Columbus Blue Jackets v Detroit Red Wings

Riding the Zamboni – February 4th; Pittsburgh comes back to win, Columbus shuts out Detroit

Columbus 3 – Detroit 0

Every now and again Steve Mason reminds us why he was the rookie of the year two seasons ago. Tonight was that night as Mason stopped 34 shots to earn his second shutout of the year. Mason was backed up by goals from Antoine Vermette, Jared Boll, and an empty netter from Andrew Murray as the Blue Jackets snapped a two-game skid. For Detroit, Jimmy Howard stopped 21 shots in the loss. Vermette and Murray finished the game with two points each.

Pittsburgh 3 – Buffalo 2

Buffalo jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals by Paul Gaustad and Mike Grier, but as the Penguins have been doing with Sidney Crosby out of the lineup, they fight back and that’s what they did in the second period. Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy, and Matt Cooke each scored in a span of 3:14 to give Pittsburgh a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Ryan Miller did all he could to keep Buffalo in it stopping 36 shots, but Marc-Andre Fleury would take home the win after making 27 saves. Evgeni Malkin’s first game back to action was a short one as he left the game in the second period with a lower body injury. The win is the Penguins fifth in a row and they’ll head to Washington on Sunday for their afternoon showdown on NBC with the Capitals.

Washington 5 – Tampa Bay 2

Florida 4 – New Jersey 3 (F/OT)

Florida’s been snake bitten by fluke goals and funny bounces all year and they saw their fair share of those tonight against the Devils. Tonight, though, they were able to overcome all that and earn an overtime win thanks to Rostislav Olesz’s goal in the extra session. Tomas Vokoun saw two odd hops off the boards lead to Devils goals by Travis Zajac and Jason Arnott and a floating knuckler of a shot by Mark Fayne to get by him to make the Panthers believe if they didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have any luck at all. Vokoun was strong otherwise though stopping 28 shots. Chris Higgins, Dennis Wideman, and Mike Santorelli would score for Florida in regulation. Johan Hedberg stopped just 25 shots in the loss for New Jersey.

Vancouver 4 – Chicago 3

St. Louis 5 – Edmonton 3

At one point, St. Louis held a 4-1 lead on the Oilers thanks to goals from T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Matt D’Agostini, and Brad Boyes but the Oilers would sum up their pride and bounce back after goals by Taylor Hall and Theo Peckham to cut the lead to 4-3. Ty Conklin would make sure it held up though as he held off the Oilers the rest of the way making 29 saves in all to earn the win in a surprise start as Jaroslav Halak was out with a minor injury. Devan Dubnyk had a rough night saving just 21 shots for the Oilers.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.