Riding the Zamboni – March 2; Ducks get OT penalty shot victory, Chicago wins sixth in a row

Anaheim 2 – Detroit 1 (F/OT)

A tightly officiated game was decided in the rarest of ways as Bobby Ryan’s overtime penalty shot goal put the Ducks over the Red Wings. Ruslan Salei was busted for hauling Ryan down on a breakaway and the mistake cost his team the game. Some may debate how legit of a trip it was, but Salei’s error helped keep the Ducks in the running out west. Detroit will kick themselves for going 1-9 on the power play in this game. Pavel Datsyuk’s 20th goal of the season was the Wings sole offense while Jason Blake tied the game up early in the third with his 12th goal. Dan Ellis was stellar in goal stopping 28 shots for the win. Jimmy Howard stopped 26 in the loss.

New Jersey 2 – Tampa Bay 1

The Devils continue to lurk in the East as they try to comeback from an epic hole in the standings to make the playoffs and it’s Ilya Kovalchuk that’s helping lead the charge. Kovalchuk’s 22nd goal of the year midway through the third period put the Devils ahead 2-1 where Martin Brodeur would hold down the fort making just 15 saves on the game to earn the win. The Lightning jumped ahead in the first on Dominic Moore’s power play goal, his 11th of the year, but Henrik Tallinder tied it up in the second with his fourth goal of the year. The win puts New Jersey nine points behind Carolina for the eighth spot in the East. The problem for them is that the teams between them and Carolina also are winning as well. The next seven games for New Jersey look very advantageous for them to keep rolling along though. Buckle up.

Toronto 3 – Pittsburgh 2 (F/OT)

NY Islanders 4 – Minnesota 1

It was a game the Wild sorely needed and they came out as flat as it gets. Blake Comeau scored twice for the Islanders, the second of which came 41 seconds into the second period chasing Wild starter Niklas Backstrom from the game after making it 3-0. Jose Theodore would relieve him and give up one more goal to Andrew MacDonald to make it 4-0. All in all the Islanders peppered Wild goalies with 41 shots on the night to earn the win. John Madden’s 10th goal of the year midway through the third period spoiled the shutout chance for Al Montoya who finished with 33 saves and the win for New York.

Chicago 6 – Calgary 4

Make it six in a row for Chicago as they once again rode Jonathan Toews coattails to victory. Toews scored two goals while Michal Frolik had a goal and two assists to lead the Hawks to victory. Rene Bourque tried to keep Calgary in it scoring two goals of his own, but the Blackhawks were able to rise to fourth in the Western Conference with the win. Just two weeks ago, Chicago was sitting outside of the playoffs and now they’re in a position to have home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago was able to chase Miikka Kiprusoff from the game on the heels of him pitching two straight shutouts against St. Louis. With how things are going in the West this year, these two could be destined for a first round match-up in the playoffs.

Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

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Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

From The Tennessean:

Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.

Flames re-sign RFA goalies Gillies and Rittich

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The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Saturday.

Both spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League, but did get in some game action with the big club in Calgary. The 23-year-old Gillies, the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in 39 games with the Stockton Heat, posting a .910 save percentage.

He then made his first career NHL start on April 6 against the L.A. Kings and stopped 27 of 28 shots faced for the win. He then began the playoffs as Calgary’s back-up because of an injury to Chad Johnson.

Rittich made his debut two days later, allowing one goal on 10 shots in 20 minutes of ice time versus San Jose.

The Flames have already taken care of their goaltending situation at the NHL level for next season, bringing in Mike Smith from Arizona and Eddie Lack from Carolina.

Columnist: Potential new Hurricanes owner concerned with ‘revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market’

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The Carolina Hurricanes may have a potential new owner in Chuck Greenberg, the former CEO of the MLB Texas Rangers who also had interest in the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

A report Friday goes into further details about Greenberg’s motivation in purchasing the Hurricanes from Peter Karmanos, who has been exploring a sale of the team for quite some time now.

Previous reports indicate the agreement between the Hurricanes and Greenberg would keep the club in Raleigh, amid ages of speculation it may be a candidate for possible relocation to markets like Seattle or Quebec City.

From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Interviews with people close to Greenberg and others who have knowledge of the proposed purchase but requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks paint a picture of a front man who would be deeply concerned with the fan experience and revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market, but lacking the money to fund the purchase himself and reliant on a group of investors to get the deal done.

If the deal goes through, at a reported price of $500 million that likely includes a large amount of assumed debt while valuing the actual franchise closer to $300 million, Greenberg would move to Raleigh with the intention of making the team work here. That’s what Hurricanes fans long afraid of a move to Quebec City or Seattle during these years of ownership uncertainty as Karmanos has had the team on the market have been hoping to hear.

The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 but haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Despite their postseason drought, Carolina is building quite a depth of young talent, most notably on defense. They could take another positive step forward next season, perhaps contending for a playoff spot. In a bid to bolster their goaltending situation, the Hurricanes also acquired and then signed former Chicago No. 2 netminder Scott Darling.

Predators’ Watson asking for $1.4 million in arbitration

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It could be a busy couple of days for the Nashville Predators with two arbitration hearings scheduled through Monday.

The first of those two was scheduled for Saturday with restricted free agent forward Viktor Arvidsson, while Austin Watson is scheduled to have his on Monday if no deal is struck before then. On Saturday Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Watson and the Predators have filed their numbers for that hearing with Watson looking to make $1.4 million, and the Predators countering with an offer of $700,000.

Watson made $575,000 this past season for the Predators when he scored five goals with 12 assists in 77 games while mostly playing in a bottom-six role.

The 25-year-old Watson was a first-round pick by the Predators in 2010 and has played his entire career to this point with the organization. In parts of three seasons with the big club he has scored just nine goals in 140 games.

He played what was perhaps his best hockey with the team during the 2016-17 playoffs when he scored four goals (nearly matching his career regular season high) and added five assists during the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. All four of those goals came in the Western Conference Finals against the Anaheim Ducks, including two in their series-clinching Game 6 win. He also recorded three assists in the Stanley Cup Final.

Given the relatively small gap here this seems like a classic “meet in the middle” situation when it comes to reaching a deal for this upcoming season.