Friday, May 22, 2015

St. Louis, Rangers Strike Back



The drought is over for Martin St. Louis (Vermont), and the New York Rangers are right back in the NHL's Eastern Conference Final.
 
St. Louis scored his first goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Rangers defeated the host Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-1, at Amalie Arena on Friday evening in Florida. The best-of-seven series is now tied at two games apiece.
 
After the Rangers had taken a 1-0 first-period lead and Tampa Bay came back to tie it in the middle frame, Chris Kreider (Boston College) put home a loose puck late in the second stanza for the game-winner, his team-leading seventh goal of the postseason, before New York added another goal less than two minutes later.
 
The Rangers then tacked on two more goals in the third, including St. Louis’ first playoff goal since Game Four of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against Los Angeles. Kevin Hayes (Boston College) had two assists for New York, while Carl Hagelin (Michigan) and Dan Boyle (Miami) finished with one apiece.
 
Ben Bishop (Maine) finished with 19 saves and fell to 10-7 this spring for the Lightning, which outshot New York, 39-24. The Rangers again scored two power-play goals in four attempts, while Tampa Bay, which got an assist from Alex Killorn (Harvard) on its lone goal, was blanked in four man-advantage opportunities.
 
It was the first playoff win by the Rangers by more than one goal since last year’s Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens. It also marked the second straight contest this year that New York tallied five goals, including a 6-5 overtime loss in Game Three on Wednesday. 
 
Game Five will be played Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, while the winner of that outing will look to close out the series in Game Six on Tuesday evening in Tampa.

Larkin Leaves Michigan, Signs with Red Wings




University of Michigan freshman forward Dylan Larkin has played his final game for the Wolverines. The Waterford, Mich. native has signed a three-year contract with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, who drafted him 15th overall last year.

Larkin, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound center, finished second on the U-M scoring scroll, and second in both Big Ten scoring last season, with 15 goals and 32 assists for 47 points in 35 games. He posted 13 multiple-point outings, including a five-point contest and a pair of four-point matches, and also put up four three-assist performances, according to his profile at USCHO.com.

He led all Big Ten rookies in scoring, and earned First Team All-Big Ten and Second Team All-America accolades. He also played for the U.S. at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships in Canada over the Christmas break, tallying a team-high five goals and seven points.

Larkin, 18, played his final collegiate game in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament on March 21, after being named Big Ten Rookie of the Year, according to mlive.com.

Larkin won a bronze medal earlier this month while playing with the pro-laden U.S. squad at the 2015 IIHF World Championships in the Czech Republic, notching an assist while appearing in all 10 games. He is expected to report immediately to Grand Rapids (AHL) for its Western Conference final series with Utica that begins Sunday, via College Hockey News.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lightning Take Lead in Eastern Conference Final in OT


Dan Boyle (Miami) tied the game with 1:56 remaining in regulation, but the New York Rangers still went down to defeat, 6-5, in overtime on Wednesday night in Florida. The Tampa Bay Lightning now hold a two games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final.

It was New York's first OT setback in five NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games this spring, and it also marked the second straight contest that it allowed six goals, following a 6-2 defeat on Monday in Game 2 in Manhattan.

Boyle set up the Rangers' first goal of the evening as New York took a 2-0 lead, with Derek Stepan (Wisconsin), Chris Kreider (Boston College) and Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin) all drawing assists. Tampa Bay struck back with four straight tallies spanning the first and second periods, the last by Alex Killorn (Harvard) to give him three goals in his last two outings.

The Rangers, who finished with two power-play goals in four chances, tied the contest as Stepan set up their third goal late in the second stanza, before McDonagh scored the tying marker early in the third session off an assist from Kevin Hayes (Boston College). The Lightning then regained the lead, 5-4, with less than six minutes left, setting the stage for Boyle's temporary heroics before Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov wristed home the game-winner 3:33 into sudden death.

Ben Bishop (Maine) finished with 23 saves for the Lightning, who outshot the Rangers, 40-28. Game 4 is Friday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blackhawks Tie Western Final at Game Apiece




Andrew Cogliano (Michigan) helped pull the host Anaheim Ducks into a tie following an early two-goal deficit, but it was the Chicago Blackhawks who survived the three-overtime contest with a 3-2 win on Tuesday night at the Honda Center. The Western Conference final is now tied at a game apiece.

Marcus Kruger’s goal at 16:12 of the third extra session ended it, after Brad Shaw’s headbutt goal in the second overtime was disallowed. Shaw did score the first goal of the game, on a power-play deflection in the first period off assists from Duncan Keith (Michigan State) and Jonathan Toews (North Dakota). After Chicago made it 2-0 on a Marian Hossa power-play tally, Cogliano brought the Ducks within one almost midway through the period before Corey Perry tied the game late in the second stanza. 

Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame) led all players with eight shots on goal as the Ducks outshot Chicago, 62-56, on the night but went 0-for-5 with the man advantage. Anaheim also struck three posts in overtime.

It was the longest game in the Blackhawks’ storied history, and the second longest contest in Ducks’ annals. It was also Anaheim’s first home loss of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs after six victories, and just its second setback overall this NHL postseason. 

Game 3 will be held Thursday night at the United Center in Chicago at 8 p.m. ET.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Killorn, Lightning Tie Eastern Final in Blowout


 
The New York Rangers' 15-game string of one-goal NHL playoff games dating back to last spring is over. So is their one-game lead in this year’s Eastern Conference Final.
 
Tyler Johnson tallied the first hat trick in team history, and Alex Killorn (Harvard) scored two goals and set up another as the Tampa Bay Lightning tied their Stanley Cup Playoff series with a 6-2 win at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
 
Montreal native Killorn, a four-year letterman and a 109-point scorer with the Crimson from 2008 to 2012, set up Johnson’s first goal, a shorthanded marker. He then scored on both of his own shots, both in the third period, the latter on a power play to close out the scoring as the Lightning finished 3-for-6 with the man advantage.
 
Ben Bishop (Maine) made 35 saves as the Lightning took leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 through the first 40 minutes before scoring three unanswered goals in the final frame. The Rangers outshot Tampa Bay, 37-26, on the night. 
 
Chris Kreider (Boston College) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin) lit the lamp for New York, both on the power play, while former Lightning skaters Martin St. Louis (Vermont) and Dan Boyle (Miami) assisted on both goals. The loss also snapped the Rangers' four-game winning streak that dated back to Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Washington Capitals, which New York ultimately won in seven games.
 
Game 3 will played Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa, with Game 4 to follow in Florida on Friday.

Hakstol Leaving UND for NHL



University of North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol is taking the reins of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, according to ESPN.

Hakstol, an Alberta native who went 289-143-43 in 11 seasons in Grand Forks, and led UND to seven NCAA Frozen Fours and four WCHA Tournament titles in that span, accepted the Flyers job Monday after resigning from North Dakota. UND went 29-10-3 this past season, falling to Boston University in an NCAA semifinal matchup in Boston.

A former UND lettermen on defense, Hakstol also played five professional seasons in the International Hockey League, according to his profile at hockeydb.com.His hiring was announced by Flyers general manager and former goaltender Ron Hextall, whose son, Brett, played for Hakstol at UND, and is now in the Flyers' system.

Hakstol, 46, replaces former Philadelphia Flyers player Craig Berube, who was dismissed after two seasons at his old team's helm. Philadelphia finished 33-31-18 this past season, and outside the Stanley Cup playoff picture for the second time in three campaigns.

UND assistant coach Brad Berry was expected to be named head coach of the former Fighting Sioux later on Monday.

U.S. Wins Bronze at World Championships

The United States won its second medal in three years at the IIHF World Championships with a 3-0 victory over the host Czech Republic on Sunday in the bronze medal game.

Connor Hellebucyk (UMass Lowell) made 39 saves for the U.S. against the Czechs, winning his seventh game of the tournament, while Nick Bonino (Boston University) and Charlie Coyle (Boston University) each contributed a goal and an assist to the American effort. 2015 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Jack Eichel (Boston University) also posted an assist, according to USAHockey.com.
 
The U.S. squad was led by head coach Todd Richards (Minnesota) and assistant coach Dan Bylsma (Bowling Green). The two U.S. World Championship medals in three years is a first since 1952, while the Americans’ eight wins in 10 games this spring is their most ever in a single World Championship event. The U.S. also won bronze in 2013 in Sweden/Finland.

Canada won gold this year by defeating Russia, 6-1, in the championship game. The Russians blanked the U.S., 4-0, in the semifinal round. The Americans' only other loss was to Belarus, 5-2, in preliminary round play, although they still finished first in Group 'B'.

The 2016 IIHF Word Championship will be played in Russia.