Wins for Czech Republic and United States in Hockey World Championship Day 8

Czech Republic and United States both recorded victory on Day 8 of the Hockey World Championships on Friday, as Russia prepare to return to the ice on Saturday.

In Group A, the Czechs maintained their unbeaten record by overcoming Kazakhstan at the Ice Palace, winning 3-1 in the first game of the day.

Tomas Plekanec gave the eventual victors the lead just before the seven-minute mark and struck again in the final period to double his side’s advantage.

Despite Nigel Dawes pulling one back for Kazakhstan, a Robert Kousal effort ensured that the Czechs have now won all five of their fixtures in Russia and sit on top of Group A.

Elsewhere in the group, Denmark made slight amends for their 10-1 thumping at the hands of the competition hosts by beating Latvia 3-2.

The teams were equally matched and scored a goal apiece in the first two periods, with the final 20 minutes drawing a stalemate.

As such, a penalty shot shootout was required, with Nicklas Jensen, who also had opened the scoring in normal time for Denmark, proving his country’s hero.

In Group B, United States appear to be coming into some form after a shaky start to the tournament and made it two wins on the bounce by beating the pool’s bottom side Hungary 5-1.

John Hynes’ men had 37 shots compared to their opponents’ eight, but had to wait until the second period to break the deadlock.

Goals from Nick Foligno, Vince Hinostroza and Dylan Larkin in the second 20 minutes virtually handed victory to the US, while Foligno and Connor Murphy completed the scoring in the final period before a consolation from Istvan Sofron.

The result consolidates United States’ third place in Group B, with the North American side looking destined now to make the quarter-finals.

Friday’s action was rounded up by Germany beating European rivals Belarus 5-2 at Yubileiny.

Marco Sturm’s men came out with a point to prove and duly did by scoring three unanswered goals in the first 20 minutes.

Although Belarus scored the first goal of the second period to keep it interesting, Germany were always in control and cruised to their second win of the tournament.

Saturday’s games see Russia back in action, with the competition hosts on a high and set to face Switzerland, with six fixtures in total on Day 9.

Group A participants Kazakhstan and Latvia will also face-off, while Scandinavian rivals Noway and Sweden will compete.

In Group B, frontrunners Finland and Canada will face France and Slovakia respectively, with the in-form pair looking to maintain their 100 per cent records. Hungary and Belarus will also take to the ice.

Leafs win 2016 NHL Draft Lottery, Matthews their likely target

Toronto Maple Leafs’ rebuilding plans received a boost on Saturday when they won the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery at the CBC building in Toronto.

The Leafs now have the right to the first overall selection in the 2016 Entry Draft, which will take place on June 24 and 25 in Buffalo, New York.

The Winnipeg Jets were drawn as the winners of the second overall pick, with the Columbus Blue Jackets taking the third pick.

Top ranked prospect Auston Matthews is likely to be the Maple Leafs’ selection, while Winnipeg and Columbus will probably each take one of the Finnish prospects ranked second and third, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Maple Leafs’ president Brendan Shanahan refused to confirm who they would pick, but he did praise Matthews’ abilities.

“I’ll just say that our scouts were very pleased with tonight’s results,” he said. “He (Matthews) is definitely somebody that has earned the right to be where he is today.

“I wouldn’t put too much pressure on any one player,” he said. “The more players you can get of a high calibre, obviously that’s a good thing.

“But we also recognize that at this stage whoever’s coming in here is going to be a young person, a rookie, and not going to have the weight of the world thrust on their shoulders.

“This is not going to be a savior. That’s not the way the game is played these days. You need to have a full team.”

With William Nylander, Mitchell Marner and Morgan Rielly amongst many promising players on the Maple Leafs’ books, Matthews would be a notable addition to the ranks.

The 18-year-old, who is set to represent the United States at the upcoming World Championship, played last season in Switzerland scoring 22 goals with 24 assists in 36 games.

Other promising players in this year’s draft class include Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi, a smooth-skating puck mover who starred at the world juniors and Pierre-Luc Dubois, a free-scoring forward who has been likened to James Neal.

Russian defenseman Mikhail Sergachyov will be on the radar of many teams after an impressive season with Windsow Spitfires in the OHL, while Russian U18 team forward German Rubtsov could be seen by the Detroit Red Wings as the natural replacement for the departing Pavel Datsyuk.

2016 NHL Draft Order:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs
  2. Winnipeg Jets
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets
  4. Edmonton Oilers
  5. Vancouver Canucks
  6. Calgary Flames
  7. Arizona Coyotes
  8. Buffalo Sabres
  9. Montreal Canadiens
  10. Colorado Avalanche
  11. New Jersey Devils
  12. Ottawa Senators
  13. Carolina Hurricanes
  14. Boston Bruins

Oshie trio gives Capitals early advantage over the Penguins

T.J. Oshie’s hat-trick goal nine minutes into overtime secured a 4-3 win for the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second round play-off series.

