For the Montreal Canadiens, Brendan Gallagher is rounding into form at just the right time

He is a player who must be defended and that in turn provides more favourable match-ups for other lines.Gallagher’s secret sauce is his powerful lower body and his sharp edgework, which allows him to pivot quickly and squirt through openings along the boards against bigger players.Byron said it’s to the point where he often thinks he shouldn’t bother going in to support Gallagher on board battles where he is outnumbered – such is his knack for emerging with the puck.“He’s a weapon for our team,” he said, later adding “and he’s back to his old self. It’s good to see.” Gallagher.“He does that all year to all the teams, that’s nothing new,” chuckled Habs defenceman Shea Weber.True, except the Eastern Conference quarterfinal is only seven periods old.There he was in the first period of game two, getting his lid punched off his head by Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh.A little later, after an off-side play where he continued trucking into the heart of the New York defence, he did a little juggle with the puck prompting McDonagh to swat it away and take a chop at his ankles for good measure.His reaction: a smile.In the second there Gallagher was again, getting picked up like he was a sack of pig feed by Brady Skjei (a penalty ensued) and in the third having his helmet wrestled off by McDonagh as he stood petulantly in goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s blue paint.“He drives everybody mental,” said linemate Paul Byron, “that’s his game, he’s really good at it.”Well, it helps that he can also play a little.Indeed, a strong argument can be made that Gallagher was the Habs’ best forward in the 4-3 overtime win that tied the series up at 1-1, before the teams head to Madison Square Garden for Sunday’s game three.Early in the game he made a sweet little touch pass to spring Byron on a breakaway (Lundqvist ultimately made the stop).Shortly after, his net drive resulted in Lundqvist breaking his stick; within 30 seconds the Habs were up 1-0 as Jeff Petry fired a puck past the stick-less goalie.Then he carried the puck into the New York end, wrong-footing defenceman Marc Staal with a little shimmy before chipping the puck behind the net for himself.There, he held the much larger Staal off – Gallagher is generously listed at five-foot-nine, 180 pounds – and feathered a perfect pass to Byron for a goal.It was the kind of performance the Habs have come to expect from Gallagher, who couldn’t find his game with a GPS and an orienteering course for much of the season.Some of that is down to his increasingly mangled left hand, which has been broken in successive seasons by slap-shots, most recently Weber’s.It has affected his grip and his shot, but after a middling season statistically in which he still generated more scoring chances than almost anyone on the team, Gallagher has rounded into form over the past month and benefited from better luck around the net.His reemergence as an offensive factor is a crucial development for the Habs; a productive Gallagher shifts the offensive balance. Probably because he is unusually relentless, even by NHL standards, and is permanently flashing what teammate Carey Price has called “that stupid grin.”

It’s probably safe to say the New York Rangers have had just about enough of young Mr. There is no official NHL statistic for getting your bucket knocked off after the whistle, but if there was the runaway league leader would be a certain Brendan Gallagher, late of Montreal, Quebec.Hockey has its share of pests and rodents, but the dimunitive Montreal Canadiens winger inspires a special kind of animus.

Blue Jays end seven game skid as Morales hits walkoff home run to top Orioles

Pillar was left stranded when Troy Tulowitzki popped up.Both starters settled into a rhythm after the opening frame.The Orioles threatened in the seventh inning when Schoop hit a one-out double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Kendrys Morales hit a walkoff solo homer as the Toronto Blue Jays ended a seven-game losing skid with a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.Morales turned on the first pitch from Tyler Wilson (1-1) in the bottom of the ninth for a no-doubt shot over the wall in right-centre field. … Estrada gave up a leadoff double to Seth Smith but later escaped by fanning Mark Trumbo.The slumping Toronto offence used some small ball to try to kickstart a rally against right-hander Alec Asher (0-1).Kevin Pillar led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ezequiel Carrera and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Joe Biagini worked a scoreless eighth before the Orioles scratched out a run off Osuna in the ninth.Osuna gave up a leadoff infield single to Welington Castillo. The blast made a winner of closer Roberto Osuna (1-0), who gave up the tying run in the top half of the frame.Jose Bautista scored the other Toronto run in the seventh inning when he came across on a single by pinch-hitter Darwin Barney.Toronto starter Marco Estrada threw seven shutout innings of four-hit ball. … … Happ (0-2, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays in the series finale Sunday against right-hander Dylan Bundy (1-1, 2.70). Barney then replaced recent callup Chris Coghlan and drove in the game’s first run.Both teams had six hits and announced attendance was 40,743.Notes: The game took two hours 39 minutes to play. All players wore No. Adam Jones flew out to strand runners on the corners.Asher kept the Blue Jays in check on three hits before exiting with one out in the bottom half of the frame. 42 jerseys for Jackie Robinson Day. Pinch-runner Craig Gentry stole second, moved to third on a fly out by Hyun Soo Kim and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Schoop.Both teams threatened in the first inning but couldn’t push a run across. Toronto will wrap its nine-game homestand with a three-game series starting Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox. He made the start at third base and went 0 for 2 at the plate. Left-hander J.A. He hit Bautista with a pitch to lead off and the Toronto slugger moved to second base on a Tulowitzki single.Left-hander Donny Hart came on and got Justin Smoak to fly out to the warning track. … It was his second homer of the season. Coghlan had his contract selected from triple-A Buffalo on Friday.

Ottawa Senators’ comeback win against Bruins gives them confidence boost heading to Boston

We find a way to fight back down two, tie it up and overtime. “We choose to see it as a builder.” Ex-Calgary Flame and ex-Toronto Maple Leaf Dion Phaneuf scored the winner, his low shot from the point beating screened Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask to the right side to end the affair at the one minute 59 second mark of the first extra period.With the win, the Senators have knotted the best-of-seven game National Hockey League Eastern Conference quarterfinal at one game apiece, with hostilities set to resume in Boston for the next two games, beginning with Game 3 on Monday night.“That’s the biggest one I’ve scored,” said the 32-year-old Phaneuf, losing a battle afterward in the Senators locker to try to keep a big grin from forming on his face.As his teammates mobbed Phaneuf along the boards near centre ice following his dramatic goal, pandemonium also prevailed in the stands as over 18,000 jubilant fans at the Canadian Tire Centre celebrated an outcome that seemed farfetched just a bit earlier.After a scoreless opening period, the Bruins scored three times in the second period to take a 3-1 lead into the third, and the Senators knew they had their work cut out for them if they wanted to avoid heading back to Boston trailing 2-0 in a series.It was the exact opposite scenario on Wednesday in the first game of the playoff where it was the Senators who ran roughshod over Boston for most of the first two periods, only to cough up two goals in the third that allowed the Bruins to sneak off with a 2-1 win.It was an emotional night all-around for the Senators.The first Ottawa goal was potted by Clarke MacArthur on the power play midway through the second period, and it tied the score at 1-1 after Drew Stafford had scored earlier for the Bruins.It was an emotional moment for MacArthur as he has missed the most of the last two seasons battling back from a series of concussions. It’s just a great feeling.”Boucher was asked what was said between the second and third periods that bolstered the resolve of his players. “And we found a way and it feels real good because they’ve got a real good team over there. He spoke about the resiliency and soul the Senators have faced all season battling through injuries to make the postseason.“Adversity builds you or destroys you,” Boucher said. The goal was his first since April 19, 2015.“I was excited,” MacArthur said of the moment. “I’m not crying this time, just happy, really happy to get one there.“For us to fight back like we did in the third, we’re not quitting this series. It was sort of like Wednesday’s game, only in reverse.And while it was not exactly the blueprint for victory the Ottawa Senators had in mind, their 4-3 comeback overtime win over the Boston Bruins here on Saturday provided them with a hefty confidence boost as the playoff series starts to churn to life. He said he got goosebumps when MacArthur snapped the puck from the slot in behind Rask.“When he raised his arms I think the whole city did at the same time and I think it was very special,” Boucher said.The Senators listed badly after that as the Bruins pressed, breaking through with a shorthanded effort by Tim Schaller after Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson got caught way out of his net trying to clear the puck.It was gobbled up behind the net by Riley Nash who shovelled it out in front where Schaller was able to fire it home to make the score 2-1.A bit later, Patrice Bergeron got just enough of his stick on a slapper by teammate David Pastrnak to redirect the puck in behind Anderson while Boston was on the power play – and the Bruins were suddenly up two.But the Senators charged into the third period, confident in their abilities to battle back, and a seeing-eye wrist shot by Chris Wideman from the blueline, through a traffic jam in front, cut the Boston lead to 3-2 at the 5:28 mark.Then came the equalizer by Derick Brassard on a beautiful setup from Erik Karlsson, who circled the top of the zone before feeding a cross-ice pass that Brassard one-timed into a gaping net.“We just continued to do what we’ve done all year, and that’s stick to it, stick to it,” Phaneuf said. No matter what happens we’re going to go right to the end and see what happens.”Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said to see MacArthur score after the struggles he has been though was one of the highlights of his coaching career.

