Mike Knuble

Last go-round for Mike Knuble? Not if he has his way

When Mike Knuble signed a one-year deal with the Capitals there were some who wondered if it could mean that this would be Knuble’s last season in the NHL. After all, Knuble will be 39 years-old this season and he’s had a long career that’s seen him win a Stanley Cup back in 1998 with the Red Wings as well as become a power forward and power play specialist for the Rangers, Flyers, Bruins, and Capitals.

After helping become a locker room force for the Capitals last year as well being one of their more productive players on the ice, the Caps are hoping they can cash in on all their big hopes and dreams and get Knuble a chance to win another Stanley Cup before he’s set to call it a career.

But just when is he thinking he’ll hang it up for good? If it’s up to him, it won’t be for a few more years. Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post caught up with Knuble and finds out that he’s not looking at this season as a potential swan song.

“I’m out there playing for another deal,” he said. “I’m not riding off into the sunset. I want to make that point clear to everybody. This is no farewell song.”

Knuble spent last year on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin and that’s a spot that he wants to hang on to as it provides him the best opportunity to cash in on rebounds and give the Caps an advantage there. He does admit to El-Bashir that he knows nothing is guaranteed and if he’s got to change his role, he will. That’s what a veteran will do to both help his team and stay in the game too.

As for how he feels the Caps shape up heading into this season, he’s liking how they look and how that sets up his future a lot.

“Since I’ve been here, this is going to be our best chance,” to win the Stanley Cup, Knuble continued. “There’s a huge window for our team. Our younger guys are starting to come into their prime. Believe me, I would love to stick around for another three years and be here for the whole window. But this year is a great chance.”

If Knuble can still find a way to produce between 20-30 goals per year at his age now, he might just get to play until he’s 42. For now, he’s got a long season ahead of him and one that he and the rest of Washington, D.C. hopes ends in a Stanley Cup parade going through the nation’s capital.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.