Friday, May 27, 2016

Sharks to Meet Penguins for Stanley Cup Silver

The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is set.

Bryan Rust (Notre Dame) scored both Pittsburgh goals on Thursday night as the Penguins edged the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, in Game 7 to claim the Eastern Conference. One night earlier, Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) tallied the game-opening goal and Joel Ward (PEI) added two more scores as the host San Jose Sharks eliminated the St. Louis Blues, 5-2, and won the Western Conference in six games.

Game One of the Stanley Cup Final will be held Monday night in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have won three Cups (1991, 1992, 2009) in four all-time Final appearances, and were runners-up in 2008. The Sharks, who came into existence during the Penguins inaugural championship run, are seeking their inaugural NHL title after a quarter-century of play.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Penguins Force Game Seven

Bryan Rust (Notre Dame) and Chris Kunitz (Ferris State) combined on an insurance goal with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, and Nick Bonino (Boston University) tallied an empty-net goal to make it official as the Pittsburgh Penguins survived with a 5-2 win at Tampa Bay on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 7 is set for Thursday night in Pittsburgh (NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET).

Phil Kessel (Minnesota) scored the first goal of the game on a first-period power play for the Penguins, who built a 3-0 advantage after 40 minutes. Brian Boyle (Boston College) scored both Tampa Bay goals in the third period to pull the Lightning to within 3-2, before Kunitz sent Rust in on a successful breakway with 2:08 left to send the now-tied series back to Pennsylvania for a deciding game.

In the Western Conference final, the San Jose Sharks can clinch their first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final with a victory in Game 6 tonight (NBCSN, 9 p.m. ET) over the visiting St. Louis Blues. The Sharks lead the series, three games to two. San Jose captain Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) has three goals in the last two games for San Jose, and has tallied a league-leading 12 goals and 21 points in 17 playoff contests so far this spring.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Blues Alive, Lightning Seek to Clinch

The St. Louis Blues forged a series tie on Saturday night in San Jose. The Tampa Bay Lightning moved to within one game of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Paul Stastny (Denver) had two assists and Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) set up another in the Blues’ 6-3 victory over the Sharks on Saturday as St. Louis knotted the Western Conference final at two games apiece. The six-goal outburst also broke a scoreless string of more than 157 minutes for the Blues. Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) scored the first Sharks’ goal, as San Jose lost for the first time since Game 1. Game 5 will be held on Monday in Missouri.

A shot by Jason Garrison (Minnesota-Duluth) was deflected home just 53 seconds into overtime on Sunday as the Tampa Bay Lightning completed their comeback from a two-goal deficit with a 4-3 win over the Penguins in Pennsylvania. Alex Killorn (Harvard) also scored for the Lightning, who surrendered the first two goals of the game and then fell behind, 3-2, on a goal by Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz (Ferris State). Tampa Bay then knotted matters with 3:16 remaining in regulation before Garrison helped win it. Brian Dumoulin (Boston College) tallied his first career NHL playoff goal in the final second of the first period. Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final is Tuesday in Tampa.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sharks Tie Series in St, Louis

Tommy Wingels (Miami) wristed home a shot from the slot just over two minutes into Game Two of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday night in Missouri. That goal was all the San Jose Sharks needed en route to a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues that tied the best-of-seven NHL Stanley Cup Playoff series at one game apiece.

Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin) picked up an assist as the Sharks connected on two of five power plays at Scottrade Center. The Blues, who got 20 saves from Pavelski's former NCAA teammate, Brian Elliott (Wisconsin), were blanked in six man-advantage attempts despite outshooting San Jose, 26-24, overall. Game 3 is Thursday night in California (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pittsburgh Ties Series with Tampa Bay

Bryan Rust (Notre Dame) and Brian Dumoulin (Boston College) assisted on Sidney Crosby’s game-winning goal 40 seconds into overtime Tuesday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, in Game Two of their Eastern Conference semifinal series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Phil Kessel (Minnesota) scored Pittsburgh’s second goal, assisted by Nick Bonino (Boston University) and Carl Hagelin (Michigan), to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead at the time. J.T. Brown (Minnesota-Duluth) and Matt Carle (Denver) set up Tampa Bay’s second goal in the last minute of the first period, by Jonathan Drouin, that tied the contest. Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay, 41-21, overall on the night at Consol Energy Center, while both teams were blanked in a combined total of three power-play attempts, two by the Pens.

The series is now tied at one win apiece, with Game Three to be played Wednesday night in Tampa (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN). It is not yet known if Lightning No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop (Maine) will return from a lower-body injury suffered in Game One on Friday, a 3-1 Tampa Bay victory.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fairbanks Wins NAHL Title

Brown University commit Gavin Nieto made 31 saves for the shutout as the Fairbanks Ice Dogs won their third Robertson Cup as champions of the North American Hockey League. The Ice Dogs bested the Wichita Falls Wildcats, 2-0, in Edina, Minn. yesterday to win their second Cup in three seasons.

Reggie Lutz tallied the game-winning goal on Sunday, and was named the tournament MVP after scoring five of Fairbanks' seven total goals in three games, including a two-step semifinal sweep of the Aston (Pa.) Rebels. The Ice Dogs, who also finished as this year's NAHL regular-season champion with a 48-9-3 record (101 points), bested the Coulee Region Chill in four games and the Minnesota Wilderness in five outings en route to the semifinals.

Justin Kapelmaster, who is committed to Ferris State, stopped 29 shots for the Wildcats, who were seeking their first NAHL crown, in the championship contest. Fairbanks won its inaugural NAHL title in 2011.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blues Rout Stars in Game 7

David Backes (Minnesota State) and Paul Stastny ( Denver) scored goals, and Brian Elliott (Wisconsin) made 31 saves as the St. Louis Blues advanced to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 6-1 rout of the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night in Game 7 in Texas. The Blues, who will have home-ice advantage throughout the rest of the NHL postseason, advanced to the Western Conference final for the first time in 15 years, and will meet the winner of tonight's seventh game between Nashville and San Jose.

The Blues jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes Wednesday and held on for their second Game 7 victory this spring, having eliminated the defending NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks in a Game 7 in St. Louis last month. Stastny finished with a goal and two assists last night, while Backes, Colton Parayko (Alaska Fairbanks), Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College) and Kevin Shattenkirk (Boston University) all added assists. Patrick Eaves (Boston College) scored the lone goal for Dallas, the top team in the West during the regular season, with an assist going to Alex Goligoski (Minnesota).