Pavel Datsyuk,  Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Franzen

Detroit stays alive, beats San Jose 4-3 on Darren Helm’s late goal

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It had been years since the Red Wings were swept out of a playoff series. Since 1995 to be exact when the Wings were swept by the Devils in the Stanley Cup final. Going into tonight’s game against San Jose, the Red Wings were staring that fate in the face tonight. With a hot start coupled with a clutch finish, the Red Wings live to see another day after beating the Sharks 4-3 in Game 4.

Detroit got the hot start they were hoping for when they were able to get out to a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a goal from Todd Bertuzzi and two goals from Nicklas Lidstrom. As some of the talk leading into tonight’s Game 4 was about whether or not Lidstrom could be playing in his last game, his performance in tonight’s game certainly lends credence to the possibility of Lidstrom continuing on for at least one more year.

Bertuzzi’s goal kicked things off and he did so after getting in a short shouting match with Devin Setoguchi. Bertuzzi returned to the ice to pull off a spinorama and snap a backhand shot past Antti Niemi (36 saves). Lidstrom’s two goals after that included a highlight reel goal in which he kicked the puck up in the air and knocked it out of mid-air to make it 3-0.

Just 15 seconds after that incredible tally, Logan Couture would get a piece of a Ryane Clowe shot that would squirt past Jimmy Howard (25 saves) to get the Sharks on the board late in the first period and get their momentum rolling into the second period. There, Dan Boyle would score at 13:44 of the period to make the Detroit lead a bit more perilous.

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Once the third period rolled around, the Sharks wasted no time in coming back completely from their 3-0 hole as Dany Heatley beat Howard after he had all day to wind up his shot. The game the rest of the way was played on a razor’s edge with teams trading opportunities until 1:27 of the third when Darren Helm put one past Niemi to give the Wings the lead and ultimately the victory.

Detroit got the desperate game they had to have tonight but still had some glaring problems, especially in the second period and for half of the third. It wasn’t a complete 60 minute effort and Couture’s goal in the first period was a killer because it crushed the momentum the Wings got from Lidstrom’s second goal. They’ll need to be better defensively in Game 5 on Sunday night if they want to keep hope alive.

San Jose did themselves a disservice by getting down 3-0 in the first period. Sure, they got back into the game and eventually tied it up but when you’re spending effort for most of the game to get it tied up, that hurts. The Sharks had their chances late but couldn’t contain the Wings when the pressure poured on late. It’s another thin margin of error in this series and it’s the first time it’s gone against San Jose. They’ll need to shake this game off and come out ready on Sunday.

Here are the highlights from Game 4:

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Game 5 will be Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on Versus.

Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M

Vladislav Namestnikov
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Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.

Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.

Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.

But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.

Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon

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There’s just one piece of business left for Minnesota this summer — a new contract for RFA defenseman Matt Dumba.

And it sounds like that piece of business will soon be attended to.

From the Star-Tribune:

There have been ongoing talks between Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr and [Dumba’s] agent Craig Oster.

The two are expected to meet face to face in Calgary at the Hockey Canada camp.

Dumba, the former No. 7 overall pick, just wrapped his entry-level deal, coming off a campaign in which he set career highs in games played (81), goals (10) and points (26).

He also notched a pair of assists in the Wild’s six-game loss to Dallas in the playoffs.

Dumba, 22, did see his name surface in trade talks this season. There was a report in late January that he was the return piece in a potential swap for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, and he’s been tied to teams looking for a blueline upgrade.

A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).

Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.

There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).

The Wild are in control of the Dumba situation and can slow play negotiations, possibly while re-exploring trade scenarios. Don’t forget the Bruins are still in search of the “transitional” defenseman they desperately want.

But should things go the expected way and Dumba re-signs in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune said a bridge deal is the “likeliest” outcome.

Journeyman enforcer Rosehill signs with Scottish team

Paul Bissonnette, Jay Rosehill
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Noted pugilist Jay Rosehill has followed in the footsteps of his fellow tough guys, and will try his hand overseas.

Specifically, in the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, the EIHL’s Scottish-based outfit in Braehead — the Clan — announced it had signed Rosehill for the upcoming campaign. The move comes after the 31-year-old spent each of the last two seasons with Philly’s AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

Though he’s slowed down in recent years, Rosehill has long been known as an extremely active fighter. At no time was this more evident than during the ’08-09 campaign, when he fought a staggering 33 times (yeah, thirty-three) while playing for AHL Norfolk.

Rosehill last played in the NHL during the ’13-14 campaign, scoring two goals in 34 games for the Flyers — while racking up 90 PIM.

Here’s an example of some of his most famous handiwork:

As mentioned above, the EIHL has landed a few notable ex-NHL fighters. Cam Janssen, Kevin Westgarth, Paul Bissonnette and Tom Sestito have all played there.

 

 

Veteran d-man Foster retires, moves into coaching

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Kurtis Foster #26 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during their NHL game against the New York Islanders on December 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  The Wild defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.

Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.

The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.

The severity of the collision and Foster’s injury — he underwent emergency surgery, nearly bled out and almost lost his leg — prompted an immediate rule tweak from the NHL, and has since been viewed as a catalyst for the league’s adoption of no-touch icing.

Impressively, Foster recovered from the broken femur to post a career-high 42 points in 74 games with the Lightning in ’09-10.

In addition to the Wild and Bolts, Foster spent time with the Thrashers, Oilers, Ducks, Devils and Flyers.