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Around the League notebook for Monday, March 16

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 1:39 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

LIGHTNING DEFEAT CANADIENS, TIE MONTREAL AT TOP OF ATLANTIC DIVISION STANDINGS

Steven Stamkos (2-1—3) posted his seventh three-point performance of the season to power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning, who have earned points in six of their past seven games (5-1-1), are 43-21-7 (93 points) this season and tied the Canadiens for first in Atlantic Division standing points. Montreal, however, holds a game in hand over Tampa Bay.

* The Lightning earned their 27th win on home ice this season, which extended their record. They are 27-7-1 at home this season.

* Stamkos scored twice and added his 26th assist of the season. Stamkos, who has scored 11 times in his past 15 games (11-4—15), paces the Lightning with 39 goals and ranks tied for second among League-leaders in the category.

* Ben Bishop made 32 saves and is 34-11-4 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. Bishop has earned points in four consecutive decisions (3-0-1) and in eight of his past nine (7-1-1).

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Canucks sign defenseman Ben Hutton

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 6:16 PM / News

VancouverCanucks.com

Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the Canucks have signed defenceman Ben Hutton.

Hutton, 21, recorded 21 points (9-12-21) and 14 penalty minutes with the University of Maine this season. In 108 career total NCAA games for the Black Bears Hutton scored 28 goals, 37 assists (28-37- 65) and logged 40 penalty minutes. Hutton was named a Second Team All-American, named to the Hockey East First Team and the recipient of the Bob Monahan Award (top defenceman in New England) following a career season in 2013-14.

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Ducks sign Montour to entry-level contract

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 5:59 PM / News

AnaheimDucks.com

The Anaheim Ducks have signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a three-year entry-level contract beginning in the 2015-16 season. Per club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Montour, 20 (4/11/94), scored 3-17=20 points with 30 penalty minutes (PIM) in 21 games with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Hockey East) this season. Among team leaders, Montour ranked first in points-per-game (0.95), second in assists and first in scoring among defensemen. He was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Month for January after ranking tied for second in the nation for scoring by a defenseman with 2-8=10 points in eight games. The 6-0, 180-pound defenseman began 2014-15 with Waterloo of the United States Hockey League (USHL), collecting 6-15=21 points with 30 PIM in 17 games.

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Rutherford confident Penguins are ready for playoffs

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 5:45 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Pittsburgh Penguins may have lost a pair of home games in the span of 24 hours last weekend, but general manager Jim Rutherford believes they are ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A shutout loss to the Boston Bruins in a Saturday matinee, and a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in a nationally televised afternoon game on Sunday, sounded some alarm bells around a team which has struggled for consistency all season.

Rutherford, however, was not concerned when he arrived for the start of the spring installment of the NHL's general managers meetings. The Penguins are 39-20-10 and in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind the New York Islanders with two games in hand. The Washington Capitals, which holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, is four points behind the Penguins.

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Panthers goaltender contest down to final two

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 5:43 PM / News

FloridaPanthers.com

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers announced today that Bill Ruggiero and Dustin Smith have been chosen as the two finalists selected for the team's Goal of a Lifetime competition to become the Panthers' back-up practice goaltender for a day.

Ruggiero, 34, is a former professional/semi-pro goaltender who spent time playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League (2004-05, 2006-07), Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League (2001-02) and the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League (2007-08). Ruggiero resides in Melbourne, Florida.

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Goalie interference among Day 1 GM Meetings topics

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 4:45 PM / News

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Issues related to goaltender interference and crease presence, as well as more defined emergency goaltender protocols, were the main topics of conversation Monday as the League's general managers gathered for the first of three days of meetings.

Other topics, including the much-hyped discussion about potential format changes for the overtime period of regular-season games, are expected to take center stage Tuesday and Wednesday.

The first day, though, was spent analyzing other items on the agenda, including the goaltending-related issues and possibly changing the protocols around the diving and embellishment issue.

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Trophy, playoff races among questions remaining

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

There are fewer than 200 games remaining in the 2014-15 NHL regular season and the only race remotely close to being decided is the one for first place in the Pacific Division. The Anaheim Ducks have a 13-point lead.

The rest of the playoff chases and scoring races are still up for grabs. Home-ice advantage is on the line. Players are trying secure their candidacy for postseason awards. Ten teams are within eight points of the lead for the Presidents' Trophy.

So much still has to be decided and yet the days are quickly ticking off the calendar. So many questions still have to be answered, but why wait until April 11, the final day of the regular season, when all 30 teams are in action? Why can't we just answer the hot questions now?

Here are 15 important questions heading into the homestretch of the season, with some educated guesswork for the answers:

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Senators GM Murray saving lives through cancer fight

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 3:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- St. Louis Blues assistant coach Brad Shaw is proof of how Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray is saving lives by spreading awareness through the public battle he is waging against stage 4 colon cancer.

If not for Murray's honesty and forthrightness since being diagnosed in June, particularly in a video piece for TSN reported by Michael Farber, himself a cancer survivor, members of the Blues coaching and management staffs would not have scheduled themselves for colonoscopies during the NHL All-Star break in late January. That's where Shaw found out he had a golf-ball sized polyp on the wall of his colon that if undetected could have been life threatening.

Doctors told Shaw he should have the polyp removed immediately. He had surgery on Jan. 28 and was behind the Blues bench the next night coaching against the Nashville Predators.

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Penguins' Malkin, Hornqvist out about one week

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 2:42 PM / News

NHL.com

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin likely will miss a week, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday.

Rutherford, speaking at the meeting of the League's general managers here, said that Malkin and forward Patric Hornqvist each could miss at least three games.

"Malkin's probably … he's a hard read because he heals so quick. But I'll say seven to 14 days," Rutherford said. "For Hornqvist, I'll say probably a week. He's not travelling with us this week."

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Canucks goaltender Markstrom recalled from AHL

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 2:37 PM / News

VancouverCanucks.com

Vancouver, B.C.Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the Canucks have recalled goaltender Jacob Markstrom from the Utica Comets. The club has also reassigned goaltender Joacim Eriksson to Utica.

Markstrom, 25, has compiled a record of 19-7-2 including five shutouts with the Utica Comets this season. In 48 NHL games, the 6'6", 199 pound goaltender has a record of 12-28-5 with a 3.25 goals against average. The Gavle, Sweden native was originally selected by Florida 31st overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Eriksson, 24, has a record of 17-10-5, a .907 save percentage, and a 2.61 goals against average with the Utica Comets this season. The 6'2", 196 pound goaltender made his NHL debut on January 15, 2014 at Anaheim. The Gavle, Sweden native signed with Vancouver as a free agent on June 17, 2013.

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Quote of the Day

For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday