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Inside the matchup: Penguins vs. Capitals

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 10:30 AM / Tale of the Tape

John Kreiser - Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Washington Capitals when they face off in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports).

They are separated by one point in the tight Metropolitan Division race, but the Capitals have dominated the Penguins so far this season, winning all three games and outscoring Pittsburgh 10-1. That includes Washington's 3-1 victory in Pittsburgh eight days ago.

The game features two of the NHL's top stars, each of whom has enjoyed success against the other's team during his career. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has 17 goals and 50 points in 32 career games against Washington; Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals has 26 goals and 45 points in 38 career games against the Penguins.


Gaudreau homecoming king on Flames road trip

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The "Johnny Hockey" show has come east for what is essentially an extended roots tour for the Calgary Flames rookie.

Typically a homecoming for an NHL player is a quick visit, one night and two days, two nights if he's lucky, just enough time to see some friends, catch up with his family and go on his way.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau gets 11 days and nights.

"I've been waiting for it all season," Gaudreau said Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, where the Flames lost 1-0 to the New York Rangers in the first of a seven-game road trip.


Five things to watch when Capitals host Penguins

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Six points separate the top four spots in the Metropolitan Division. Two of them are occupied by teams involved in this week's edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry.

The Washington Capitals, who have won seven of their past 10 games, will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN1). The Penguins (34-17-9) currently reside in third place in the Metropolitan, one point ahead of Washington (33-18-10).

Pittsburgh has managed to stay in the division race despite a 7-11-4 record against division opponents; Washington is 13-5-4.

"They're a really good team," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "They are solid defensively. You have to find a way to overcome that and score goals and get big wins. We haven't done a good enough job in our division."

The Capitals had won four in a row before a 3-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Washington hasn't gone consecutive games without a point in over a month.

"I think there's a little bit of a rivalry starting to develop again between the Penguins and the Caps," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Both teams will be amped up. It should be a good game."


Capitals' Ovechkin, Backstrom again thriving together

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- During the 2008-09 season, the Washington Capitals' in-game introduction video at Verizon Center featured several players in the roles of rock stars.

Alex Ovechkin was front and center as the band's lead vocalist, a natural outlet for his contagious charisma. Behind him, Nicklas Backstrom strummed the bass guitar, a less glamorous but unequivocally essential responsibility.

Six seasons later, their foray into faux rock stardom provides an apt metaphor. Ovechkin still commands enormous attention as the NHL's ultimate showman. Meanwhile, Backstrom has continued to quietly provide the underlying rhythm, keeping the Capitals on beat.

"It's sort of like a real relationship between two lovers, essentially," Washington defenseman Mike Green said. "They're completely different players, but they balance each other out and they work well together."

This season, the longtime linemates are among the League's most productive players.


Islanders' Leddy has grown into cornerstone player

Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 11:14 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Nick Leddy has been everything the New York Islanders could have hoped for when they acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks before the start of the season. On Tuesday they made sure he'll be around for a while.

The Islanders announced Leddy has agreed to a seven-year contract that will keep the soon-to-be 24-year-old defenseman with them throughout the prime of his career. No financial terms were disclosed, but Leddy's agent, Neil Sheehy, said the deal is worth $38.5 million for an average annual value of $5.5 million.

Leddy could have become a restricted free agent this summer. Instead he'll be with the Islanders through the 2021-22 season.

He said that while thoughts about whether he wanted to commit to the Islanders began almost as soon as he arrived, he's tried to keep his focus on the ice.


EPIX completes journey with Sharks, Kings at game

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Part of the charm of a reality television series is it gives the viewer a chance to feel every high and low, to understand the true effects of elation and deflation. Those emotions were at the core of "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Stadium Series," which ended with its fourth episode Tuesday.

It took us through part of the NHL season with the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. We saw the Kings at their lowest and how they dug out of it. We saw the Sharks feeling good about their game and struggling with a crisis in confidence.

We met individual players and went on vacation with San Jose's Joe Thornton. We got to know Chris Sutter, son of Kings coach Darryl Sutter. We learned why John Scott is beloved by his Sharks teammates. We saw how serious the coaches can be.

The 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game was played Saturday at Levi's Stadium, an outdoor game that had more meaning in the standings than any of the previous 13 the NHL staged.


Wild acquire Bergenheim in trade with Panthers

Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 9:37 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild acquired Sean Bergenheim in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, giving up a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft for the veteran forward. The Wild also receive the Panthers' seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft.

Bergenheim is in the final year of a four-year, $11 million contract and has eight goals and 10 assists in 39 games this season. He's played in 489 NHL games with the Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders.

Bergenheim, 31, was a first-round pick (No. 22) of the Islanders in the 2002 NHL Draft.

"We were looking for some depth," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "We're playing with 12 guys up front right now that are playing well, but you get one or two more injuries and you start to really get into some issues. The emphasis for us was to find a proven guy with some playoff experience that's wiling to compete, go to the net, pursue pucks, and Sean brings all those attributes."


Canadiens trade Sekac to Ducks for Smith-Pelly

Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 4:32 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

The Montreal Canadiens beefed up their forward group Tuesday by trading some speed and skill to the Anaheim Ducks.

The Canadiens traded rookie forward Jiri Sekac to the Ducks for forward Devante Smith-Pelly.

Sekac and Smith-Pelly are each 22 and were born four days apart in June 1992.

"I see Jiri more as a player who is quick; a bit less speed, but more quick," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters in St. Louis on Tuesday, where the Canadiens were preparing to face the St. Louis Blues. "Those are the terms we use. From [point] A to [point] B he's really fast, but over a long distance he's not the fastest player. He's really good down low and in the corners. But in that sense I don't think we lose anything with Devante, who is not as fast. He's a big guy. He's not a speed demon, but he'll go into the tough areas and for us that was something we found attractive."

Sekac has seven goals and 16 points in 50 games. He took part in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition last month.

"[Sekac] has good upside offensively. He can skate, he can shoot. He's one of those late bloomers," Ducks GM Bob Murray said.


Ducks recall Karlsson, reassign Bryzgalov to AHL

Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:47 PM / News

The Ducks have recalled center William Karlsson from the Norfolk Admirals, Anaheim’s primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL). In addition, the Ducks have reassigned goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to Norfolk.

Karlsson, 22, has collected three points with a plus-2 rating and two penalty minutes in 17 games with the Ducks this season. The 6-0, 185-pound center made his NHL debut on Oct. 11 at Detroit and scored his first two NHL goals, including his first career game-winner, on Oct. 13 at Buffalo. Selected by Anaheim in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Karlsson earned 21 points with two PIMs in 35 games for the Admirals this season.


Islanders' Leddy signs seven-year contract

Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:20 PM / News

Nick Leddy signed a seven-year contract with the New York Islanders, the team announced Tuesday.

Leddy, a 23-year-old defenseman, could have become a restricted free agent in July. The Islanders did not reveal terms of the contract; Leddy's agent, Neil Sheehy, said the contract is worth $38.5 million, so it will cost $5.5 million per season against the salary cap and run through 2021-22.

"Nick has proven to be an elite defenseman in this League at a young age," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement. "He's the type of player on the ice, in the locker room and in the community that we're thrilled to add as a cornerstone of our defensive core."

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Quote of the Day

I loved being in the jerseys again and they worked some magic for us. It was weird in warm-ups, seeing No. 22 in that jersey and thinking he’s [Mike Gartner], and No. 8 reminds you of Danny Briere … every number had me thinking back to the guys who wore them and smiling.

— Coyotes captain Shane Doan on wearing Kachina-style throwback jerseys in a 3-2 victory against the Canucks on Thursday