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Report: St. Louis Blues might look to trade for Alex Kovalev in early 2011

When you have an aging (37 years old) forward who is as enigmatic and expensive ($5 million annual cap hit) as Alexei Kovalev is, it’s not surprising that he’s under serious media scrutiny. Once you combine those factors with the locations of his last two stays (in hockey-mad Montreal and now Ottawa) and his expiring contract, it’s almost natural that he’s under a microscope right now.

The first round of rumors highlighted the possibility of Kovalev returning to the Montreal Canadiens, but now that those random bits of scuttlebutt dissolved, the Ottawa media needs some other team to focus on.

Enter the bruised and battered St. Louis Blues. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports that the team might be interested in trading for Kovalev once their ownership situation gets cleared up a bit in early 2011.

The reason for Garrioch’s anonymous source-based assumptions is somewhat reasonable; after all, the Blues are wounded with David Perron, Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie on the shelf.

Though he has denied making a trade request to Senators GM Bryan Murray, judging by the 37-year-old winger’s comments Friday about Clouston, it would appear Kovalev wouldn’t mind getting dealt.

“The Blues need forward help … badly,” said a league executive Saturday.

How bad?

The battered and beaten Blues are without injured LW David Perron, C T.J. Oshie, C Andy McDonald and D Roman Polak. But they can’t make a move until their ownership situation is settled.

Sources say there is an investor ready to put more money into the Blues. That won’t happen until Jan. 1 for tax purposes, which means the club can’t afford to take on the rest of Kovalev’s $5-million (all terms US) salary for now.

So take these rumors with the typical grain of salt. The Blues are without some vital players and could always use a little finesse to go with their big, burly group of forwards. Still, $5 million is a steep price for a hit-or-miss scorer like Kovalev, even if the Senators have paid some of that salary already.

As always, we’ll keep you up to date as the rumors keep streaming in … and maybe even get a legitimate trade to report upon at some point too.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.