters

David Poile has assembled a powerhouse team in Nashville and somehow still kept his team well under the league’s salary cap. He’s also scored some of the biggest trades in the NHL over the past few years acquiring P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Kyle Turris as part of blockbuster deals. He added to that at the trade deadline by pulling a stunner when he sent Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild for Granlund and then acquiring Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers. Oh, and don’t forget about that pre-deadline deal to get Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils. That is what going all in looks like for a Stanley Cup contender, and, amazingly, his team is still in a great position under the salary cap in future seasons. A lot of times when GM’s swing for the fences on big trades, they start to eventually come up empty. That has yet to happen for Poile, who just keeps hitting home runs.

6. The Vegas Golden Knights go big

Even though they were in the Stanley Cup Final a year ago, it is still remarkable to see the Vegas Golden Knights, in Year 2 of their existence, going after the big-ticket players. They went all in trying to get Erik Karlsson. When that failed they traded for Max Pacioretty and signed Paul Stastny. Now they pulled off one of the biggest scores of the deadline in getting Stone from the Ottawa Senators, then agreed to a new contract. Stone is a star, a true top-line winger, and a player who can make a difference for an already strong team that is a contender. He is still in the prime of his career, making this a huge score for both the short term and long term.

7. Did Boston do enough?

The Boston Bruins are an outstanding team and a sneaky contender in the Eastern Conference, getting lost in the shadow of Tampa Bay and Toronto. But the top half of their lineup is as good as anybody’s in the league, and they have two goalies playing at an extremely high level in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Their big question has been depth, as there has been little offensive production after Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug (when they are healthy). They attempted to address that by acquiring Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. They are solid additions, and Johansson has been especially hot lately now that he is healthy. But will they be enough to get the Bruins through what will almost certainly be a daunting playoff run in the Atlantic Division that will probably include both the Maple Leafs and Lightning?

Full 10

By: Adam Gretz

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

 

NHL Power Rankings: Standout rookies for all 31 teams

Youth continues to be served in the NHL, as almost every team has a first-year player making an impact. For this week’s ESPN NHL Power Rankings — voted on as always by ESPN’s panel of experts — we take a look at some of its best freshmen (or, in some cases, middle schoolers waiting to get the call-up to the big school) of the 2018-19 season thus far.

1. Nashville Predators

Previous ranking: 1

Eeli Tolvanen. There was a time when this talented Finnish winger was being chatted up as a potential Calder Trophy contender, before being demoted to the AHL in the preseason. So far, he has eight points in 14 games with Milwaukee, with four of his seven assists coming on the power play.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

Previous ranking: 2

Anthony Cirelli. The Lightning forward has four points in 15 games, skating 13:50 per night, with a minus-4 goal differential at 5-on-5.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous ranking: 5

Igor Ozhiganov. The 25-year-old KHL import doesn’t have a point in 12 games while skating 13:50 per night. As Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star wrote: “He hasn’t done anything particularly noteworthy — no big goals, or memorable passes. But he hasn’t done anything wrong, and that in itself is often praise-worthy of a defenseman.” So, congrats on not being noteworthy, Igor.

4. Colorado Avalanche

Previous ranking: 3

Vladislav Kamenev. Acquired from the Predators as part of the Matt Duchene trade, Kamenev had his arm broken by defenseman Brooks Orpik last season, limiting him to just three games. He’s played nine games this season with a goal and an assist, skating just 9:05 per game as a fourth-line center.

5. San Jose Sharks

Previous ranking: 6

Antti Suomela. The 24-year-old Finnish center has two goals and three assists in 14 games. His 1.91 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 is third best on the Sharks this season.

6. Boston Bruins

Previous ranking: 7

Ryan Donato. One of the most surprising demotions of the season thus far. Donato had one goal in 11 games and was sent down to AHL Providence to work on his offensive game. That’s after his incredible nine points in 12 games debut for the Bruins in 2017-18.

7. Winnipeg Jets

Previous ranking: 8

Brendan Lemieux. The most notable accomplishment for the spawn of Claude Lemieux this season has been a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Vincent Trocheck. Otherwise, he’s averaged 5:32 per game and is a minus-17 in shot attempts at 5-on-5.

