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Capitals and Penguins officially announce Winter Classic alumni game rosters

We’ve been getting little hints as of late over who will be  playing in the 2011 Winter Classic alumni game set to take place at Heinz Field on December 31. The Penguins let us know that Super Mario will suit up for them and the Capitals sending Peter Bondra and a cast of mostly unknown Caps from the past.

Today, the rosters were made official and, if you’re the type to gamble on such fun events we first ask you to seek help and then we also say that even money is on the Penguins to run away with a win considering who they’re trotting out for the game. The Penguins will be sending these former players and coaches out to take out the Capitals. Straight from the press release:

Hall of Famers Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and Larry Murphy will join Mario Lemieux on the Penguins’ roster, while two alumni rookies – Gary Roberts and Billy Guerin – will add some much-needed “youth” to the team.

Other alums playing for the Penguins include Phil Bourque, Rob Brown, Rod Buskas, Jay Caufield, Bob Errey, Dave Hannan, Francois Leroux, Troy Loney, Greg Malone, Gilles Meloche, Craig Simpson, Frank Pietrangelo, Gary Rissling, Rick Tocchet, Kevin Stevens and Warren Young.

Eddie Johnston, Pierre Larouche and Randy Hillier will coach the Penguins, and Jack Riley – the team’s original general manager in 1967 – will serve as GM.

No Tom Barrasso, no problem since most of the big hitters from the Penguins 1990s Cup teams are there. Also there are a few of Mario Lemieux’s running mates who saw their best seasons playing along side 66. With Warren Young there, he’s our odds on favorite now to score 40 goals just in this game as long as he plays on the wing with Mario.

Seeing Guerin and Roberts join the likes of Kevin Stevens and Rick Tocchet is an incredible mashup of “old” and new. I don’t dare call Stevens and Tocchet old because, well, I grew up watching them and I’m not about to call myself old.

As for the Capitals, their squad is still a bit underwhelming but still fun to check out.

Bondra, a 500-goal scorer in his NHL career, leads the Caps’ roster, which also includes Michal Pivonka, Scott Walker, Sylvain Cote, Greg Adams, Don Beaupre, Alan Hanglesben, Nick Kypreos, Yvon Labre, Gord Lane, Craig Laughlin, Mark Lofthouse, Denis Maruk, Alan May, Paul Mulvey, Robert Picard, Errol Rausse, Pat Ribble, Ken Sabourin and Blair Stewart.  Others may be added in the coming days.

All right, so it’s a bit of a letdown after seeing all the legendary names the Penguins are bringing. It’s disappointing to not see names like Mike Gartner, Olaf Kolzig, Dale Hunter,  and Calle Johanssen but it’s great to see 90s nostalgic names like Pivonka, Cote, Kypreos, and Beaupre though. Adding this game to the schedule of events surrounding the Winter Classic is a great idea and works beautifully to take advantage of having the rink on Heinz Field. We can only hope they continue to do this each year.

Backes scores OT goal on his birthday, Blues even up series with Stars

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The St. Louis Blues won’t be thrilled with the way they played in the third period, but in the end, they did just enough to come away with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2. The Blues’ win means that the series will head to St. Louis tied 1-1.

The Stars opened the scoring in the first period, but the Blues responded by scoring three unanswered goals (Patrik Berglund, Joel Edmundson, Troy Brouwer) on five shots. Stars coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from starter Kari Lehtonen at that point. He yanked Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi at the start of the second period.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but things got crazy in the third.

With his team still trailing 3-1, Mattias Janmark split Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko before scoring a great goal.

Moments after Janmark’s goal, Brian Elliott took a Jason Spezza blast off the mask. Elliott was shaken up on the play (he even lost one of his contact lenses), but he did stay in the game.

Stars captain Jamie Benn (surprise, surprise) leveled the score by burying a goal by Brian Elliott with under three minutes in regulation.

Like they did during their first round series against Chicago, the Blues took some time to regroup before finding a way to get the job done.

The Blues’ power play went back to work after Antoine Roussel took his third penalty of the game. That’s when the birthday boy, David Backes, came through.

That’s a nice way to celebrate your 32nd birthday.

Game 3 goes Tuesday night in St. Louis.

 

Jamie Benn’s late goal sends Game 2 to overtime

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This definitely wasn’t the way the St. Louis Blues drew it up.

The Blues entered the third period of Game 2 with a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shut the game down on the road.

St. Louis jumped ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes before Dallas decided to pull Kari Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi. The move didn’t provide any results in the middle frame, but something certainly sparked the Stars in the third period.

Mattias Janmark cut the deficit to 3-2 with this beauty (notice how he split Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo).

With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Stars captain Jamie Benn tied it up (top).

It’s safe to say this wasn’t a memorable third period for the Blues.

Video: Brian Elliott takes a blast off the mask, stays in the game

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A bit of a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 between the Stars and Blues.

Less than five minutes into the third period, Jason Spezza took a shot that caught Blues goalie Brian Elliott square in the mask. Play was halted as Elliott remained down. It appears as though the shot to the mask also made Elliott lose one of his contacts.

Thankfully, Elliott wasn’t seriously injured on the play. After being examined by the team doctor, he was allowed to stay into the game. He did need a new mask though (he got his original one back a few minutes later).

You can watch the play by clicking the video at the top of the page.

The Blues currently lead 3-2 late in the third period.

Here’s some Twitter reaction:

 

Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

Lehtonen
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Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.