Instant Replay: Hurricanes 2, Flyers 1 (OT)

michaelrafflap.jpg

Instant Replay: Hurricanes 2, Flyers 1 (OT)

BOX SCORE

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina, New Jersey and Edmonton.

Three struggling hockey teams. Not that the Flyers aren’t, either.

If ever there was a week for Craig Berube’s team to claw higher into the Metropolitan Division standings, this is it. There’s six points up for grabs that could go to the Flyers ... with a little scoring luck.

“You definitely have a chance to gain ground,” Berube said before the Flyers' game on Monday night. “You don’t look at it as [Carolina] struggling. This team is gonna play hard. They’re ready to play. They lost five in a row. They’re desperate. You got to make sure you got your game going for 60 minutes.”

Well, two of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL couldn’t score on each other Tuesday night at PNC Arena, although Carolina by far had the better scoring chances.

In the end, the Hurricanes won 2-1 in overtime on a late comeback and a breakaway goal from Manny Malhotra.

Were it not for Flyers goalie Steve Mason, the Hurricanes would have had four to five goals, easy. He continues to give the Flyers a chance to get two points every game.

Mason was temporarily rewarded with Scott Hartnell’s power-play goal at 16:02 of the third period. It was Hartnell’s first point of the season, too, on a tip in front of the net. However, the 1-0 lead didn’t last long.

Nathan Gerbe drew a double minor with a skirmish in front of the Flyers' net involving Mark Streit to set up that power play.

That was quickly erased when Jordan Staal snuck in behind Claude Giroux to tie it up in the final minute of regulation.

Review
Hartnell’s goal went to review for a high-stick but his stick was not above the crossbar.

Shorthanded chance
The Flyers blew a good one in the first period off a brutal Carolina turnover in front of goalie Justin Peters. Two things happened. First, Matt Read couldn’t handle the puck. When he got control of it and dished to Sean Couturier in the right slot, the Flyers’ centerman shot it off the post.

One-timer
Peters made a great glove save on Kimmo Timonen’s one-timer in the slot late in the opening period.

Crazy finish
The second period's final minutes saw Mason absolutely stone Gerbe with a glove-hand save on a power play that quickly turned into a two-man Carolina advantage that carried over 33 seconds into the third period. The Flyers survived it thanks to Mason.

No call
Zac Rinaldo was very upset after taking a shot to the chin from Staal late in the second period that dropped him to the ice without drawing a penalty.

No scoring
Going into the third period, the Flyers had scored just one goal in their previous 203 minutes, 26 seconds. It ended at 219:28 with Hartnell’s goal. Mason had an outstanding shoulder save on Alexander Semin six minutes into the third period. Semin had some good scoring chances in the game.

Giveaways
The Flyers had zero Saturday night in New Jersey. They had five after one period in Carolina.

Scratches
Defensemen Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson; forward Jay Rosehill.

Haunting
The last time the Flyers played the Hurricanes on the road was Oct. 6. The Flyers lost, 2-1. Coach Peter Laviolette was fired the next morning.

Running interference
That’s what referee Steve Kosari did in the first period during a Flyers' power play. He accidentally got in Jakub Voracek’s way and it created a two-on-one, shorthanded rush with Gerbe and Staal. Incredibly, Mason got his blocker on Staal’s shot on what should have been an easy goal.

Loose pucks
Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish were both scouting the game. The Flyers meet Edmonton this weekend in Philly. However, Lowe was also scouting for Team Canada (Sochi Olympics) and eager to see Eric Staal and Giroux going head-to-head for his report back to head coach Mike Babcock and main assistant Ken Hitchcock. … The latest Bovada odds from Las Vegas show the Flyers have fallen from 22/1 to win the Stanley Cup to 66/1. ... PNC Arena was half-empty for the game.

NHL Notes: Penguins, Senators have chance at history in Game 7

NHL Notes: Penguins, Senators have chance at history in Game 7

PITTSBURGH -- Craig Anderson is a realist, the byproduct of 15 years playing the most demanding position in the NHL.

The Ottawa goaltender would like to chalk his 45-save masterpiece in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh up to his own brilliance. He knows that's not exactly the case.

"I think you need to be a little bit lucky to be good at times," Anderson said.

Ottawa has relied on a bit of both during its deepest playoff run in a decade and Anderson helped force Game 7 Thursday night. Yet here the Senators are, alive and still skating with a chance to eliminate the deeper, more experienced and more explosive Stanley Cup champions.

So much for the series being over after the Penguins destroyed Ottawa 7-0 in Game 5.

"I think, if you believe you're beaten, you're done already," Anderson said. "If you believe that you can win, there's always a chance."

All the Senators have to do to reach the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history is take down one of the league's marquee franchises on the road in a building where they were beaten by a touchdown last time out.

No pressure or anything. Really. The Senators weren't supposed to be here. Then again, in a way neither were the Penguins. No team has repeated in nearly two decades and at times during the season and even during the playoffs this group was too beat up. Too tired from last spring's Cup run. The bullseye on their backs too big.

Yet they've survived behind the brilliance of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, coach Mike Sullivan's impeccable decisions and a resiliency that has them one game from being the first Cup champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009.

Those Red Wings, by the way, fell to the Penguins in seven games. There have been several Game 7s for Pittsburgh in the interim on both sides of the ledger, though the Penguins are 2-0 in Game 7s under Sullivan. They edged Tampa Bay in Game 7 of last year's East finals and clinically disposed of Presidents' Trophy winner Washington in Game 7 of the second round earlier this month (see full story).

Predators: Goalie Rinne on smothering run
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Knocking the smile off Pekka Rinne's face right now is nearly impossible.

The longest-tenured player with the Nashville Predators, the 34-year-old goaltender finally will play in his first Stanley Cup Final in his ninth full NHL season.

"As a player, I feel like I've had a fairly long career and never had this opportunity," Rinne said. "So very fortunate and really appreciate this opportunity. I guess as a player you just enjoy being in this position. Enjoy the chance that you get, and you put your body on the line every night and give everything you have."

Teammates call the 6-foot-5 Finn the backbone of the Predators, and he's probably the best goalie in the world at the moment. He handles the puck like an extra defenseman. He foils the dump-and-chase efforts of opponents. And, oh, is he good in front of the net, aggressive with forwards in the crease, seeing seemingly everything and occasionally making saves with a Dominik Hasek-like contortion.

Not only is Rinne a playoff-best 12-4, his .945 save percentage ranks third all-time for a single postseason behind a pair of Conn Smythe Trophy winners in Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Anaheim in 2003 and Jonathan Quick for Los Angeles in 2012, according to HockeyReference.com. Rinne's 1.70 goals-against average is 10th all-time for one postseason.

"What he does every night, you can't put into words," Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said (see full story).

Blues: Sydor returns to Blues as assistant
ST. LOUIS -- Darryl Sydor has returned to the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach under mentor Mike Yeo.

Sydor agreed to a three-year deal Wednesday.

The 45-year-old Sydor finished his 18-year NHL playing career with the Blues in 2009-10, then broke into coaching as Yeo's assistant the next season with the American Hockey League's Houston Aeros. Sydor went with Yeo to Minnesota and spent five years with the Wild before working as an assistant last season with the Blues' then-Chicago affiliate in the AHL.

Sydor was a defenseman for Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, winning Stanley Cup titles with Dallas and Tampa Bay.

Coyotes: Cunningham hired as pro scout
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have hired Craig Cunningham as a pro scout and say he will assist with player development.

General manager John Chayka announced the two-year contract Wednesday that allows Cunningham to remain in hockey.

Cunningham collapsed on the ice with a cardiac disturbance prior to a game Nov. 19 while playing for the American Hockey League's Tucson Roadrunners and required emergency life-saving care. He had part of his left leg amputated and saw his playing career end.

But the 26-year-old who was captain of the Roadrunners last season says he's excited to start the next chapter of his hockey career in the Coyotes' front office. Chayka called Cunningham a "smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game" that he believes will translate to his new job.

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators bounced back nicely two days after a blowout loss put them on the brink of elimination.

Anderson stopped 45 shots, Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 Tuesday night to force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The 36-year-old Anderson was coming off a pair of rough outings, including Sunday when he was pulled after yielding four goals in Ottawa's 7-0 loss in Game 5 at Pittsburgh.

"You can't change what happens in the past," said Anderson, who has credited work with a sports psychologist early in his career for helping him manage the mental side of the game. "From that moment on you have to look forward and get ready for the next one."

Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third. Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa.

It was quite a response after the drubbing in the previous game.

"I think the biggest message for us was if somebody told us back in training camp in September that we'd have an opportunity to win Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final at home in front of our fans we would've taken it," Ryan said. "So let's not dwell, let's not kick ourselves and put our heads down. Let's embrace this opportunity to extend this for two more days together and go from there."

Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves.

"I thought we played a real good game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I thought we dominated zone time. We had lots of chances. We didn't score tonight. The puck didn't go in the net, but if we continue to play the game that way, then I believe we'll get the result."

Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship.

Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start -- which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed.

Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. It was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away.

Anderson then stopped 22 of 23 shots in the second period.

"I think Anderson was the reason that they got this one, he played big for them," Murray said. "But in our room we just focus on what we need to do. We played really well, we just didn't get the bounces and weren't able to put one home."

Anderson's performance was a reminder for Senators coach Guy Boucher of why he took the job with Ottawa in the first place last May.

"I'll be honest with you, if I didn't have a No. 1 goalie, I didn't want the job," Boucher said. "I've lived it for quite a few years, and it's hell when you don't have it because everything you do turns to darkness, and there's nothing that really matters when you don't have a real No. 1 goaltender.

"It's like a quarterback in football and a pitcher in baseball, and we have it," Boucher added.

Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan.

The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge.

Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 lead anyway off a few moments of brilliance from Malkin. The playoff scoring leading (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed up with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson.

It was the 153rd career playoff point in 142 games for Malkin -- three back of Sidney Crosby for second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr -- who had been jarring with Hoffman a few minutes earlier.

The Senators had little going until a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 just past the midway point of the period. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0 for 29 in the previous 10 games, came through with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.

It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).