Raptors embarrassed in playoff opener – again

I have to make the adjustments and figure it out. They shot just 36 per cent on the night.“Our second half was just abysmal,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. The Toronto Raptors were confounded and embarrassed in their playoff opener yet again, and none of them could explain why it keeps happening.For a fourth straight year, the Raptors lost their opening game of the postseason at home, deflating the fervent playoff crowd both inside and outside the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors simply never jumped on that opportunity. If I had the answer, maybe we could have pulled it out tonight,” said a puzzled DeMar DeRozan after the game. Things unravelled.Other Bucks soldiered on without the Greek Freak in the game. Jonas Valanciunas had nine points and nine rebounds.They were outplayed by superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and his team-leading 28 points, but five others on the sixth-seeded Bucks also scored in double digits. The Air Canada was unmistakably decked for the playoff season. Rookie point guard Malcolm Brogdon tallied 16 points in his playoff debut.The Raps came into the game winners of three of their four meetings with Milwaukee this year. Why does this team – favoured in each of those opening series – keep laying an egg on postseason opening days?“I have no clue. This time it was a 97-83 beating at the hands of the young Milwaukee Bucks, which stretched the Raps’ inexplicable all-time record in playoff openers to 0-9. Fans were cloaked in red and black playoff t-shirts, distributed throughout the stadium in a lumberjack checked pattern. “We didn’t play with any pace, any rhythm, any movement.”With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, and their team being confounded and trailing 93-76, thousands of Toronto fans headed for the exits. “I thought our guys did a great job of sharing the ball, the ball wasn’t sticking and they didn’t care who shot it or who made the shot, it was about making the right play. Instead of battling for the win in the dying minutes, the team was shuffling in its reserves in blowout garbage time.“I’ve got to dig myself out of a hole and perform,” said Lowry. But it’s on us. We don’t have no excuse.”DeRozan led third-seeded Toronto with 27 points, and Serge Ibaka had 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Kyle Lowry made only two of 11 field-goal attempts, missing all six 3-point efforts, and finished with four points. I thought the guys did a great job offensively; make or miss there was multiple touches and plays made. Toronto kept missing shots and failed to get back and defend in transition. The rowdy Toronto faithful welcomed Bucks coach Jason Kidd with a healthy boo – a familiar foe who had beaten the Raptors in the postseason twice before; first as a player, then as a coach.The Raptors kept it close in the first half. The Bucks were trapping DeRozan, but he still managed to get eight points in the first quarter while Ibaka (appearing in his 90th playoff game but first for the Raptors) tallied 10. Toronto tried various defenders on him from DeMarre Carroll to P.J. Brogdon knocked down threes, while Monroe, Tony Snell, Thon Maker and former Cavalier Matthew Dellavedova also shared in the scoring, pulling Milwaukee ahead 75-70 going into the final quarter.Antetokounmpo returned in the fourth quarter, but Khris Middleton was scoring, too, while Monroe continued to absolutely rule the boards, finishing the night with 15 rebounds and 14 points. I have to dig myself out somehow, some way.”Game 2 takes place Tuesday in Toronto, before the series shifts to Milwaukee on Thursday and Saturday. “It happens. “But it’s something we’re not unfamiliar with, being at this point. That’s the way you have to play this time of year if you want to win.”The Raptors, unfathomably, mustered a mere 32 points in the entire second half. Antetokounmpo was hot – scoring in multiple ways from flashy dunks to jump shots to luring Raptors to foul him. It’s never ideal but we’ve got to bounce back and understand we make it harder on ourselves to come back and fight back even harder. The Bucks were shooting 52 per cent from the field and lead 30-22 by the end of the quarter.Valanciunas came out hot in the second quarter, and in a furious couple of minutes made a cutting layup, a driving hook shot, drew a foul and nabbed three rebounds. His teammates added a couple of threes and an 11-4 run had the Raps back in it. Tucker to Patrick Patterson.Greg Monroe made trouble in the paint, and Milwaukee was sharing the ball. For a dreadful nine-minute stretch, the Raptors failed to score a field goal while the Bucks built an 85-71 lead.“Giannis is a special player and he can cause a problem by getting two or three guys on him,” said Kidd. The Raptors outscored the Bucks 30-16 in the quarter and took a 51-46 lead into the half.Early in the second half, Antetokounmpo picked up his fourth foul and Kidd was forced to pull his star off the floor.

Predators’ prey: Nashville mauls Chicago Blackhawks 5-0, take 2-0 series lead

The Blackhawks went 0 for 2 on the power play. Ryan Ellis, Harry Zolnierczyk, Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala each scored their first career playoff goals.Game 3 is Monday night in Nashville.Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lineup, inserting rookie Vinnie Hinostroza and Dennis Rasmussen and benching veteran Jordin Tootoo and John Hayden. The Blackhawks nearly got on the board about 30 seconds later, but captain Jonathan Toews shot it off the right post.Sissons knocked in his own rebound with 7 minutes left. It has dropped six in a row dating to the end of the regular season.The sellout crowd of 22,175 booed as the final seconds of the second period ticked off, and there were more jeers in the third.The Blackhawks, who finished with a Western Conference-best 109 points this year, took the last four of their five meetings with the Predators during the regular season. Pekka Rinne made 30 saves in his second consecutive shutout and picked up two assists, helping the Nashville Predators pound the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Saturday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.Ryan Johansen had a goal and two assists as Nashville added a dominant performance to its taut 1-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday night. … Ellis’s shot from the high slot was blocked by a sliding Panik, but the defenceman tried again and drove it by Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead at 3:44.Viktor Arvidsson, who scored the only goal in Game 1, provided a perfect screen on the play, with Ellis’s shot going between his legs on the way to the net.The Predators added two more in the second.Rinne picked up a secondary assist when Mattias Ekholm found Zolnierczyk with a great stretch pass, and the forward shot it off Crawford’s left shoulder for a 2-0 lead at 2:51. They also controlled much of Game 1, outshooting the Predators 29-20, albeit with many of the attempts coming from outside.But this one was all Nashville, right from the start.After Richard Panik had a shot go off a post in the opening minute, the Predators began to take over. Louis. It was Sissons’s first point since he scored two goals against San Jose on March 25.NOTES: Predators F Colin Wilson was scratched with a lower-body injury. Wilson had 12 goals and 23 assists this season. But it was more of the same for the Blackhawks, who once again looked out of sync against the Predators’ active defence.Chicago was shut out in consecutive playoff games for the first time since it was blanked in three straight in April, 2002, against St.

Fourth line comes up big as Maple Leafs even series with double-overtime win over Capitals

