Steve Stamkos’ foray into restricted free agency wasn’t exactly a major ordeal for himself or for the Tampa Bay Lightning. After some fretting and nervousness about whether or not Stamkos could be signed to a cap-friendly deal and the possibility that he could be traded because of all that.
Through all of that, however, victory prevailed and Stamkos was re-signed to a five-year, $37 million deal to stay with the Lightning and not cripple their salary cap. Through the entire process, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was adamant that Stamkos was going to be back no matter what and Stamkos said there’s nowhere else he even thought of playing in the end anyhow.
“Being from the Toronto area and being back there in the summer, I heard a lot about the rumors, especially when it went by July 1,” Stamkos said at a Friday press conference to discuss his five-year contract extension with the Lightning. “We said were going to keep things out of the media from both sides, so it was tough trying not to come out and say don’t worry, things are going to get done. At the end of the day, my family and I knew this was going to get done. It was nothing I lost sleep over.”
Stamkos wasn’t losing sleep over it but plenty of Lightning fans were before he signed on. Being a fan is tough sometimes that way, but in Stamkos’ case the fans had nothing to worry about. With restricted free agency being what it is, it would’ve taken an other-worldly offer from another team to get him signed to an offer sheet. Never mind the talk about how the Lightning could’ve entertained thoughts of trading him.
When it comes to restricted free agency, the worrying isn’t usually worth the trouble since offer sheets are rare. While the Lightning could’ve made things easier for themselves and opted to go the same route with Stamkos that the Predators did with Shea Weber or the Devils with Zach Parise and guaranteed keeping him by going to arbitration, they chose to not be held to a schedule and worked things out on their own time.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings hope that how the Lightning did things with Stamkos can show them the route to getting a deal done with their own superstar restricted free agent Drew Doughty. If nothing else, it’s just a way for Kings fans to stay sane in seeing things get done with Stamkos with relative ease. At least they know he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”