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: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final

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Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.

For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.

The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.

San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.

Canucks trade Jared McCann to the Panthers for Erik Gudbranson

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Jared McCann #91 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.

As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.

Here are the details:

McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.

The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.

One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.

Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.

The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.

 

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

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It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.

Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.

(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)

Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.

“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.

“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday