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Nikita Zaitsev Jersey Kids
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Thomas Vanek learned early in his career how tough it is to win in the playoffs.When Vanek and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games in 2006 to advance http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com...lly-jersey , the rookie winger looked across the locker room at 37-year-old Teppo Numminen, who was on the verge of tears. Numminen had never made it out of the first round in his previous 16 NHL seasons and was overjoyed.”It hit me right there and then, `Man this is hard,”’ Vanek said.Vanek is now on the other side. In the playoffs for the seventh time, he is the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ oldest player at 34. Just like Rick Nash in Boston, postseason struggles and inconsistencies have followed Vanek his entire career. Based on his play down the stretch and in Game 1 against Washington, he looks poised for some playoff redemption.”A very consistent scorer throughout his year and has a lot to prove and wants to win the Stanley Cup,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Friday. ”That’s why he’s excited to be here. He wants to prove people wrong, if they think that he can’t do it in the playoffs. He wants to show that he can, and he had a good start.”Vanek had a goal and an assist to help the Blue Jackets take a 1-0 series lead on the Capitals, and young teammate Artemi Panarin scored the game-winner to finish with three points – two more than he had in Chicago’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Predators a year ago. Kekalainen pointed out Panarin was a point-a-game player for the Blackhawks in the playoffs two years ago, so hold up on the reputation rehab there.The same goes for Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has been up and down in the playoffs. The 25-year-old from the same town in Russia as Panarin already has more goals in one game this year than he did in the 2016 playoffs, when Washington lost in the second round.Vanek and Nash know they’re running out of time to win the Cup and make a difference on that journey.Nash, who drew two penalties and played over 17 minutes in his return from injury in the Bruins’ Game 1 blowout of the Maple Leafs, has seen his goal production drop by half from the regular season to the playoffs over the course of his career. The 33-year-old trade-deadline pickup should get plenty of chances to show he can still be a playoff performer.”He’s an important player for us,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”That deal was made for a reason. He’s an elite player … makes us more of a threat (as) a team. He’s just a proven player in this league that can finish, that can win pucks and get to the net.”Getting to the net has never been a problem for Vanek, whose power-play goal in Game 1 came from crashing the crease. But he hasn’t always found it easy to score in the playoffs and has struggled with a minus-16 rating in six previous appearances with the Sabres, Canadiens and Wild.Vanek didn’t know how he would fit in with Columbus, though the reviews from coach John Tortorella are positive – and honest. Vanek’s propensity for defensive miscues and mistakes with the puck, and his sometimes frustrating inconsistencies, have given Tortorella and others grey hairs.”I think he really is thriving and is excited about the role he has, that he was and we were in a playoff hunt and now he’s in the playoffs,” Tortorella said. ”I can see why he gives coaches nightmares in some of the things he does. I get that. But I think sometimes you need to ignore some of that and allow him to play and not get in his way. I think he’s been terrific.”Several times leading up to the start of the playoffs and even after his goal, Vanek was asked about making an important contribution in the playoffs. Each time he changed the subject to the need for someone Nikita Zaitsev Jersey Kids , anyone, on the team to have success.”You can tell how excited everyone is,” Vanek said. ”It doesn’t matter if you score or not.”Scoring or not, making a long run a reality would be Vanek’s real redemption.— TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Andrei Vasilevskiy put together a terrific performance in another victory for Tampa Bay.One play was especially memorable.Vasilevskiy robbed Anze Kopitar when he put his glove behind his back for spectacular stop in the first period, part of a 44-save Saturday night in the NHL-leading Lightning’s 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Alex Killorn, Cedric Paquette and Nikita Kucherov also scored for the Lightning.Vasilevskiy allowed a goal on the Kings’ first shot and then stopped 17 straight shots over the rest of the period, including the play on Kopitar.”To be honest, I didn’t see anything,” Vasilevskiy said. ”I just saw the blade of Kopitar’s stick. I realized I didn’t have enough time to be square to the puck so I made the decision to turn the other way and I got lucky.””I told him to go buy a lottery ticket,” Kopitar said.Jonny Brodzinski, Kyle Clifford and Christian Folin scored for the Kings, who nearly came back from a three-goal deficit entering the third period. Jonathan Quick stopped 13 of 14 shots after replacing Darcy Kuemper early in the second.The Lightning retired Vincent Lecavalier’s No. 4 during a pregame ceremony. Lecavalier, who tops the franchise list for game played (1,037) and goals (383), joined Martin St. Louis as the only Tampa Bay players to have their jerseys retired.After Stamkos scored 65 seconds into the game, Los Angeles tied it at 1 on Brodzinski goal at 5:02 of the first.Killorn made it 2-1 on a breakaway off a Stamkos pass right after serving an interference penalty.Paquette put the Lightning up 3-1 at 3:12 of the second when his backhander from behind the net went in off Kuemper’s left leg. Kuemper departed after giving up three goals on 14 shots.Los Angeles right wing Dustin Brown received a five-minute kneeing penalty and a game misconduct for a hit on Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who returned for the third.Kucherov scored on the ensuing power play.Clifford scored 3:17 into the third before Folin cut the deficit to 4-3 with 6:55 remaining. Vasilevskiy turned aside 18 third-period shots, making a big save at the buzzer on Drew Doughty.”I tried to go blocker side,” Doughty said. ”I didn’t have time to pick up my head and see where I’m shooting it.”Vasilevskiy leads the NHL with 33 wins.”He’s the best,” Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman said. ”There’s no doubt in my mind.”NOTES: Kings C Trevor Lewis, hurt in Friday’s game at Florida when he was checked into the boards, returned to Los Angeles to be examined by team doctors. … Tampa Bay has outscored its opponent 75-45 in the second period.UP NEXTKings: Plays at Carolina Tuesday night.Lightning: Visits Toronto Monday night.
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