I got to put it in an empty net.”The trouble with playoff hockey is that for every good thing that happens, such as the inexperienced Leafs’ resiliency and heart in giving a deep, experienced and talented Capitals team everything it can handle, something bad is bound to happen.For the Leafs, the really, really bad thing happened at 13:55 of the second period when defenceman Roman Polak took a hard, clean hit from Washington defenceman Brooks Orpik. Forty-eight hours earlier, the Capitals won the first game of the series with an overtime winner from their fourth line. If you are on the Toronto side of the equation, the outcome of Saturday’s second game of the Maple Leafs’ first-round series was not only poetic justice, it was a metaphor for playoff hockey.When Brian Boyle made his seeing-eye backhand pass from behind the net to rookie Kasperi Kapanen for a quick shot to the open side of the Washington Capitals’ net at 11:53 of the second overtime period for a 4-3 Leafs win, it marked a major contribution from the fourth line. His calmness is felt by all his teammates. We’ll get used to it.” For example, after the Leafs took a 1-0 lead on James van Riemsdyk’s goal late in the first period, Zach Hyman forgot to stick with Ovechkin on a second-period power play, allowing the Caps superstar to come down from the point and rip a shot past Andersen.Then the same thing happened on another Washington power play, with defenceman John Carlson left unwatched at the other point, and he gave the Caps a 2-1 lead. I was yelling for [the puck]. He’s been outstanding night in and night out. Boyler made an amazing pass. It is the grinders who have to produce the big goals because everyone is so conscious about checking the stars to a standstill. Connor Carrick was only used sparingly after the injury, finishing with just under 19 minutes of ice time.The game was the same as a lot of games the Leafs have played this year, wildly entertaining, often for the mistakes as much as the offensive creativity. But this time there was no whiff with his glove, just a smooth, 47-save performance.“He was outstanding in Game 1 and obviously he was no slouch tonight,” Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. They both played more than 40 minutes by the end of Saturday’s marathon, with Matt Hunwick clocking in at 35:19 and Marincin at 30:41. After being helped to the dressing room, Polak never returned to the game.Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said after the game that Polak is finished for the season. Nevertheless, there were still lots of moments in Saturday’s game when stars like Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom shone, as it was a heart-stopping display of hockey at its best – fire wagon at times with both teams trading chances and bone bending at other times as the Capitals came out hitting much harder than they did in Game 1.But somehow these precocious Maple Leafs, with nine players making their NHL playoff debuts, kept bending and then snapping back. Babcock said he had no idea if Zaitsev will be ready and if he isn’t, Alexey Marchenko will dress. He’s in the mould of the Leafs’ other star rookies, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, a speedy, shifty sort with silky hands. When we’re out there playing and we know he’s behind us it gives us that much more confidence.”While Boyle, who has been excellent in the faceoff circle and in the tough areas around the net in both games, is the quintessential grinder, Kapanen is not. That is often how it is in the NHL playoffs. He corkscrewed to the ice on his right leg and immediately clutched his right ankle and lay on the ice writing in pain. With Nikita Zaitsev already out with undisclosed injury and the Leafs trying to get by with the little-used Martin Marincin, who played much better Saturday than he did in Thursday’s opener, this was the worst sort of news.Zaitsev resumed skating on Saturday and there is a chance he can play in Game 3 on Monday night. But the Leafs bounced back with Kapanen’s first goal and then Rielly put them ahead with a power-play goal. This now sets us up to go home, we’re going to get better and better in the series, obviously, as our confidence grows. But most of the ice time will go to Rielly and Jake Gardiner. The Caps’ stars popped up again in the third period when Backstrom capped an epic shift with Ovechkin, keeping the Leafs on the run in their own end, by forcing overtime with his first goal of the playoffs.“Obviously, it’s a big win for our team,” Babcock said. A late-season call-up and addition to the fourth line, he scored his first NHL playoff goal late in the second period to tie the score 2-2 and made his second part of Leafs’ history.“All the credit has to go to [left winger Matt Martin] and [Boyle] for working hard in the corner,” Kapanen said of his winning goal. Now they have the series in their own arena for the next two games with it tied 1-1.Once again, Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen was superb. “He’s been the backbone of this team all year. “You go down two and then you’ve got to win four out of five. Polak was spun around and his right skate was caught in a rut on the ice. “I think one of their D-men lost his stick.

Flames burned by Ducks yet again, trail series by two games

They’ve lost blowouts and heartbreakers in that time, with Saturday’s loss falling squarely into the latter category.The win gives the Ducks a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Pacific Division semi-final playoff series.The Flames haven’t won a game here since rookie Matthew Tkachuk was playing peewee hockey in St. Brandon Montour was playing his second NHL playoff game, Josh Manson his third and Shea Theodore just his eighth.So it is a raw, unproven group that generally speaking acquitted itself pretty well. It forced them to put Korbinian Holzer in for his first-ever NHL playoff appearance. Louis. This time, goals by Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell in the first 6:44 of play gave Anaheim a quick 2-0 lead.A pivotal shorthanded goal by Mikael Backlund while killing a double high-sticking minor to Tkachuk was critical in switching the momentum to Calgary for a time. Getzlaf was stationed at the right point, when his cross-ice pass through the seam deflected off Lance Bouma’s skate, changed directions by almost 90 degrees and deflected in past goaltender Brian Elliott. The Flames keep waiting for the law of averages to catch up with the Ducks, but it just refuses to happen.Anaheim survived a second period in which they were outshot 15-6 and badly outplayed to sneak out yet another victory over the visiting Flames. Clearly, I think people at home who watched a great game could see that when get a defenceman [Hamilton] skating forward and a forward that interferes with him a little, there’s going to be an exchange sometime there."Over all, it was a spirited affair, the bad blood running through the final two games of the regular season spilling into this one. It was so long ago, the Ducks were still nicknamed “Mighty” (after their original Disney corporate masters) and the building was known as the Arrowhead (aka Duck) Pond, not the Honda Center.The series now shifts to Calgary, for Game 3 Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, where the victories are a little easier for the Flames to come by.But this one will be a hard pill to swallow.The Flames hav nothing to show for two fairly competitive outings, both of which started out in similar fashion, with them falling behind early. On a night when the Flames carried the play for most of the night, the Ducks got a fluky power-play goal from Ryan Getzlaf with 4:46 to go in regulation to secure the victory. Cam Fowler, their top man, is out and Sami Vatanan, a reliable top-four player, was an 11th hour scratch, with an undisclosed injury. Referees Wes McCauley and Brian Pochmara, who were working the game, informed the situation room that the call on the ice was that Gibson had been interfered with before the puck crossed the goal line, which is not a reviewable play. As a result, the call on the ice stood – no goal Calgary.Flames’ defenceman Dougie Hamilton was in the penalty box for holding Corey Perry’s stick when Getzlaf scored the winning goal, after taking three additional minors in the opening night loss as well.Flames coach Glen Gulutzan was unhappy with the officiating, saying in his mind "the standard changed in the last six minutes. The NHL’s situation room in Toronto initiated a video review to further examine if the puck crossed the Anaheim goal line before the net became displaced. A pair of adversaries from a playoff series two years ago – Calgary’s Micheal Ferland, Anaheim’s Kevin Bieksa, who was playing for the Vancouver Canucks back then – renewed their acquaintances, dropping the mitts.Bieksa had previously taken a pair of minor penalties; the Ducks are a team quickly running out of defencemen. Calgary last won here exactly 4,008 days ago – April 25, 2006 – but the jinx of all jinxes just keeps on going and going. Backlund skated down a chip pass from Michal Frolik and scored on a breakaway against Ducks’ goaltender John Gibson, stopping the bleeding at a critical juncture in the game. The Flames killed off the rest of the penalty to Tkachuk and managed to carry the momentum for most of the second period.After a rocky start, Elliott settled down and kept the game within reach. It has been a relatively quiet series thus far for the Flames’ leading scorer, Johnny Gaudreau, but he completed a lightning quick three-way passing play that put the puck on Sean Monahan’s stick for a one-timer from the high slot 7:01 into the second period, tying the game at two goals apiece.At 2-2 midway through the second period, the Flames had a second-period goal by Alex Chiasson disallowed for goaltender interference. It was the kind of night that makes you believe maybe curses really do exist in professional sport.Nothing ever seems to go right for the Calgary Flames in Anaheim, and it was that way again Saturday night, where the Flames lost a game they probably deserved to win, 3-2 at the hands of the hometown Ducks.

A new hope: Maple Leafs look to build on experience, take series lead

Their [defence] got extended pretty hard [Saturday] night in a lot of areas. “We need to sort of pound the rock, if you will, and see if we can wear people down. “We want to be here for real and play as good as we can. Roman Polak is not going to play again this season after suffering a gruesome injury to his right leg in the second period on Saturday.Leafs head coach Mike Babcock essentially went with four defencemen after that, with Rielly and Gardiner both logging more than 40 minutes of ice time. No one is doing that more than defenceman Morgan Rielly, 23, who played better in the first two games of this series than he did in most nights in the regular season. The Leafs were a bunch of rookies and guys a little bit older, but still kids, and sure, they could play, but when the heavy playoff hockey started, well, thanks for coming out fellows but your education will continue in the fall. Babcock not worried about Leafs’ stamina after overtime games (The Canadian Press)

Only now, after two wacky, cartoonish roller-coaster rides where one minute the Leafs are barely hanging on and the next they are the Katzenjammer Kids, roaring around and driving the adults crazy, there really is hope. We want to show we can play.”But they are getting lots of playoff experience, and fast. Fully half of their 18 skaters had not played an NHL postseason game when the series opened last Thursday. Before this NHL playoff series began, it was all about hope.As in, how the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t have any against the Washington Capitals, a team that may have playoff baggage, but is now big, strong and fast, and cruised to first place overall by playing it any way it needed to. Now they have nine periods of it in what was supposed to be six periods of hockey.The success is because a lot of the Leafs are growing quickly right in front of everyone’s eyes. We don’t need no stinking experience.”Well, goaltender Frederik Andersen, who was really good in Game 1 save for an unfortunate whiff on the game-winner and superb in Game 2, practically said as much.“I don’t think we expect to just have an experience,” he said. 8 defenceman Alexey Marchenko.Capitals head coach Barry Trotz is rubbing his hands together at the prospect of an already thin Leafs defence taking another hit. Otherwise, it’s No. Everyone’s talking about how it’s been unexpected for us to just make the playoffs but we want to do more. But Babcock, who gave the Leafs Sunday off after they got in from Washington at 3:30 a.m., said that still won’t be known until after Monday’s game-day skate. As in, hope they can actually steal this series from an opponent that must surely be feeling some nervous tremors.After two wildly entertaining overtime games, in which the Leafs could have lost both or won both, they came home with a 1-1 split in the first-round, best-of-seven series. Matt Hunwick and Martin Marincin were in the 30-minute range while Connor Carrick was used sparingly to spell them off.The hope is that Nikita Zaitsev, who’s been out since the last weekend of the regular season with a suspected concussion, will be able to return on Monday. “We’ve got lots of training staff. He said Sunday he thought some of the defencemen were sorely taxed and the Capitals will keep the heat on.“This series is about wearing people down, and I think we’re fine that way,” Trotz said. He is logging top-dog minutes and he scored his first NHL playoff goal on a late second-period power play.This is fortuitous timing for the Leafs because they now have to rely on Rielly and fellow defenceman Jake Gardiner, who has been right there with him in the stellar-play department. We know what we have to do to prepare for the next game.”Rielly thinks the Leafs are managing to overcome some big mistakes, and there were a few more in Game 2, because they are a close-knit team that looks out for each other.“I think over the course of a game that long [on Saturday] it’s draining mentally and it’s easy to make mistakes,” he said. “But I think we did a good job as a team backing each other up, picking each other up when we needed to.” This was thanks to their 4-3 win in double overtime Saturday night amid an ear-splitting din at the Verizon Center powered by thousands of giveaway cowbells.Read more: The latest news and results from the 2017 Stanley Cup PlayoffsNow the Leafs get to go for the lead in Game 3 on Monday night in front of their own fans, who will surely forget their usual corporate reserve and be screaming their heads off at the Air Canada Centre, not to mention the really crazy ones a few steps away in Maple Leaf Square in front of the big screen.While the youthful Leafs are, by and large, an unassuming bunch, it is easy to imagine them away from the cameras, laughing and channelling the banditos in Blazing Saddles: “Experience? Those 40-plus minutes, those are hard to recover from.”Rielly, though, doesn’t see the problem.“As far as minutes go, we’ll be fine, we’ve got young legs,” Rielly said.

‘We can’t quit’: For Hamilton and the Calgary Flames, a chance to stage a comeback at home

But you just have to stay positive. The good news: There will be nearly 19,000 screaming, red-clad supporters in the pews Monday, all hoping Hamilton will be singing a happier tune after the evening’s performance. Along with goaltender Brian Elliott, they were considered the key to shutting down a top-heavy Anaheim attack that has relied heavily on Ryan Getzlaf’s production since early March.But Hamilton had two grim nights against the Ducks, taking three minor penalties in the opening-night loss. “It’s just a hockey game to us. You can do the math. Their margin of error in the series may have evaporated, but they are also aware that territorially, they’ve been no worse than even against the Ducks. “You just kind of keep playing through.”The expression on Hamilton’s face, when he delivered those words, was morose, closing in on hang dog. When the margins are so small, the errors seem more egregious – and when you believe the calls are inconsistent, which Flames coach Glen Gulutzan asserted Saturday night, the losses sting a little more.“It’s part of the game and you can’t control those calls,” Hamilton said. It’s just an unfortunate outcome – and my responsibility on the penalty. One game later, he was sitting in the penalty box again for holding Corey Perry’s stick with under six minutes to go when Getzlaf scored the Ducks’ game-winning goal.Hamilton has taken four minor penalties in two games. In Hamilton, the stage play, an orphaned boy from the Caribbean becomes an American founding father and has a spectacular rise through the emerging U.S. We’re going to come at them hard at home and turn the series around.”They are brave words on the surface, which Hamilton delivered in just a shade above a whisper, in the midst of a funereal Flames’ dressing room, where they were left to clutch all available straws. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well for the protagonist.In Hamilton, the hockey docudrama playing out in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Calgary Flames defenceman Dougie Hamilton is struggling to find his regular-season form in a series against the Anaheim Ducks that has been close on the ice, but not on the scoreboard. Three resulted in Anaheim power-play goals. “We’re all professionals in here. We can’t quit. “What happened in the past, you can’t control anymore.”The games in Anaheim ended so late that the Flames stayed over Saturday night and then flew home Sunday to celebrate Easter with their families. But they didn’t, and professional sport is unforgiving that way.The reality is, the Flames are on the ropes already, and hoping the change of venue also changes their luck, having lost Saturday’s game on a Getzlaf shot that pin-balled in off Lance Bouma’s skate and changed directions so wildly that it will make the blooper reels forever.Getzlaf was a force for Anaheim again, with four points in two games, and another good night (12-2) in the faceoff circle.Getzlaf is a bit of a local hero in Calgary, after playing his junior hockey for the WHL’s Hitmen, which retired his sweater some years ago.Accordingly, whenever Getzlaf plays in Calgary, he does so in an arena in which his retired number is hanging from the rafters.At different times in his career, this has been a source of great mirth to some of his teammates. But right now, the Ducks seem all business. Troy Brouwer, added to provide some playoff oomph to the team’s young lineup, has yet to make an impact.But no one has had a tougher start to the series than Hamilton, who had a major impact in the regular season, in which he scored 49 points, while mostly playing alongside team captain Mark Giordano on the team’s No. 1 defence pair.Together, the two formed one of the most effective regular-season defence tandems in the NHL. We haven’t quit all season. They were laughably bad in the second period of Saturday’s game, which coach Randy Carlyle called one of the team’s worst of the year.But they reset in time for the third and Getzlaf, in that no-nonsense way of his, dismissed the fallacy that something was said or changed in the Ducks’ dressing room between periods to reverse the course of the game.“We don’t have to have a magical phrase or whatever,” Getzlaf said. The way things are going – more than 4,000 days since Calgary last won in Anaheim – you start to think that maybe there really is a curse at work here.“We don’t think about that,” Hamilton said. The Ducks won both games by identical 3-2 scores. Calgary is down 2-0 to the Ducks, having lost 29 regular-season and playoff games in a row on Anaheim ice dating to the 2006 Western Conference quarter-finals.Read more: The latest news and results from the 2017 Stanley Cup PlayoffsJohnny Gaudreau, the team’s leading scorer, has been practically invisible at even strength. At different times, it veered into sorrowful. Spoiler alert: If Hamilton and his teammates don’t reverse the course of the series soon – say, beginning with Monday’s third game – it isn’t going to end well for them, either. Just breathe and get ready to go.”Collectively, the Flames and Hamilton were following Getzlaf’s advice Sunday, taking a few deep breaths to steady themselves.“You’ve got to stay as much as you can in the present and think positive thoughts,” said Alex Chiasson, who had a second-period goal disallowed for goaltender interference Saturday that might have changed the outcome. political system. Only when Hamilton was asked about Monday’s venue change in their best-of-seven playoff series – from the Honda House of Horrors to the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary – could he summon up a small ounce of optimism and resolve.“It’s going to be fun to play at home,” Hamilton said, in a tone that telegraphed exactly how much fun he’s had in the series – which is to say, none at all.The Flames played two pretty good games against the Ducks and probably deserved to win at least once.