Riding the Zamboni – Friday, November 19th (early edition)

Let’s take a look at the first five of Friday’s nine games. The rest of the contests will be summarized tomorrow morning.

Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 4 (SO)

Since this is just a regular season game, I don’t expect a ton of controversy to come from the league (or the game’s officials) decision to allow Chris Kunitz’s goal. Thankfully, the game didn’t rest on that choice, as Jussi Jokinen tied the game up 4-4 before the Penguins won the shootout thanks to goals by Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.

Crosby had one goal and three assists plus the shorthanded tally, Jokinen scored two goals and two assists, Kunitz had two goals and Evgeni Malkin assisted on three goals in that game.

Atlanta 5, Washington 0

Things came full circle for Ondrej Pavelec tonight, as he shut out the team he played against during that crazy collapsing incident. It was an important win for the collective psyche of the Thrashers, too, after coach Craig Ramsay called out the team after a recent loss.

Buffalo 4, Los Angeles 2

It seems like the Sabres are starting to put things together a bit now, while the Kings are now on a troubling three game losing streak. Ryan Miller seems like he’s rounding back into form after coming back from injury. Miller stopped 34 out of 36 shots to help Buffalo beat Los Angeles tonight, as the Sabres scored three unanswered goals to come back from a 2-1 deficit.

Minnesota 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

The Minnesota Wild are on a bit of a hot streak now – winning six out of their last eight games – but beating the Red Wings in Detroit (they’re now 8-1-2 at home) might be the highlight of their season so far. Jose Theodore had a great night, stopping 41 out of 44 shots while John Madden scored the game winner with 42 seconds left in overtime.

St. Louis 5, Ottawa 2

Things were going pretty badly for the Blues, but the struggling Senators were just the right tonic. The Blues went back to what made them a surprise elite team in October: great defense (backup goalie Ty Conklin faced only 20 shots, stopping 18) and scoring by committee (five different players scored their goals). Really, St. Louis won the game in an 86 second span in which they scored three times.

Blues, Capitals to play exhibition game in Kansas City

Pedestrians walk past the Sprint Center, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. The city was preparing for the third round of the NCAA college basketball tournament at the arena after the region received 6-10 inches of snow overnight. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Kansas City is going to host another NHL exhibition game.

The St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ll take on the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 at Sprint Center. Both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Ovechkin will be there, at least according to the press release.

The Blues last played in K.C. a couple of years ago when they took on the Stars in exhibition play. In 2011, a sellout crowd watched the Penguins and Kings at Sprint Center.

A market once considered a candidate for expansion or relocation — particularly after Sprint Center opened in 2007 — the NHL-to-Kansas City buzz has since died down. Last year, there was no interest from Kansas City when the league called for expansion applications.

Sensing an opportunity to make their team a favorite of all Missourians, not just the ones in St. Louis, the Blues have said they’d like to cultivate their fan base across the state in Kansas City.

Report: Pens won’t make Fleury (talks too much) available to media

at Pepsi Center on December 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
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Don’t expect many updates on Marc-Andre Fleury‘s health over the next little while.

Well — don’t expect them to come from Fleury, anyway.

Per TVA Sports, Fleury has been shut down from speaking with reporters until he’s fully recovered from the concussion that’s sidelined him since Apr. 2.

A translation of Renaud Lavioe’s piece for TVA, per PHT’s Joey Alfieri:

Fleury practiced with his teammates this morning at the Verizon Center.

What I can tell you is he’s feeling better, but the Penguins have decided not to make Fleury available to the media because he says too much.

The next time Fleury talks to the media, it’s because he’ll be ready to return.

Not to be mean, but Matt Murray has given up three goals or more in back-to-back games.

Earlier this week, Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that — despite participating in on-ice workouts — he’s still dealing with concussion symptoms.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been through,” he explained. “Some good days, when you think you’re back, and some bad days, when you think it’s never going to get fixed.”

The Fleury situation seems to have rankled some within the Penguins organization — like head coach Mike Sullivan, who took issue with questions about the club’s handling of Fleury.

Here’s a related series of tweets from DKonPittsburghSports’ Josh Yohe:

Game 2 of the Pens-Caps series goes tomorrow from Verizon at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Matt Murray, who allowed four goals on 35 shots in the Game 1 loss, is expected to start in goal.

North Dakota loses another d-man as Kings sign LaDue

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 09:  Paul LaDue #6 of North Dakota skates against the Boston University Terriers during the second period of the 2015 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship semifinals at TD Garden on April 9, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Keaton Thompson, Troy Stecher and now, Paul LaDue.

On Friday, the Kings announced that LaDue — the junior d-man that helped North Dakota win the Frozen Four — agreed to a one-year, entry-level deal, forgoing his senior season in the process.

LaDue, 23, was part of a talented UND blueline that also featured fellow juniors Troy Stecher — who since signed with Vancouver — and Thompson, who inked with the Ducks.

So yeah, bit of an exodus.

Thankfully for North Dakota, freshman scoring sensation Brock Boeser has already committed to returning for his sophomore campaign, while junior defenseman Gage Ausmus — a San Jose draftee — vowed to go back to school as well.

As for Frozen Four MOP Drake Caggiula — a senior that was already leaving school — he’s already begun his tour of interested NHL suitors.

Per TSN, Caggiula has shortlisted six clubs: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary

Wilson hit

No suspension for Capitals forward Tom Wilson. Only a fine.

That’s what the NHL’s Department of Player Safety decided after Wilson kneed Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary last night in Washington.

The fine of $2,403.67 is the maximum allowable under the CBA, and, at the very least, it puts Wilson on official notice.

Wilson was not penalized on the play, and Sheary was able to leave the ice under his own power and remain in the game.

“We’re just going to play hockey, and the refs are going to call it the way they see it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters afterwards. “Our guys are going to play.”

This morning, Capitals coach Barry Trotz reportedly said of the play, “It was OK, but it wasn’t I would say necessary.”