8. Washington Capitals

Previous ranking: 10

Travis Boyd. The depth forward, 25, was injured in the preseason and returned on Nov. 5 with two assists against the Oilers.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

Previous ranking: 4

Juuso Riikola. Injuries on defense for the Penguins gave the 24-year-old Finn some early-season chances. He’s been a bit overwhelmed, to the tune of minus-39 in shot attempts, worst among Pittsburgh defensemen. Yes, including Jack Johnson.

10. Minnesota Wild

Previous ranking: 9

Jordan Greenway. The promising winger was sent down to the AHL after a rough start, playing a couple of games for Iowa. He returned with a rediscovered confidence, and has a goal and two assists in his last four games.

11. Calgary Flames

Previous ranking: 15

Juuso Valimaki. Another Finn! Valimaki, a first-rounder for the Flames in 2017, is skating 14:46 per game. He’s on the plus side of possession but has a minus-5 in goal differential.

12. Vancouver Canucks

Previous ranking: 24

Elias Pettersson. The Canucks star rookie became the first player to record 16-plus points through his first 10 career NHL games since 1992-93, when Dimitri Kvartalnov and Nikolai Borschevsky accomplished the feat. You heard it here first: Elias Pettersson, the new Nikolai Borschevsky.

13. New York Islanders

Previous ranking: 16

Josh Ho-Sang. As usual, interesting things are happening around Josh Ho-Sang. He was on fire for the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, including a 12 points in 12 games run. At the same time, he had to apologize for comments he gave to the New York Post about his lack of premium ice time.

14. Montreal Canadiens

Previous ranking: 14

Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He’s 18 years old, the No. 3 overall pick in June, and has seven points in his first 15 NHL games for the resurgent Habs.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets

Previous ranking: 17

Calvin Thurkauf. He’s missed a bit with an undisclosed injury, but the former Swiss world junior team captain had 24 points in 75 games with Cleveland last season. He’s got some upside, and the Jackets will have an eye on the AHL to see what the winger does in his second pro season.

Full List

By: Greg Wyshynski

Oilers Take Lead in Series Against Sharks Winning Game 5

Written by Curtis Pashelka at The Mercury News.com

The Sharks went into a defensive shell for the final 10 minutes of the third period on Thursday as they desperately tried to protect a one-goal lead against the surging Edmonton Oilers.

When that failed, the Sharks couldn’t re-establish any type of momentum in overtime.

It all might end up costing the Sharks their season.

Goalie Martin Jones was brilliant but couldn’t stop a shot from David Desharnais, who redirected a pass from Leon Draisaitl with 1:45 left in overtime to give the Oilers a riveting 4-3 win in Game 5 of the back-and-forth opening round playoff series.

Jones had 13 saves in overtime, but Desharnais put himself in a perfect spot to receive a pass from Draisaitl. He beat Tomas Hertl to the slot and found the net to send the sold out Rogers Place crowd into hysterics and the Sharks to the brink of elimination.

Oscar Klefbom scored with 2:46 left in the third period to tie the game 3-3, as the Oilers came all the way back after trailing by two goals to take a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 on Saturday in San Jose.

“What can we do? We’ve just got to get ready for the next one,” Jones said. “Our backs are against the wall now. So we’ve got to play with some urgency and win a home game.”

Only a handful of sensational saves by Jones in overtime allowed the game to go as long as it did.

Jones had 32 saves in regulation time and was epic in overtime, stopping Draisaitl point blank and making another save on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after the puck had bounced behind him. Jones also stopped shots by Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle, as the Oilers recorded 12 of the first 14 shots in overtime.

The Sharks were hoping they could withstand the Oilers’ pressure in overtime and eventually find their footing.

“But you’re playing with fire when you’re playing in your own end the whole time,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. “We couldn’t reestablish any offensive momentum, and I think it’s because of our mindset the last 10 minutes of the third. We were defending and sitting on the lead and did a great job of that, made one mistake and couldn’t get it back again.”

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San Jose Shocks Edmonton In Game One

Written by Marc Spector at SportsNet.ca

Wait… What?

This wasn’t supposed to be a coronation?

The question wasn’t “Would the Edmonton Oilers win?” It was, “How many games would it take the San Jose Sharks to lose?”

Welcome to playoff hockey, Edmonton. You wait 11 years for it, and in a quick three hours it breaks your heart.

“They had the puck all night,” said Connor McDavid, in a matter-of-fact assessment of his team’s 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 of Edmonton’s Round 1 series with San Jose. “When you don’t have the puck you’re not going to get many shots on goal. They did a good job.”

