Pens GM Ray Shero plays part of buzzkill, nixes Jaromir Jagr return rumors

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It’s fun each year when the World Championships are going on or even the Olympics and we get to see old faces like Jaromir Jagr all over again and start thinking back to the good old days. You know, back when Jagr was on a line with Mario Lemieux and winning Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh or when he dominated while Mario battled injuries.

Seeing Jagr again light things up at the 2011 World Championships at age 39, this time while teamed up with Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec, it got us all wistful once again hoping for a Teemu Selanne-like rally from Jagr back in North America in the NHL. After all, he’s spent the last three years in the KHL with Avangard Omsk and seeing once great NHL players not play on the biggest stage in the world here pains us.

While there were rumors floating around that Jagr might indeed come back to the NHL and even do so with his first team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pens general manager Ray Shero would like to know where all this chatter from came in the first place.

Rob Rossi of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review gets the word from Shero that if Jagr is going to come back to play in the NHL, it’s probably not happening in the Steel City.

On Jagr, who has talked over the past several days of resuming his NHL career, possibly with his original team:  “I don’t understand where all this came from,” Shero said. “Jagr is not a guy we’ve spoken about in a couple of years. We talked about him for a little bit after his time with the Rangers (July 2008), but that’s about it.”

All right, so what about the talk that the Penguins were reaching out to Jagr in the first place? Shero clears that up too with Rossi saying that he wanted current Penguins defenseman and Czech teammate Zbynek Michalek to present Jagr with an invitation for a Penguins alumni golf tournament this summer to celebrate the 20 years anniversary of the Penguins’ first Stanley Cup winning team.

“We were able to get that invitation to him, and we’d like to acknowledge his involvement with the organization,” Shero said, adding that he has not spoken with Jagr’s agents. “That’s really all there was to it.”

That’s a bit of a bummer no doubt as seeing Jagr give it one more turn on NHL ice in Pittsburgh would’ve made for both quite the story and the sight to see. While Jagr could conceivably come back with another team in the NHL that’s interested (Rangers and Canadiens have been rumored) it’s believed that Jagr will stay in Russia again next year and has been in talks with SKA St. Petersburg to join them.

At the very least we’ll have our memories of Jagr’s dominating days in the NHL and look forward to next year’s World Championships in Finland and Sweden to get a look at him once again.

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.