SJ Sharks GM Doug Wilson fires down Antti Niemi, Owen Nolan rumors

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for finiemi.jpgNow that the San Jose Sharks lost out to the Los Angeles Kings in the Willie Mitchell Sweepstakes, the rumors switch back to former captain Owen Nolan and Cup winning goalie Antti Niemi. Great Sharks beat writer David Pollak shot down both rumors in a post tonight.

2) Never say never, but do not expect to see Owen Nolan back with the Sharks this season. Just not going to happen, says a front-office source.

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In recent years with Calgary and Minnesota, Nolan seems to take particular delight in scoring against the Sharks – the team that traded him to Toronto in 2003 – and you might think his performance against San Jose might be reason enough for the Sharks to re-sign him, even at age 38. But the Sharks say they believe they’ve got prospects – think Cam Macintyre or maybe Tommy Wingels – ready to step into the role Nolan would occupy at this point in his career and seem determined to go that route.

3) Again, never say never, but though the Sharks continue to be cited in some circles as a logical place for Blackhawk castoff Antti Niemi to land, sources insist that won’t be happening, that an all-Finnish goalie tandem of Niemi and Antero Niittymaki is not part of the plan.

“We made our move on our goaltender,” has been general manager Doug Wilson’s standard response when the question comes up.

Both rumors make at least some sense, though.

I’d imagine if there was a good fit for Niemi in a “Put in one more good year to make more money next year” kind of way, it would be the always-close-but-not-quite-there Sharks. The common question is: “Are they really going to trust their goalie situation to Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Griess?” Yet Doug Wilson seems quite comfortably laying in that netminding bed.

Nolan seems like a lower risk, lower reward type move. While both are likely to need to settle for a short term, low-money contract, Nolan would only occupy a low priority bottom-six forward spot rather than the most pivotal position in the game.

Regardless, Wilson prefers cheaper players in net and younger players in the bottom six. If he does decide to change course, though, we’ll be sure to let you know.

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    By winning fifth straight, Caps extend Wild’s slump to seven losses

    Minnesota Wild’s Jared Spurgeon,right, keeps Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin of Russia occupied near the net in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 19, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the second period for his 14th career hat trick, and the Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday night.

    Ovechkin, who leads the league with 34 goals, has 13 in his past 13 games. Nicklas Backstrom had three assists and Jason Chimera added an empty-netter for Washington, which improved to a league-best 20-5-2 on the road.

    Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals, who won their fifth consecutive game and became the first team to reach 40 victories this season.

    Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild, but Minnesota lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games (1-10-2). Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for the Wild, who have lost seven in a row at home (0-4-3).

    Ovechkin’s third goal, which deflected off both the post and the back of Dubnyk into the net, was upheld following a coach’s challenge. Wild coach Mike Yeo challenged that the puck had left the zone for offsides, but the call stood after a review showed that Backstrom stopped the puck before it crossed the blue line.

    The goal gave Ovechkin his first hat trick since he scored four goals against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10, 2013.

    It wasn’t the only fortunate bounce for Ovechkin on the night, and the five-time 50-goal scorer capitalized on each opportunity.

    A shot from T.J. Oshie deflected off of Minnesota forward Zach Parise across the ice right to Ovechkin in the left faceoff circle and Ovechkin quickly snapped off a shot to beat Dubnyk, who couldn’t get across the crease to get into position. Three minutes later, Ovechkin scored on the power play when a point shot bounced off the end boards right to Ovechkin in front of the net.

    The tally provided some relief for the Capitals’ surprisingly ineffective power play. Washington had one power play in its previous six games, an empty-netter for the only goal in its previous 20 power-play chances. The Capitals were 1 of 5 on the power play on Thursday.

    Coyle scored for the fifth time in eight games in the second, but second periods have doomed the Wild during their slump. Minnesota has been outscored 13-3 in the period in five straight losses.

    Suter scored his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third as Minnesota went 1 of 5 with the man advantage.

    NOTES: Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov left in the third period after he was hit in the face by the stick of Mikael Granlund off a faceoff. … Backstrom has 20 points in his last 17 games. … Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon missed his second straight game with an unspecified deep bruise. Spurgeon has returned to practice, but was held out again. … Holtby is 27-1-3 in his last 31 games with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

    Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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    Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

    The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

    Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

    CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

    The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

    Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick helps him make more history

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    Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

    OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

    It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

    (He also passed Jean Beliveau for 39th all-time in goals with his 509th, as NHL.com notes.)

    This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

    One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

    Update: Minnesota managed three goals, but it wasn’t enough, as Washington got the edge 4-3.

    Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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    Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

    At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

    “I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

    As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

    Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

    The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.