• PITTSBURGH — Mike Sullivan made a major impact for the Pittsburgh Penguins and some NHL history with his coach’s challenge in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Sullivan made the first coach’s challenge in Final history in the second year the procedure has been allowed. The Penguins coach challenged what looked like the Nashville Predators’ first goal by P.K. Subban 7:13 into the first period on the basis that the play was offside.

    In consultation with the NHL’s situation room, linesman Brian Murphy ruled that Predators winger Filip Forsberg didn’t have possession of the puck and was therefore offside by inches, if not less. Commission Gary Bettman said in his state of the league address prior to the game that the coach’s challenge video review system was working as intended.

    Sullivan is now 2-for-2 in challenging goals in the playoffs. Neither he nor San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer challenged a goal for offside or goaltender interference during the 2016 Final.

    After Subban’s goal was wiped out, the Penguins scored three goals on five shots later in the first period.

    In his bench interview with NBC, Sullivan said his team has a three-way radio setup and that he usually opts to challenge if it’s close. So far five goals have been overturned by coach’s challenges or league-initiated video review in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

    The Penguins held on for a 5-3 victory to take a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 is Wednesday night.

    Tags:

  • OTTAWA, Ontario — Just when the Ottawa Senators look as if they’re done, they find a way to keep going. They’ve plowed through injuries, deficits and blowouts just to keep their season alive another day.

    Facing elimination, they did it once again in beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals, this time wiping out an early deficit to push the Penguins to their second elimination game of the postseason.

    How it happened: A monster shot from forward Mike Hoffman gave the Senators their first lead of the game, ripping a shot just 1 minute, 34 seconds into the third period that beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray.

    The only reason the score was tied at that point was because Senators goalie Craig Anderson turned in his best performance of the series. He made 45 saves, including a number on Sidney Crosby, who had a few good looks that Anderson turned aside. The only goal Anderson gave up was an incredible individual effort from Evgeni Malkin, who grabbed his own rebound and then went to the backhand to beat Anderson. Otherwise, Anderson was perfect, more than making up for the struggles in Game 5 that led to his early exit.

    Power-play breakthrough: It took a two-man advantage, but the Senators finally scored a power-play goal, their first of the series. Bobby Ryan’s quick release on a one-timer beat Murray in the second period and gave the Senators their first power-play goal since Game 1 against the New York Rangers on April 27.

    Controversy: For a few minutes, it looked as if a Penguins defenseman would open the scoring for the third consecutive game when Trevor Daley banged the puck past Anderson following a scramble in front of the net without a whistle. Daley was wrestling in the crease with Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and made contact with Anderson before scoring the goal. Senators coach Guy Boucher wisely challenged, putting the call in the hands of the referee and Toronto video room. It was determined that Daley interfered with Anderson, a borderline call but enough to wipe out an early Penguins lead.

    What’s next: Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals is Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh.

    Tags:

  • The Anaheim Ducks will continue to be without forwards Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves in Game 6 of their Western Conference finals series against the Nashville Predators.

    Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said both players, out because of lower-body injuries, did not travel for Monday’s game.

    Rakell, who also missed Saturday’s loss, had 33 goals and 18 assists in his breakthrough regular season, becoming the first player other than Corey Perry to lead the Ducks in goals since 2010.

    Eaves will miss his 10th consecutive game. He scored a combined 32 goals this season for Dallas and the Ducks. He has been sidelined since April 30.

    The Predators hold a 3-2 advantage in the series.

    Tags: ,

  • OTTAWA — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ defense is going to look different for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

    Defenseman Justin Schultz, who suffered an upper-body injury in Game 2, didn’t practice with the team during the Penguins’ morning skate. Schultz and forwards Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust all skated before practice, but Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan ruled them all out for Game 3.

    Trevor Daley and Mark Streit returned to the lineup Wednesday as the Penguins went with seven defensemen.

    Left wing Viktor Stalberg was back for Ottawa after missing the first two games of the series with a lower-body injury.

    Streit hasn’t played in the postseason this year but has 784 career NHL regular-season games under his belt. Captain Sidney Crosby said that experience would be key.

    “That goes a long way when you’re thrown in different situations,” Crosby said. “He’s played a lot of games, especially in the playoffs here when the stakes are higher. You want someone who is comfortable.”

    Daley’s return should give a boost to the Penguins’ transition game. Players say they’ve missed his strong skating ability and his effectiveness in getting the puck out of the Penguins’ zone, especially with Kris Letang out.

    “Not many guys can skate like him,” Crosby said. “That’s a big part of his game — getting out of our zone, skating us out of trouble. Offensively, he’s able to move around in the offensive zone.”

    Daley last played on May 6, during Game 5 of Round 2 against the Washington Capitals.

    Tags: , ,

  • FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Stars have locked up a goalie with Stanley Cup finals experience in hopes of solving one of their biggest problems.

    Ben Bishop signed a six-year, $29.5 million deal with the Stars, whose announcement Friday came only three days after the team acquired the rights to the 30-year-old goalie from the Los Angeles Kings. Dallas gave up a fourth-round pick in next month’s NHL draft.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    “I’ve been fortunate enough to play a few years in the league, and now it’s about going somewhere you think you have a chance to win and a good city,” said Bishop, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent had Dallas not signed him before July 1. “Dallas has both.”

    The Stars, who last month reintroduced Ken Hitchcock as their coach after firing Lindy Ruff, see Bishop, a two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, as their new starter in net. They had a two-goalie system with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi each of the past two seasons and missed the playoffs this year.

    “Ben is an elite goaltender in this league, and we’re thrilled to be adding him to our mix,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “Ben’s commitment to what we are building in Dallas, and his passion for wanting to be a part of it, was evident during the negotiating process.”

    The 6-foot-7 Bishop was born in Denver, but he graduated from high school in Frisco. That was back when there was only one high school in the suburban area north of downtown Dallas where the Stars’ practice facility is located. At age 18, Bishop played during the 2004-05 season for the Texas Tornado, an NAHL team, in that same building.

    Before missing the playoffs this season with their two 33-year-old goalies from Finland, the Stars had been the top seed in the Western Conference in 2015-16. Lehtonen and Niemi each won 25 games in the regular season before Dallas was ousted in the second round of the playoffs.

    Lehtonen and Niemi are both under contract for next season at a combined $10.4 million. The Stars haven’t revealed their plans for the two.

    Bishop indicated during a conference call with reporters that he looked forward to having Lehtonen, who is set to make $5 million next season, as a goalie partner. He said they have a good relationship after getting to know each other at a goalie camp the past couple of summers.

    “I think we’re both at the stage of our careers where it’s more about winning,” Bishop said.

    Niemi has a $4.5 million salary for next season, and the Stars could buy him out with a salary-cap hit of $1.5 million each of the next two years.

    Bishop played just seven games after the Kings acquired him from Tampa Bay to team up with Jonathan Quick. Since-fired Kings general manager Dean Lombardi engineered the trade to create an elite goaltending duo that would allow the Kings to rest Quick, who was returning from a major injury.

    Los Angeles still failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Bishop went 2-3-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average.

    Bishop spent parts of the past five seasons with the Lightning, reaching the 2015 Stanley Cup finals. He finished second in the Vezina voting in 2016 after getting selected for the All-Star Game. Bishop also has played for Ottawa and St. Louis.

    In 270 career NHL regular-season games, Bishop has a 2.32 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

    Tags:

  • PITTSBURGH — The Penguins will be without veteran defenseman Trevor Daley for Game 6 against the Washington Capitals on Monday because of a lower-body injury, coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Daley didn’t participate in the morning skate. He played only 11:09 in Game 5 against the Capitals, a 4-2 Penguins loss that pulled Washington within 3-2 in the series.

    According to Sullivan, Daley is day-to-day.

    Defensemen Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Streit are the top candidates to replace Daley in the lineup.

    “If Chad Ruhwedel plays tonight, we expect him to bring the game he’s brought for us all year,” Sullivan said. “He’s a mobile guy, he can skate, he can get back to pucks, he helps us get out of our end zone. He defends really well with his stick. We expect him to play his game.”

    The Penguins are already playing without Kris Letang, so they’ve now lost two strong puck-movers from the back end. Ruhwedel played in 34 games this season for the Penguins, registering 10 points.

    Tags: ,

  • NEW YORK — Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are finalists for the NHL’s Hart Trophy.

    The award is given annually to the league’s most valuable player. Crosby is a two-time Hart Trophy winner, having taken the award home in 2008 and 2014. He led the NHL with 44 goals this season while helping the defending Stanley Cup champions post the second-best record in the league.

    Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, Oilers center Connor McDavid and Penguins center Sidney Crosby named the finalists for the Hart Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s MVP. Good trio, close to my top three. My ballot for Hart went like this: 1. McDavid, 2. Erik Karlsson, Senators 3. Crosby. Have to consider McDavid the favorite.

    Bobrovsky led the NHL in both goals against (2.06) and save percentage (.931) as the Blue Jackets enjoyed the best season in franchise history.

    McDavid won the scoring title by posting a league-high 100 points behind 30 goals and 70 assists as the Oilers reached the postseason for the first time in 11 years.

    Tags: , ,