Breaking the ice: Lemieux, Crosby become first people to skate at Consol Energy Center

For years, the Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed the increasingly rare advantage of playing at home in an old arena. Rather than playing in a sterile*, impersonal new megadome the team played in crusty old Mellon Arena. As you may know, starting next season, that will change as the Penguins open the arena that Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin built: the Consol Energy Center.

* – Of course, judging from recent health code reports about the Verizon Center and other crummy concession stand situations, “sterile” isn’t such a bad description.

The team had video and a story about Lemieux and Crosby being the first two people to ever skate at the soon-to-be-opened palace. Before I get into some of the details from the story, check out the footage.

Two of the more hockey-relevant details regard the pros and cons of having a new building versus an old one.

One of the common issues with having an old barn is that there are some “bad seats” in the house while new arenas typically are designed to shoot down that problem. Lemieux raved about the sight lines in that article.

On the other hand, old arenas are known for having more charm than their fancier, newer counterparts. Both Lemieux and Crosby said that the seats are pretty close to the ice, though.

“We felt that the seats were pretty close to the ice and that should be great for the atmosphere of the building,” Lemieux said. “We thought that it was going to be great for the fans being so close to the ice. And we also talked about how beautiful the building looked.”

Besides how beautiful the arena looked from ice level, and much like Lemieux, Crosby was also blown away by how close the fans are going to be to the action.

“On the ice I just liked looking around at the building,” Crosby said. “It is first class all the way. When you are out there the stands and the suites seem like they are really close to the ice. That intimacy is something that we had at the Mellon, and I think we brought it here.”

For nostalgic fans, it’s always sad to see an old arena go. Even if the seats are cramped, the bathrooms are decrepit and the place is falling apart. Yet, if Crosby and Lemieux are correct, the Consol Energy Center might provide the best of both worlds – the bells and whistles of a profitable new arena plus the intimacy of an older design. We’ll wait and see, because chances are, they’ll get to test drive it in the playoffs soon enough.

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    Flames win in OT, setting up a four-team race for Pacific Division title

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    ST. LOUIS (AP) Sean Monahan likes working overtime. The Calgary Flames forward proved it again Saturday night.

    Monahan scored with 3 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Flames past the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Troy Brouwer and Matt Bartkowski also scored for the Flames, who improved to 13-4 in overtime this season. Brian Elliott made 29 saves.

    Monahan’s winning goal deflected off of Blues forward Kyle Brodziak. It was his third goal in his last four games.

    “You never know, when you throw pucks at the net, anything can happen,” Monahan said. “That’s a good bounce, a lucky bounce and we’ll take it.”

    Monahan set the Flames franchise record with the seventh regular-season overtime goal of his career. He also has seven career shootout winners.

    Flames coach Glen Gulutzan didn’t know what happened at first immediately after the game-winner.

    “I jumped when everybody else jumped and it was kind of like, I didn’t get the joke, right?” Gulutzan said. “Everybody got the joke, I didn’t. I just jumped because I saw everybody else jump. So now I’ve got to take a look at it now.”

    Ivan Barbashev and Jaden Schwartz scored for the Blues, who had their four-game winning streak snapped. Jake Allen made 28 saves and all three goals he gave up went off of teammates.

    “You feel bad for Jake when he played the way he did,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “If you give up three goals off your own guys, it means probably, for the most part, you’re doing a good job defensively. Some tough bounces there, but we got a point out of it.”

    The Blues fell one point behind Nashville for third in the Central Division with 86 points and eight games to go. St. Louis trails Calgary by two points for the top wild-card spot.

    The Flames snapped a two-game skid, salvaging the finale of a three-game road trip.

    “It was a quick-paced game and it was pretty physical and it was back and forth all night, but we feel good right now and we’re both fighting to stay in the playoffs and it was a big win for our team,” Monahan said.

    Schwartz gave the Blues a 2-1 lead at the 7:16 mark of the third period. The puck went off of Schwartz’s skate and the goal was upheld after a review.

    Bartkowski tied it at 10:53. It was the first goal in 17 games this season for the Flames defenseman.

    Brouwer’s power-play goal gave the Flames a 1-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first period. It snapped an 0-for-12 scoreless streak with the man advantage for Calgary.

    Elliott stopped all 13 shots in the opening frame, including two quality chances by Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo on a Blues power play.

    Elliott improved to 4-1 all-time against his former team, including a 2-0 mark this season.

    “I mean, obviously, you’d like to give up no goals there and I thought it was a blatant kicking motion (by Schwartz), but you’ve got to get points somehow in this league,” Elliott said. “It was big to solidify one point and then to go after the next one.”

    Barbashev tied it at the 8:08 mark of the second period. Colton Parayko‘s pass drew Elliott out of position and Barbashev, on his second try after his first was blocked by a Calgary defender, put the puck in the empty net.

    “After the first off the legs of the D or someone, I saw the puck was going back and I wasn’t for 100 percent sure that someone was going to be there, but I got lucky,” Barbashev said.

    Sharks coach DeBoer wasn’t happy with Jarnkrok hit that preceded Haley match penalty

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    San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer weighed in on Micheal Haley‘s sucker punch on Calle Jarnkrok in the third period of Saturday’s game.

    Haley was given a match penalty for the incident. He was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok and immediately retaliated, dropping the Nashville Predators forward with one punch as a melee ensued.

    Jarnkrok was penalized for boarding on the hit.

    DeBoer had an interesting take on the incident.

    “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” he told reporters.

    The Sharks have now lost six in a row, after a 7-2 defeat to the Predators. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche on Saturday, which puts San Jose into a three-way tie with Anaheim and Edmonton at 91 points for first place in the Pacific Division.

    In two games this weekend versus Dallas and Nashville, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.

    It gets worse.

    Per CSN Bay Area, forward Logan Couture was taken to the hospital after he took a puck to the mouth and lost a tooth late in the second period.

    “You can’t replace him, so it would be really tough,” said Patrick Marleau of Couture. “But if that is the case, then guys are going to have to pull up the slack. Definitely we hope he’s back sooner.”

    Babcock: ‘I don’t know the answer’ about status of injured goalie Andersen

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    Not only did the Toronto Maple Leafs lose in Buffalo on Saturday, but goalie Frederik Andersen left the game with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.

    Curtis McElhinney took over in net to begin the second period. He allowed three goals on 22 shots, as Buffalo busted this one wide open with three goals in the middle frame on the way to a 5-2 victory.

    Despite the loss, the Maple Leafs remain third in the Atlantic Division. But the Andersen injury is definitely a concerning development as Toronto looks to accelerate its rebuild by qualifying for the post-season.

    Head coach Mike Babcock didn’t provide an update on Andersen following the game. But he did drop one little tidbit of information that has led to speculation about the possible nature of the injury.

    From the Toronto Sun:

    The suspicion was that Andersen has suffered a concussion or a shoulder injury, though coach Mike Babcock had no update.

    “I can’t really tell you because I don’t know the answer,” Babcock said.

    “The other team’s doctor thought he should come out of the game so he came out of the game. Once our doctors see him (on Sunday), I will have a better handle on what is going on and I will be able to tell you.

    It’s not exactly clear when or how the injury occurred, but possibilities have been discussed. Here’s one example:

    Video: Haley given match penalty for sucker punch, Sharks lose sixth straight

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    Things continue to snowball out of control for the San Jose Sharks.

    The Sharks lost their sixth consecutive game after yet another blowout defeat, this time by a final score of 7-2 versus the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Forward Logan Couture lost a tooth after taking a puck to the face in the second period.

    And late in the game, Micheal Haley was given a match penalty for an incident involving Calle Jarnkrok.

    The Sharks forward is now automatically suspended until commissioner Gary Bettman reviews the incident.

    This incident occurred when Haley was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok. Haley then got up, sped right toward the Predators forward, dropped his gloves and delivered a punch to Jarnkrok as he tried to back away, knocking him to the ice.

    Jarnkrok was given a minor penalty for boarding.

    Haley was also involved in a fight with Cody McLeod early in the first period.

    This has been a particularly shocking, if not embarrassing stretch for the Sharks. In a two-game trip to Dallas and Nashville, against teams below them in the standings, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.

    Martin Jones allowed seven goals on 34 shots faced.

    If Edmonton wins tonight, the Sharks, Ducks and Oilers will be in a three-way tie for first place in the Pacific Division.

    Related: What is wrong with the Sharks?