Blues oust the Blackhawks, Predators push Ducks to Game 7 and more in today’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines.
NHL Playoff Recap
STLTODAY.COM/CHICAGO TRIBUNE: There will be new Stanley Cup champs in 2016, as the St. Louis Blues edged the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the seventh and deciding game of their opening-round series. Troy Brouwer scored the winning goal in the third period and goaltender Brian Elliott made 31 saves to give the Blues the win. The Blackhawks didn’t go down without a fight. Having rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series, they bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to tie this game before Brouwer scored. Brent Seabrook nearly tied the game late when his shot bounced off both goalposts behind Elliott before being swept out of harm’s way by defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues will face the Dallas Stars in the next round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was a thrilling conclusion to what was, in my opinion, the best series of the opening round. It was a well-deserved victory for the Blues, who’ve been saddled with the label of playoff chokers in recent years. It should provide them with a big emotional lift heading into their series with the Stars. As for the Hawks, the depletion of experience depth from their roster due to salary-cap constraints over the past two years finally caught up with them. Barring bold moves by GM Stan Bowman, it’s an issue that could continue hampering them into next season.
YAHOO SPORTS/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: James Neal’s second-period goal proved to be the game winner as the Nashville Predators downed the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in Game 6 of their opening-round series. The victory snapped a three-game losing skid by the Predators, forcing a seventh and deciding game on Wednesday in Anaheim. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne had a strong 26-save performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinne and his teammates struggled in the previous three games. They rose to the occasion to stave off elimination on home ice. They now face their first Game 7 scenario in franchise history.
Notable NHL Headlines
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders open Game One of their second-round series on Wednesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Though the second-round schedule (as of this writing) hasn’t been released yet by the league, the Lightning-Isles series is the only game in that round scheduled for Wednesday, as the Ducks and Predators will be completing their first-round series that evening. I daresay the other second-round series will commence on Thursday and Friday.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Though Pavel Datsyuk claims he’ll make a decision about his future following the upcoming World Championships, the Red Wings aren’t expecting him back next season. It’s believed he’ll return to Russia for family reasons to play out the remainder of his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Datsyuk does go, he’ll leave behind a legacy as one of the greatest players in Wings history, as well as one of the best two-way players the NHL has ever seen.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Don’t expect Ken Holland to lose his job as general manager of the Red Wings. He has the full support of the club’s ownership.
TRIBLIVE.COM: As the Pittsburgh Penguins prepare for their upcoming series against the Washington Capitals, starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury continues to be plagued by concussion symptoms. Though he’s skating in practice with his teammates, there’s still no timetable for his return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, the Penguins have received solid goaltending from backups Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff. However, they’ll be hoping Fleury can return to action at some point in the second round.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn will face a disciplinary hearing for his questionable hit on Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie during Game Six of their opening-round series.
NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins restricted free agent winger Brett Connolly is open to signing a one-year contract extension.
TSN: The Calgary city council has asked the Calgary Flames to consider another location for their proposed new arena.