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NHL hands down punishment for Islanders-Penguins brawl; Three suspended, Isles fined $100K

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After the ugliness that erupted on Long Island between the Islanders and Penguins that saw 346 penalty minutes between the two teams, it was time for Colin Campbell to hand down his decision on punishment for the participants on each team for their part in the mess that brought about a night of chaos.

The league suspended Penguins forward Eric Godard for 10 games for leaving the bench to intercede in a fight between Penguins goalie Brent Johnson and Islanders forward Micheal Haley. The Islanders will lose the services of Trevor Gillies for nine games for his vicious and disgusting elbow on Penguins forward Eric Tangradi and Matt Martin for four games for his sucker punch on Max Talbot. The Islanders were also fined $100,000 for their role in the unbelievable scene that erupted at Nassau Coliseum.

Colin Campbell issued his comments on why he ruled on matters the way he did and took the Islanders to task for their role in the festivities.

“The actions by the Islanders’ Gillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves,” said Campbell. “The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension.

“With respect to the Godard suspension, there can be no circumstance that allows for a player to leave his bench for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate.

“The Islanders also must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players,” Campbell added.

Campbell is right about the Islanders bearing some responsibility for what they do, but the league had to take a stand on what Gillies did to Tangradi. Actions like that are indefensible and thoroughly wrong. Giving Gillies nine games to think about what he did would make sense for a player that plays consistently, but Gillies has suited up in just 32 games this year and earned 109 penalty minutes.

Gillies is not an offensive player nor is he there for defensive purposes. His one and only role is to fight and when enforcers cross the line between sticking up for teammates and being violent thugs on the ice, the book has to be thrown at them. The catch there is how do you appropriately take action against a player that the team won’t miss? That’s where the fine against the Islanders comes into play.

Hitting a team for $100,000 in their wallet sends the message the organization needs to learn. Sure you could make the argument that Isles owner Charles Wang doesn’t care about money with his buyouts for Alexei Yashin and the 15-year contract for Rick DiPietro, but hitting him for a players actions in a single game might help teach Wang and coach Jack Capuano what the right way to go about seeking retribution for a bad hit is.

In this case, taking the law into your own hands by calling up goons from the AHL to incite a virtual on-ice riot is the wrong way to do it. Isles GM Garth Snow and all the players might’ve been anxious to get redemption for Talbot’s hit on Blake Comeau, but going about it this way is not the way to make it happen. A 9-3 victory over a depleted Penguins team should’ve been enough but instead the Islanders wanted blood and got it and now they’ll pay. It won’t be enough to keep Penguins fans and hockey fans in general pleased, but it’s a sound message from the league that taking the law into your own hands won’t be tolerated.

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.

Video: Orpik penalized after catching Maatta with late, high hit

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The Pittsburgh Penguins were without defenseman Olli Maatta for most of the first period of Game 2 after he was on the receiving end of a high, late hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.

The hit occurred early in the first period, well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck on a rush into the Washington zone.

Maatta, who nearly fell over as he tried to stand back up, was in obvious distress as he went to the dressing room. Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference on the play.

Shanahan: Leafs earned No. 1 pick ‘the hard way’

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It’s been 31 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs had the No. 1 overall pick at the draft.

And, to hear team president Brendan Shanahan explain it, getting back to that top spot wasn’t easy — on anybody.

“We earned this the hard way,” Shanahan told Sportsnet on Saturday, moments after winning the draft lottery. “It wasn’t a whole lot of fun this year, but our guys and our coaching staff and our management staff did a lot of really good things here in Toronto.

“This [the No. 1 overall pick] will certainly help.”

It’s easy to see why optimism is high within the organization.

The last time Toronto had the No. 1 pick it selected Wendel Clark, who went on to become a revered player. He played for the Leafs on three separate occasions, served as team captain and now works for the organization in a public relations and community ambassador role.

This year, the opportunity to make a similar impact is there.

Auston Matthews, viewed as the odds-on favorite to go first overall, possesses the elite-level talent that could turn a franchise around. And there are few teams in more need of a turn than Toronto — as Shanahan alluded to, this was a very difficult year, as the Leafs finished dead last in the standings and were the only NHL club not to crack the 30-win plateau.

Part of that was by design. The Leafs dealt away Phil Kessel prior to the season, Dion Phaneuf during it and jettisoned a host of other productive players: James Reimer, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, Daniel Winnik and Shawn Matthias, to name a few.

By the end of the year, the Leafs were a mishmash of AHLers, spare parts and a few future pieces.

Speaking of the future…

Assuming the Leafs go the Matthews route, it’s expected he’ll make an immediate impact on the lineup. TSN already has him penciled in as the No. 2 center — playing the middle on a line with the club’s other top prospect, William Nylander — and Matthews’ head coach in Switzerland this season, Marc Crawford, used L.A. Kings star Anze Kopitar as a potential comparison.

Of course, there is a chance Matthews isn’t the pick.

Finnish sensation Patrick Laine has been making waves recently, thanks in large part to capturing SM-liiga playoff MVP honors this week. Laine has the kind of goalscoring ability and booming shot that would translate well — and, immediately — to the NHL level, though he is a winger.

Not a center, like Matthews.

Regardless of who the Leafs pick, this much is clear — they bottomed out this season with the intention of getting a high draft pick and, while the process was very painful at times, everything worked out in the end.

“When you have an opportunity to pick first overall, it’s an important moment for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s an important moment for our fans,” Shanahan explained. “Our ownership group has given us the support to do this build the right way.”

Tank you very much: Leafs win NHL Draft Lottery, retain No. 1 overall pick

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from worst to first.

The Leafs finished dead last in the NHL’s overall standings, giving them the best odds of winning Saturday’s draft lottery. And when the big show ended, Toronto had landed that top pick for the draft on June 24.

Outside of Toronto, the biggest winner Saturday had to be the Winnipeg Jets. They entered the day with the sixth best odds of getting the top pick at just 7.5 per cent. They were able to move all the way up to the second overall pick, which could certainly land them a franchise player and one that could definitely be ready to make the jump into the NHL next season.

The biggest loser? You could definitely argue it was the Vancouver Canucks. They finished 28th in the overall standings, giving them an 11.5 per cent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. But they fell all the way to fifth.

The Edmonton Oilers? Well, they didn’t win. Had they won the lottery, it would’ve given them the first overall pick for the fifth time in seven years.

Here is the 2016 draft order:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs
  2. Winnipeg Jets
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets
  4. Edmonton Oilers
  5. Vancouver Canucks
  6. Calgary Flames
  7. Arizona Coyotes
  8. Buffalo Sabres
  9. Montreal Canadiens
  10. Colorado Avalanche
  11. New Jersey Devils
  12. Ottawa Senators
  13. Carolina Hurricanes
  14. Boston Bruins

Now that the order is set, who will go No. 1, 2 and 3 in that opening round?

Auston Matthews has long held the title as the top-ranked player heading into this draft. But there’s been increasing chatter that Finnish winger Patrik Laine has at least closed the gap between him and Matthews for that first overall selection, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.

Meanwhile, fellow Finnish forward Jesse Puljujärvi likely rounds out the top three, following a sensational showing at the 2016 World Junior Championships.