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Another 50-goal season puts Ovechkin in elite group

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 12:32 PM / News

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin continues to pile up milestones and memberships in exclusive clubs almost at the rate at which he is scoring goals.

Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the 2014-15 season Tuesday night for the Washington Capitals in a 4-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes. It is the sixth time he has scored that many in his prolific career.

The list is impeccable: Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy have nine 50-goal seasons, while Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and now Ovechkin have six.

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Jets' Byfuglien faces Player Safety hearing

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 12:00 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will have a telephone hearing Thursday with the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit against New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller during a game at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

Miller was hit by Byfuglien in front of the Winnipeg net at 17:23 of the second period. No penalty was assessed on the play and Miller remained in the game.

The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: Cross checking. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Niskanen heats up just in time

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen burst onto the fantasy scene last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins with his best offensive showing since 2008-09, putting up a career best numbers in goals (10), assists (36), points (46), plus-minus (33), power play assists (12) and shots on goal (162).

That he did so during a contract year helped him cash in with lucrative seven-year, $40.25 million dollar contract with the Capitals.

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Playoff Countdown: Pens fighting for second place

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 11:42 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Pittsburgh Penguins take center stage on a four-game night in the NHL, not only because they are part of the Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, but because they have the best chance to re-order the muddled picture for the Stanley Cup Playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins host their primary rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m.; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) with a chance to solidify its place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

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Hurricanes agree to terms with defenseman McKeown

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 11:41 AM / News

CarolinaHurricanes.com

RALEIGH, NCRon Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Roland McKeown (muh-KOW-uhn) on a three-year, entry-level contract. On the NHL level, the deal will pay McKeown $625,000 in 2015-16, $675,000 in 2016-17 and $750,000 in 2017-18. His American Hockey League (AHL) salary will be $70,000 per year, and he receives a signing bonus of $277,500.

"We like what we've seen from Roland on the ice, and the leadership qualities he displays as Kingston's captain," Francis said. "He was an important part of the trade we made with Los Angeles in February, and we are excited to see him continue to develop."

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Playoff clinching scenario for Wednesday, April 1

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 11:10 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL Public Relations

With 11 days remaining in the regular season, there are 11 berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There is one clinching scenario involving a game Wednesday:

* The Anaheim Ducks, who have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, would clinch the Pacific Division if they earn at least one point against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won back-to-back games and are in a heated race to secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers would like to do nothing more than to help deny them that opportunity.

Pittsburgh (42-23-11) has earned points in four of its past five games, including a 3-2 shootout victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Philadelphia (30-29-17), which has points in two of its past three, is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose on Saturday. The Flyers have four games remaining against teams battling for playoff position.

The Penguins, who are 3-1-1 in their past five games, will try to secure two more points when they host the Flyers at Consol Energy Center in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1).

"No matter how the year goes for us or them, it's always a big rivalry and heated games, a lot of emotion and intensity in them," defenseman Paul Martin said, according to the Penguins website. "I'm sure I wouldn't expect anything different."

In the nightcap, the Sharks will face the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center (NBCSN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET). San Jose (37-30-9) has earned points in three straight games as it tries to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

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Eichel remains a hot topic entering NCAA Frozen Four

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Boston University senior forward Evan Rodrigues is pretty confident in the fact a team can devise a strategy to deny teammate Jack Eichel, a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, for only so long.

Rodrigues said he hopes that trend continues when the Terriers play against the University of North Dakota in the semifinal round of the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four at TD Garden in Boston on April 9 (8:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2).

Boston University is headed back to the Frozen Four for the first time since winning its fifth NCAA title in 2009. North Dakota advances for the seventh time in coach Dave Hakstol's 11 years as coach.

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Defense-oriented Penguins feel they're set for playoffs

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are nearly unrecognizable.

They have been one of the NHL's more explosive teams throughout the past decade. Having forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin centering the top two lines has that effect. The tandem has combined to lead the League in points per game each of the past five seasons, with Crosby first on each occasion except 2010-11.

That production has led to Pittsburgh averaging 3.16 goals per game entering this season since Crosby's rookie year of 2005-06.

Some things stay the same. Crosby leads the NHL in scoring with 79 points, two more than Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek entering their game at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1). But that has not translated into overall offensive success like it had in his previous nine seasons with Pittsburgh.

"I think this time of year, it's about us," Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew said. "We've got to make sure we've got our game fine-tuned to where it has to be heading into the last couple of weeks and into the playoffs. [Wednesday] is just another fine-tune game for us."

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Around the League notebook for Tuesday, March 31

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 1:46 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

LUCIC, ROOKIES RALLY BRUINS IN THIRD PERIOD . . .

Down 2-1 after 40 minutes, the line of David Pastrnak (1-1—2), Milan Lucic (1-1—2) and Ryan Spooner (0-2—2) scored the tying and winning goals – at 9:47 and 18:51, respectively – to rally the Boston Bruins past the Florida Panthers for their third straight victory and a 6-0-3 mark in their last nine games at TD Garden.

* The Bruins (39-25-13, 91 points) claimed crucial points to strengthen their grip on the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They maintained a three-point edge over the Ottawa Senators (38-26-12, 88 points) – who won in a shootout – and pulling six points ahead of the Panthers (35-27-15, 85 points).

* The Bruins improved to 10-0-1 in their last 11 games vs. Florida and have won eight straight head-to-head matchups at TD Garden dating to Dec. 23, 2011. That includes a 2-0-1 mark against in 2014-15; the teams close their season series on April 9 at BB&T Center.

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes