Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scores one of his two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their second-round series.
Capitals force Game 7 against Penguins plus updates on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom tallied a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 of their second-round series. The seventh and deciding game will be played on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals dominated the Penguins in this game, breaking up Pittsburgh’s passing game and frustrating their best players. Some believe there’s been a momentum shift since Game 5 of this series, but I believe that shift occurred following captain Sidney Crosby’s concussion in Game 3. While the Penguins won Game 4 in Crosby’s absence, they were outplayed in that game and owed their victory to the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby’s return in Game 5 hasn’t helped. Indeed, he hasn’t looked the same since his injury. His teammates look like they’ve lost the energy they had earlier in this series.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected an assist for his 97th career NHL playoff point, surpassing Mario Lemieux as the club’s all-time playoff points leader. However, that was overshadowed by the loss and a scary incident in which Crosby crashed headfirst into the end boards during the first period. Crosby would continue playing but he and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered up conflicting replies post-game regarding concussion evaluation. Crosby said he was evaluated following the first period but Sullivan said he wasn’t.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s surprising the NHL’s concussion spotters didn’t ask to take a look at Crosby following that incident. The conflicting comments by the Penguins captain and Sullivan could raise more questions over how the club and the league evaluates their players for possible concussion symptoms.
The Penguins also played without defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
EDMONTON SUN/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Oilers fourth-liner and first-unit power-play shooter Mark Letestu has more points than superstar teammate Connor McDavid, sitting seventh among all scorers in this postseason. Meanwhile, Ducks forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw remain questionable for Game 7 tomorrow.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s largely due to Ducks center Ryan Kesler’s close checking of McDavid, but the Ducks seem to have no answer for Letestu, who’s really stepped up his game in his series.
OTTAWA SUN/NEW YORK POST: Long-time Senators enforcer Chris Neil hopes he’ll see some playing time in Game 6 of his club’s series tonight against the New York Rangers. Neil played just over two minutes in Game 5, but his presence provided a boost to his teammates. However, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doubts Neil will have much impact if he plays in Game 6.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares underwent surgery last month on his right hand but is expected to be ready for training camp in September. It’s also believed the Islanders are likely to offer Tavares, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, an eight-year contract extension worth $10 million annually. Meanwhile, sources claim Barclays Center has taken the preliminary step toward a potential opt-out of its 25-year lease with the Islanders.
STLTODAY.COM: The coach of Russia’s national hockey team said St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be joining his club at the World Championships because he’s due to undergo surgery. However, there’s no confirmation about this from Tarasenko or Blues management.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is expected to be sidelined for six months.
COURIER POST’S Dave Isaac reports the Philadelphia Flyers there is interest in bringing back Dean Lombardi, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. No word what his role could be.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Ron Hextall worked with Lombardi as assistant GM with the Kings. I imagine Hextall wants to bring Lombardi in as his right-hand man.
TSN: If the NHL Players Association opts out of the current CBA in 2019 and there isn’t a new CBA in place by 2020, there won’t be a World Cup of Hockey that fall.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Vegas Golden Knights will be able to sign an unprotected restricted free agent as though they’re their own player. No offer sheet required and no compensation for the team.
BSN DENVER: The Colorado Avalanche has parted ways with team doctor Andrew Parker and their medical staff.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens owner and president John David Molson passed away at age 88. He was president of the club from 1964 to 1972, during which the Habs won five Stanley Cups.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Canadiens organization and the Molson family.