Oshie’s wraparound effort barely crossed the line, but was upheld after a four-minute video review.

“I haven’t won too many championships in my lifetime,” Oshie said. “Maybe through the youth years. That’s kind of the stuff you dream about when you’re a kid playing in the backyard by yourself is scoring the OT winner and getting a hat trick. It was awesome.”

The series between the Capitals and the Penguins has been eagerly anticipated, particularly the meeting of star men Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven years.

Capitals’ boss Barry Trotz believes the opening encounter lived up to the hype.

He said: “It went into overtime. You saw the skill level on both sides. You saw the resiliency on both sides. You saw lots of star power. You saw some great saves. You saw special teams that were pretty strong.

“I think it’s going to build more and more as we go along.”

Highlight of the game for the Penguins was Evgeni Malkin’s stunning backhand goal which briefly gave them a 2-1 lead.

Both Ovechkin and Crosby produced solid performances, with the Russian forward bagging an assist on Oshie’s second goal.

Ovechkin praised Oshie’s impact on the game: “Great effort by Oshie – make his move, go behind the net and put pucks in the net,” he said.

“In overtime, every shot is a good shot. We have plenty of chances in OT. We got one and we move forward.”

Elsewhere, Wednesday’s opening Eastern Conference second round playoff game saw New York Islanders seal a 5-3 victory against Tampa Bay Lightning.

Shane Prince (2), Travis Hamonic, John Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck scored for the Islanders, while Thomas Greiss made 33 saves to guide his team to a 1-0 series lead.

The Western Conference second round series get underway on Friday, with Dallas Stars facing St Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks meeting Nashville Predators.

CSKA clinch historic KHL double

CSKA Moscow claimed their first ever KHL Gagarin Cup after a ?? victory over Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

The seven-game series between the two teams has ebbed and flowed, with CSKA holding a 2-1 advantage after Game 3 before Magnitogorsk turned things around to lead 3-2 by the fifth game.

Last Sunday’s sixth meeting saw CSKA secure a hard fought 3-2 overtime success to set up the deciding match.

CSKA had reached the final in impressive fashion, losing just once in twelve Western Conference play-off games.

They defeated Slovan Bratislava 4-0 in the quarter-final and followed up with a 4-1 semi-final success against Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.

CSKA swept aside reigning champions SKA Saint Petersburgh 4-0 in the conference final to reach the Gagarin Cup Finals for the first time.

Magnitogorsk also enjoyed a comfortable route to the final, overcoming Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg 4-2 in the Eastern Conference quarter-final, before easing past Sibir Novosibirsk 4-1 in the semi-final.

Salavat Yulaev Ufa proved no match in the conference final as Magnitogorsk claimed a 4-1 series victory.

CSKA are the first team to win the KHL double, having already claimed the Kontinental Cup courtesy of finishing the regular season with the best record.

Magnitogorsk’s previous Gagarin Cup success came in 2013/14 when they triumphed 4-3 over Lev Praha.

Ovechkin on target as Caps take 2-0 lead

Alex Ovechkin was amongst the scorers as Washington Capitals defeated Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 to open up a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NHL play-off series.

John Carlson, Jason Chimera, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, while netminder Braden Holtby kept the Flyers at bay with 41 saves.

“They came out hot out of the gates,” Capitals’ forward T. J. Oshie said. “We had a pretty good full 60 minutes there.

“I think our special teams were really good tonight; they had some big plays, a lot of guys sacrificing the body on the penalty kill.

“Holtby, as always, played a really good game. We found a way to win, so hopefully we can take this momentum into Philly.”

Ovechkin now has 37 goals and 71 points in 74 career NHL play-off games.

Elsewhere, the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, are 2-1 down in their series with St Louis after the Blues came from behind in the final period of Game 3 to seal a 3-2 victory.

Colton Parayko, Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz got the goals for the Blues, with goalie Brian Elliott producing 44 saves.

The Blackhawks hadn’t lost in regulation when leading after two periods since May 2014, when Los Angeles won 6-2 at the United Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

The Detroit Red Wings shut-out Tampa Bay Lightning with a 2-0 win to breathe new life into their play-off bid.

Andreas Athanasiou and Henrik Zetterberg scored, while Petr Mrazek made 16 saves to give the Red Wings their first victory after three games.

Red Wings’ boss Jeff Blashill said: “I thought we did a good job from the start of the game tonight all the way through – I thought we played well on both sides of the puck.”

New York Rangers produced the perfect road performance to level the series with Pittsburgh Penguins at one game each.

Keith Yandle, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider were all on the scoresheet, with netminder Henrik Lundqvist adding a solid 29-save performance.

