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Top performer: Predators' Neal delivers in overtime

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 12:00 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

A clutch shot from forward James Neal helped the Nashville Predators widen their lead in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, awarded to the top regular-season team in the NHL.

Neal came up big on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena when he scored with 33 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Predators a 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Following a turnover near center ice, Nashville defenseman Roman Josi found Neal breaking toward the Lightning net. Neal skated past Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman and beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy through the five-hole with a wrist shot from the left circle.

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Unmasked: Jets tandem allows time to improve

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

When it comes to the Winnipeg Jets' goaltending situation, it isn't hard to find people clamoring for rookie Michael Hutchinson to be named the unquestioned No. 1 ahead of incumbent Ondrej Pavelec.

Even a casual glance at their numbers this season shows why: Hutchinson has more wins (15-7-3) than Pavelec (13-11-7) in eight fewer starts, and even though a three-game skid after the All-Star break stopped Hutchinson from leading the NHL in save percentage, he has a distinct edge over Pavelec (.925 to .911).

That may lead to an increased workload for Hutchinson down the stretch as the Jets try to secure their first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since moving back to Winnipeg. But Hutchinson's recent blip starting three straight games for the second time this season isn't the only reason the Jets are happy to have options in goal.

In addition to easing Hutchinson into any expanded role without sacrificing important goalie-specific development time, the split allows Pavelec to continue modernizing and modifying a technical approach that seemed neglected during his first four NHL seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers.

"The beauty of what we have is the opportunity to balance the two goalies," Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty told NHL.com. "It gives me time to work with [Pavelec]. We never had the opportunity to do this in-season before because he was playing 65 games a year."

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T. Fleury rocks Halifax for Hockey Day in Canada

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Six years ago, former NHL star Theo Fleury phoned a friend in Winnipeg who he thought could help him cross an item off his bucket list. What he thought at the time might have been a reach has turned into a new chapter and career for one of the most interesting people in hockey.

Fleury, an Olympic gold medal winner, Stanley Cup champion and best-selling author, is now a budding country music star who is planning to release his first still untitled album with his band, The Death Valley Rebels, in May.

Theo Fleury and The Death Valley Rebels were part of the show in the Scotiabank Stolen From a Hockey Card concert at Spatz Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Thursday. The event was part of the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada festivities ongoing in Halifax.

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Hanifin tops all defensive prospects for 2015 Draft

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Boston College freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin didn't hesitate when asked if freshman forward Jack Eichel of rival Boston University would be able to beat him wide in a one-on-one situation.

The question certainly has merit since Hanifin and Eichel have seen a lot of each other over the years. They were teammates for the United States Under-18 National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., teammates for the United States National Junior Team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, and are now opponents in Hockey East.

The fact the question was even posed to Hanifin is telling enough to how talented a player he is, considering Eichel is regarded as a generational star, a virtual lock as a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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Around the League notebook for Wednesday, Feb. 11

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 2:15 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

NABOKOV ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who began this season with the Tampa Bay Lightning before he was traded to the San Jose Sharks on Monday for future considerations, announced his retirement Wednesday during a press conference at SAP Center in San Jose. The Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan native retired with the club he began his NHL career with and played a total of 10 seasons for from 1999-00 to 2009-10. The Sharks' all-time leader in games played (563) and wins (293) among goaltenders participated in a ceremonial puck drop prior to San Jose’s game against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

CANUCKS, CAPITALS EARN 5-4 OVERTIME VICTORIES ON THE ROAD

The Vancouver Canucks and the Washington Capitals earned overtime road wins by scores of 5-4 over the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, respectively.

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Kane excited by 'fresh start' with Sabres: report

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 7:45 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

Left wing Evander Kane said he is looking forward to a "fresh start" with the Buffalo Sabres after being traded to them by the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.

"I'm definitely glad to be moving on and I'm going to have a fresh start with a new team," Kane told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. "I'm looking forward to the future for sure."

That future won't start until next season because Kane is sidelined after surgery to repair his left shoulder. He told LeBrun the timing of the surgery was not based on him being scratched from a game last week and a reported problem with some teammates.

"I had it (the shoulder injury) last year and it got worse over the last two months," Kane said. "And actually, when they went in there to do the surgery, they found a hole in my shoulder as well and some other things they had to fix. It was a little more complicated than everyone thought at first, so it's really good we got it fixed now.

"That some people thought I was having surgery just to end my season, that's so not true. That's the biggest thing I want to make clear."

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Sabres acquire Kane from Jets in blockbuster trade

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 7:16 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets started the run-up to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline with a bang Wednesday, completing a blockbuster trade that sends forward Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres for a package that includes defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, two prospects and a first-round pick.

"It’s nice to go somewhere where you feel wanted and you feel that they want to put you in a situation to have success," Kane told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com.

Buffalo holds three first-round picks in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Sabres have previously acquired first-round picks in this draft from the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said the Sabres will decide which pick is transferred to complete the trade.

"This was not a knee-jerk reaction," Cheveldayoff said, noting there was strong interest in Kane from several teams. "I'm excited what this trade brings to our organization. … I feel good with the 'now,' but I’m really excited about the prospects of the future in this whole deal."

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Evgeni Nabokov announces retirement from NHL

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 6:37 PM / News

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov's NHL career ended Wednesday where it began 15 years ago with the San Jose Sharks.

With his family and former Sharks teammates and coaches looking on, an emotional Nabokov announced his retirement from the League during a press conference at SAP Center.

"I thought I was going to have no problem talking, but I think I will," Nabokov said, fighting back tears.

The Sharks selected Nabokov in the ninth round (No. 219) of the 1994 NHL Draft out of Kazakhstan. He went on to play 10 seasons for San Jose, setting almost every major goaltending record in Sharks history.

Nabokov has the most wins (293) and shutouts (50), and played more games (563) than any other Sharks goaltender.

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Sabres shake up roster again as rebuild continues

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 5:26 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- For the second straight season, the Buffalo Sabres have shaken up their roster in a big way near the NHL Trade Deadline.

The Sabres traded defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, forward prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and a 2015 first-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for forward Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian and goaltender Jason Kasdorf.

"It was shocking," Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said. "Obviously Myers and [Stafford] have been here for a long time. They're great guys, good guys in the room. It's tough to see some good friends leave, but that's the business of this game and each day you just have to wake up and go with it."

Buffalo later traded goaltender Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional 2016 third-round pick.

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Stars acquire goaltender Enroth from Sabres

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 4:36 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The Dallas Stars have acquired goaltender Jhonas Enroth from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade for goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The trade comes at a time when the Stars might be seeking some relief for incumbent starting goalie Kari Lehtonen, who is tied for the NHL lead with 46 starts this season.

Enroth, 26, is in his sixth NHL season, all with the Sabres. He is 13-21-2 with a 3.27 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in 37 games this season. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

"Jhonas is an extremely instinctive, experienced goaltender and head coach Lindy Ruff has a familiarity with his game," Dallas general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. "Going down the stretch, where we have five more back-to-back situations, it was important for us to have a game-tested goaltender to help balance the workload."

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Quote of the Day

It's about enjoying the moment. It's pretty cool to get that many people together and that excited about hockey to the point they really want you to mess up. They've got a ton of red jerseys and you have to sit back and appreciate people love hockey that much and you are the one out there who gets to play the game. Just try and stick with that respect for the game and also the mentality that for me it's just about entering the fight and seeing how long I can stay in it.

— Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller on what he expects from the fans in Calgary for Game 6