Jaroslav Halak's farewell autograph session raises $22K for Montreal charity

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jaroslavhalakcharity.jpgJaroslav Halak will never get a chance to produce an encore performance with the Montreal Canadiens after he impressively lead the team’s run to the Eastern Conference finals. You cannot blame some Habs fans for getting a little attached to the goalie who seemed impregnable through two rounds of the playoffs against the Penguins and Capitals, the two teams who were considered the upper crust of the conference.

The team decided to spend its money on the likes of Tomas Plekanec and Carey Price instead of Halak, so he had to say goodbye. On the bright side, Halak decided to do so while also benefiting charity, and Habs Inside/Out shares the fact that his autograph session raised $22,000.

Jaroslav Halak raised an estimated $22,000 for Ste. Justine Children’s Hospital Saturday, signing 1,100 autographs over a period of roughly three hours.

Halak’s circus-like appearance at La Capsule Sportive in Montreal-suburban Pointe-Claire attracted an estimated 5,000 fans. But even signing furiously at a rate of about six autographs per minute, his 3 1/2-hour appearance also including media interviews, Halak could sign for “only” 1,100 over three hours. He met thousands of fans on his way out of the mall when security asked him to pack it in 30 minutes after the mall closed, 90 minutes after the scheduled end of the signing session.

Halak will spend a couple of days in Montreal, wrapping up some personal affairs, before flying to St. Louis midweek. He’ll formally meet the St. Louis Blues ownership group on Wednesday and be introduced to that city’s media at a Thursday news conference.

It’s great to hear about charitable events, and it seems like the St. Louis Blues have quite the generous goalie duo (see: Ty Conklin riding a tandem bike to raise money).

Who knows if Halak will be able to make good on his outstanding postseason performance, but at least he seems like a solid guy. Then again, you can’t blame him for feeling pretty charitable after he seemingly received the only decent deal of any goalie who didn’t go Russia this summer, inking a four-year, $15 million deal.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.