Rangers out-hit the Penguins 57-25 and Lundqvist believes their added physicality was a key factor on the night.

“I think when you go into the play-offs, you’re not going to play the team one time,” Lundqvist said.

“You have to earn it many times. It’s so important that you play a physical game and make it hard, especially on their top guys. It should not be easy for them to create anything.”

Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators lead 2-0 in their respective series against Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, while New York Islanders are 2-1 up against Florida Panthers.

Ovechkin moves up NHL all-time scorers list with hat-trick

Alex Ovechkin hit the 14th hat-trick of his NHL career against Minnesota Wild on Thursday to move ahead of Montreal Canadiens’ legend Jean Beliveau on the league’s all-time goals chart.

Ovechkin’s second period trio for the Washington Capitals came in under 13 minutes to give him 509 NHL goals and 39th place on the list.

“My parents actually called me, probably a couple weeks ago, and said, ‘It’s time for you to get a hat-trick,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a good feeling. Obviously, when you get the second one it’s pretty cool, but when you have three goals in one game, it’s kind of special.”

Capitals went on to claim a 4-3 victory to move to 40-9-4 for the season, while Ovechkin now tops this season’s goals chart with 34 – one ahead of Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Patrick Kane.

The Russian opened the scoring two minutes into the middle period. Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk almost kept out Ovechkin’s shot, but the puck crept through his five-hole and trickled across the line.

“The first one was kind of a lucky goal – it hit my shaft and goes right between his legs,” Ovechkin said. “I was kind of surprised, but a goal’s a goal so I’ll take it.”

His second came three minutes later when he followed up a rebound off the boards from a John Carlson shot to coolly finish, while his third in the 14th minute of the period hit the post and Dubnyk before finding its way in.

“Somehow he knows how to get the puck to the net – it’s not always a highlight goal,” said Capitals’ forward Nicklas Backstrom.

“It’s incredible. The puck just comes to him, but he has that ability when it comes to put it in the net. It’s hard to do.”

“It’s how fast he gets it off and he can place it,” added Capitals’ boss Barry Trotz. “A lot of times in those close areas you’ve got to elevate the puck, and he’s got the ability to elevate it in real tight areas. It’s hard for goaltenders to read it off the stick. He’s really good.”

Ovechkin will now look to overtake Gilbert Perreault in the all-time list. The Canadian forwards scored 512 goals for Buffalo Sabres between 1970-87.

Wayne Gretzky is the NHL all-time leading scorer with 894 goals.

Kane extends points streak to 24 games but Gretzky’s record is still far away

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane took his points streak to 24 games, but not everyone was happy about it.

With Chicago 3-0 down going into the third period against Nashville Predators they needed someone to ignite some offensive. Kane, as is so often the case, delivered.

Blackhawks dumped a puck deep towards Predators netminder Pekka Rinne early in the final session. He appeared to cover up the puck with his glove, but no whistle was blown so play carried on.

Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger charged at Rinne from the right and dislodged the puck in the crease as he made contact with the goaltender. Kane picked up the rebound and slotted it home for his 16th goal and 24th consecutive game with a point.

The Predators challenged the play for interference with the Bridgestone Arena crowd heckling the officials for the lack of a whistle after the initial shot on Rinne.

The goal was ruled good so Kane extended the records for the franchise and American-born NHL players to 24 games.

Rinne strongly disputed the decision, having numerous conversations with officials during breaks in the action. The Predators went on to win 5-1, but Rinne still wasn’t happy after the game.

He said: “I guess it was loose, but for sure, he didn’t make the contact with the puck. He tried to push me in the net.”

Kane will look to extend the record to 25 games on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets. That would tie Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (2010-11) for the longest streak this century, but would still leave him some way short of the all-time League record set by Wayne Gretzky in 1983-84 at 51 games with the Edmonton Oilers.

Gretzky believes Kane can break his record: “He can get there, absolutely,” he said. “What does it take to get there? It’s a combination of things. First of all, you have to be good and you have to get a little bit lucky.

“I was a little bit lucky during the streak, whether it was a (secondary) assist late in the game or an empty-net point. You have to stay healthy and you have to be surrounded by really good teammates. He has all the intangibles he needs.”

Gretzky also spoke about the team’s importance in making individual records happen – especially when it comes to maintaining a streak over such a large number of games.

“Even though it’s an individual record it becomes a team-oriented record when the players start thinking about it and trying to be part of it. There are going to be scenarios and situations probably when Kane might not have been on the ice in the past and Joel Quenneville is going to give him that opportunity as Glen Sather gave to me. You have to run with it and so far he has.”

“Records are made to be broken. I’m going to watch him and if he breaks the record I’ll be the first guy to shake his hand.”