Nikolai Khabibulin drops his DUI appeal, will go to jail

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Nikolai Khabibulin is doing the right thing and owning up to his crime.

Last summer, Khabibulin was convicted in an Arizona court of extreme DUI and reckless driving and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He filed an appeal to get a stay on his sentence, but today he’s opted to drop his appeal and serve his punishment.

According to a representative of Scottsdale City Court, he will spend 15 days in jail, with the other 15 days to be served at home with an electronic monitoring device. Khabibulin must also enter an alcohol treatment program.

Khabibulin was arrested and charged in February of last year in Scottsdale. Police say he was doing 70 miles/hr in a 40 miles/hr zone. They went to say that a breathalyzer showed he had at least twice the legal amount of alcohol in his system.

Khabibulin issued a statement on the situation and The Sporting News’ Craig Custance shares the word from the former Stanley Cup winning goalie.

“Over the past 6 months my appeals case has been pending with the Maricopa County Superior Court and, as of July 7, 2011, no Oral Argument date had been set. The length of this process has placed my attendance at training camp in serious jeopardy. Accordingly, despite assurances by legal counsel regarding the strength of my appeals case, I have decided to withdraw my appeal and proceed with sentencing by the Scottsdale Municipal Court.

“I readily accept the lawful sentence which has been imposed by the Scottsdale Municipal Court, which includes jail, fines and substance abuse counseling. I will fulfill all of my obligations required by Scottsdale and the State of Arizona in the coming month. Once completed, I eagerly anticipate a timely return to Edmonton for training camp, where I will strive to be the best player, teammate and citizen possible.”

Khabibulin’s sentence likely won’t have much of an effect on the Edmonton Oilers as he’ll likely be in and out of lockup before training camp begins in September. The Oilers already have a lot of options in goal as it is with Devan Dubnyk on the rise and now Yann Danis in the system as well. That’s of little consequence as Khabibulin’s conviction is embarrassing for himself and for the team as well.

Khabibulin has two more years remaining on a four-year, $15 million contract that the Oilers signed him to that also doubles as a 35+ deal meaning that his $3.75 million cap hit sticks around no matter what. If the Oilers are eager to let him go and try to get rid of him through any other means than a trade, they’ll be stuck owing him that money against the cap regardless of what they do with him. Expect that the Oilers and GM Steve Tambellini will stick by Khabibulin through this ordeal and get him back on the ice as long as he’s healthy.

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

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When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

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BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

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Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson