Game 6: It's JAM Time

Game 6: It's JAM Time

After dropping a laughably poor effort followed a tightly fought battle, the Flyers have let the Penguins back into a series they had the opportunity to sweep. The Pens who slumped through the early games are wide awake now, including Marc-Andre Fleury, who went from historically bad to being a major factor in Pittsburgh's rebound. 
Two more chances to close out the series, but I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone in the good half of the state when I say we don't want to see a game 7. Not that the Flyers can't win it—they might even be better with elimination on the line—but if they lose today, they may not have much edge left either. 
They need to play like today is game 7. 
The teams will skate the same lineups today as game 5. No Nick Grossmann. But being without him in game 5 might have contributed to the Flyers slowing the pace down a bit, as they did in some of the March stretch that saw them winning despite being shorthanded on the blue line. 
It also meant increased minutes for the Flyers' top three defensemen, and fatigue could be  a factor as today's game wears on. 
Playing conservatively isn't necessarily an answer to the Penguins' attack. It's certainly not how they won games 1-3. It's gonna take some JAM. 
Time to stay out of the penalty box… 
Time for Ilya Bryzgalov to show up too. MAF's made a new mark on the series, and despite being slowed by a pair of injuries, Bryz is still the same goalie who went on a tear in March. He seemed pissed after the game 5 loss, which could be a good thing because he needed some swagger back. Forget March. Bryz was the better goalie the first three games of this series. 
Time for HartnellUp and the Wayne Train. Scott Hartnell got off the schneid in game 5, and the Flyers could use some more of that, along with some more JAM from fellow power forward Wayne Simmonds. 
Time for the refs keep the whistles quiet on ticky-tack shit and let the boys play today. If it's egregious, call it. Don't let it get out of hand. But leave the questionable minors out of a game between two tough but talented teams. No matter what the refs do, it's gonna be rough out there, and the Flyers can't let the Pens gain an edge on cheapshots, but they can't get suckered into retaliating and losing the special teams battle. It really could be the biggest factor in the series. 
Time for Marc-Andre Fleury's luck to run out. No, he isn't winning purely on luck, but he owes his posts a steak dinner, and one goal on a bad bounce or deflection could be the difference in who wins this series. 
Time for the refs to see what Evgeni Malkin is (besides strong on the puck and dangerous if given space). 
Time to win the even strength battle. 
Time for Riemer to save his lost season with a huge goal. 
Time for Jaromir Jagr to brandish the dagger. 
Time for Max Talbot to make goal-scoring jokes to Dan Bylsma. 
Time for Brayden Schenn to do what Mike Richards couldn't. 
Time for Sean Couturier to lock Malkin in a two-dimensional prism and hurl him through infinite space. 
Time for Matt Read to make the Calder vote look even more absurd. 
Time to block some shots. 
Time to Lappy up. 
Time for Claude Giroux to take the series back. Youth has served this team well, but they need a closer right now. They need a captain, and it's G. 
Time to giddy up and fuckin go. 
Puck drops at noon on NBC… 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).