Does a 44-19 shots advantage for the road team in Game 1 constitute “a good job?” You bet it does.

Sometimes shots on goal is a deceiving stat. But when the period totals are 10-10 in the first, 10-4 in the second, 18-3 in the third and 6-2 in OT — the latter three in favour of the Sharks — the shot clock tells you which team dominated in the first playoff game played in Edmonton since the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

Edmonton led 2-0 after 20 minutes on a fluky carom and a powerplay goal, then watched the Sharks absolutely take the game away from them (with some help from six Oilers minor penalties). Eventually, Melker Karlsson would take a wide pass from Joe Pavelski and rip a wrist shot far side on Cam Talbot, settling this one at the 3:22 mark of the first overtime.

The better team on the night won Game 1. Of that there is absolutely no doubt.

“They were able to grab the game and we were unable to grab it back,” said Todd McLellan, the Oilers coach who might have had an edge against the team he coached for seven seasons, had his charges been able to deliver on that edge against an experienced Sharks team that lost the Cup Final to Pittsburgh a year ago.

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Marleau Scores Four In Win Over Avalanche

Written by Rick Sadowski at NHL.com

Patrick Marleau had the first four-goal game of his NHL career, scoring them on four shots in the third period, to help the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Monday.

San Jose (30-16-2) won its season-high fifth game in a row to remain one point behind the first-place Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division.

Marleau is the 12th player in NHL history to score four goals in a period, and the first since former Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux on Jan. 26, 1997 against the Montreal Canadiens.

“It was a good period to have,” said Marleau, who had gone seven games without a goal and has 16 this season and 497 in his NHL career.

Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic set up Marleau for his first goal, which came on a tip at 2:53 to break a 1-1 tie, and his fourth on a breakaway at 16:23 for a 5-2 lead.

Marleau said he started thinking about a hat trick after he scored his second goal at 5:57 on a wraparound, jamming the puck between the left post and goalie Spencer Martin’s skate to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead.

“[Sharks forward Logan Couture] said something to me on the bench, ‘Let’s go get that third one,'” Marleau said. “That’s when you’re thinking about it and guys are rooting for you, so it makes it fun.”

Marleau completed his hat trick at 10:35 shortly after serving a hooking penalty, converting Joe Pavelski’s pass on a 2-on-1 rush to make it 4-1.

“Great player,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “Still a lot of gas left in the tank, a lot of juice left in those legs. Considering our schedule and his age (37), to play a game like that, that’s an exceptional feat. It’s an exceptional feat when you’re 22, never mind 37 in the middle of seven games in 11 nights. He’s a great player. It was great to be part of it.”

Colorado (13-30-2), which lost its sixth consecutive game (0-5-1), was short one forward after center Matt Duchene was scratched because of illness shortly before the opening faceoff.

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Penguins Win Their Fourth Stanley Cup


Written by Dave Molinari at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com

Sure, talent matters.

More than just about anything, probably.

So a team whose payroll is studded with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang, among others, almost has an almost unfair advantage.

But it takes commitment to forge a champion, as the Penguins proved again in the third period of their 3-1 victory against San Jose in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final Sunday night at SAP Center.

The victory secured the team’s fourth championship and, in the process, etched June 12, 2016, alongside the most celebrated dates in franchise history.

Right next to May 25, 1991, June 1, 1992, and June 12, 2009, when they won their first three Cups.

Just as Crosby scrawled his name beside that of Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Malkin (2009) as the Penguins’ winners of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

But Crosby’s receipt of the Smythe — to say nothing of the outcome of Game 6 —was far from certain after 40 minutes.

The Penguins had a 2-1 lead on goals by Brian Dumoulin (yes, that Brian Dumoulin) and Letang, but they knew the Sharks were just one shot from tying the score.

And San Jose got that shot.

Singular.

Unfortunately for the Sharks, Penguins goalie Matt Murray stopped it.

They did not get another until the final minute of regulation, and only after Patric Hornqvist had scored into an empty net at 18:58 to purge any lingering suspense about the outcome.

The commitment the Penguins made to winning a championship couldn’t have been more obvious during those first 19 minutes of the third. They blocked shots with every available body part, broke up potential scoring plays by any means necessary.

“That’s the type of team we are,” left winger Carl Hagelin said. “No one cares about individual stats. We want to get the puck out [of the defensive zone] and do our job.”

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