Ilya Kovalchuk didn't make a 'cutthroat' motion toward Sean Avery

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kovalchukavery.jpgOne of the stranger stories that took place during last night’s surprisingly jam-packed night of interesting preseason action came during a heated exchange between Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils and Sean Avery of the New York Rangers.

Some people – including Rangers GM Glen Sather – wondered if Kovalchuk made a “cutthroat” motion toward Avery, a gesture that earned Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton an opening night suspension. Kovalchuk was adamant that he was making a (Dr. Evil inspired?) motion for Avery to “zip it,” which is the equivalent to asking water to dry off a bit.

Click here for a clip of the gesture to see for yourself.

Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice has the story.

“I just told him to zip it,” Kovalchuk said after the Devils’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Rangers tonight. “I didn’t tell him I will kill him, so don’t suspend me.”

Rangers coach John Tortorella confirmed that Kovalchuk made a “zip your lip” motion and Avery himself said Kovalchuk should not be suspended for whatever gesture he made.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I saw the whole thing,” Tortorella said. “It was just shut your mouth. There was no slash.”

Say what you will about Sean Avery, the guy can create some entertaining exchanges, especially when it comes to the Rangers’ rivals in New Jersey. Larry Brooks of the New York Post gets Avery’s side of the story.

Avery said he didn’t care what was said or what gesture was made.

“I don’t think anyone should be suspended for what they say,” he said.

But Avery said referee Paul Devorksi told him that he had gotten his 10-minute misconduct for going after a superstar.

“He specifically told me I got it because [Kovalchuk] is a superstar, and I can’t go after a superstar,” Avery said of the dialog that took place in the box with 9:07 to go in the second. “I told him I make $4 million. I’m a superstar, too.”

Oh, Sean, you scamp. It’s a bit ridiculous that this is a story, but the Boynton suspension sets a precedent of hand motions leading to suspensions. Considering some of the things that are said on the ice, it’s kind of ridiculous that non-verbal communication will earn you a spot in the press box, but why would the league begin to use logic in its suspensions when throwing darts blindfolded is so much more fun?

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”