Penguins edge Lightning to tie Eastern Conference Final, an update on Steven Stamkos & more in this morning’s collection of notable NHL headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM/TAMPA BAY TIMES: Sidney Crosby scored his first-ever NHL playoff overtime goal to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The victory ties the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. The Pens took a 2-0 lead on early first-period goal by Matt Cullen and Phil Kessel but the Lightning roared back with tallies from Anton Stralman and Jonathan Drouin to tie it before the period’s end. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 38 saves for the Bolts, while Penguins goalie Matt Murray made 19 in a somewhat shaky performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While it’s hard to believe Crosby never scored a playoff overtime goal until this game, Penguins legend Mario Lemieux never scored in postseason OT. Vasilevskiy definitely was the star for the Lightning in this one, as he robbed the Penguins of several quality scoring chances (including a second-period backhander from Crosby) in the second and third periods. As for Murray, the decline in his play over the last four games could increase speculation over Marc-Andre Fleury’s potential return to postseason play.
TSN: A decision is expected soon over when Lightning captain Steven Stamkos can return to action. Stamkos, who is recovering from blood-clot surgery, has resumed skating in practice with his teammates. He’s currently prevented from playing because he’s taking blood thinners as part of his recovery.
THE MERCURY NEWS/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton shrugged off his beard-pulling contest with St. Louis Blues winger David Backes during a scrum in Game 1 of their Western Conference Final on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Blues don’t intend on resting upon their laurels after winning the opening game, saying they believe they have more to give in this series.
THE SCORE: Could Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid become only the fourth teenage captain in NHL history? In a recent interview with TSN, McDavid said that’s a decision best left to his teammates, but admitted he feels ready to take on a larger role with the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think that role should go to Taylor Hall, provided he’s not part of any offseason roster purge.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Center Andrew Shaw was voted this season’s Blackhawks’ Unsung Hero by their fans.
NBC SPORTS: IIHF president Rene Faisal believes the International Olympic Committee’s recent decision not to cover transportation and insurance costs for NHL players adversely affects the possibility of the league’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I saw the league’s decision to resurrect the World Cup of Hockey as the biggest indication it won’t be participating in the 2018 Games. The IOC’s decision only reinforces my belief there won’t be NHL players involved in those games.