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Alex Radulov signs ‘secret’ contract extension to stay in KHL until he turns 27

It’s been long enough that any dreams Nashville Predators fans had about Alex Radulov returning to the team are probably long forgotten. If they weren’t totally erased a few months ago, it seems just about official that he won’t play as a Predator ever again.

That’s because the talented Russian winger will ply his trade in Russia for two more seasons after the 2010-11 expires, as Radulov reportedly signed a two-year extension with Salavat Yulaef of the KHL. Radulov made that decision rather than flirting with an NHL return because he was worried about returning to the NHL before the league signs a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to a story by Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy. In other words, Radulov wanted protection from a possible lockout.

Here’s what Radulov’s Russian agent Yuri Nikolaev said about Radulov’s chances of returning to the NHL, which was obviously pushed back even farther out into the future.

When Radulov’s contract in the KHL expires, he will be 27 years old. Nikolaev said that both the player and his agent held that number in mind when Radulov signed his extension, hoping that if Radulov does come back to the NHL, he will be considered a free agent. But for now, Radulov is staying in the KHL for the next three years.

It’s a shame for North American hockey fans that we must miss out on a fairly impressive talent in Radulov, who was just getting used to the NHL during his brief stint with the Predators. Yet, at 27, he would still have a few more prime years left if he did decide to return, so you never know.

My guess is that he won’t be greeted too warmly in Nashville, though.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.