wadebelakap

David Legwand pays tribute to Wade Belak

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While many might remember Wade Belak the most for being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he finished his lengthy career as an NHL enforcer with the Nashville Predators.

Belak spent parts of three seasons with the organization. He was traded from the Florida Panthers to Nashville on November 27, 2008 and played 38 games for the Predators in the 2008-09 season. He then played 39 games with Nashville in 09-10 and 15 in 2010-11.

Nashville made enough of an impression on Belak that his funeral service will take place there on Sunday, but it turns out that the well-liked pugilist made an impression on the city and his final hockey team as well.

Predators center David Legwand decided to take out a full-page advertisement in The Tennessean to pay tribute to his former teammate on Saturday. Josh Cooper shared that heartfelt message with readers here.

“In Loving memory of Wade Belak”

“A Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Friend and Teammate!”

“One of the greatest, funniest, toughest guys to play the game of hockey, you warmed all of our hearts, brought life to the locker room and ice, and made us all laugh, whether it was with you or at you. More than you’ll ever know, you were loved by the guys you played with and those you stood up for. The hockey world has lost a great man on the ice and in the community and no team or sport had a better ambassador. You represented everything good about the game and its players.

You will forever have a place in the Predator family, community, and with your fans. You will always be in our hearts.

To Jen, Andie and Alex, Wade loved you each more than anything in the world and always had a smile on his face when he talked about his family. Wade, you went way before your time. So to our friend, with all the hugs, thoughts and prayers, we let you rest in peace.”

Legwand finished out the message by saying that it was written by him on behalf of the Predators’ players, coaches, trainers and organization as a whole.

Obviously it’s easy to be grim in tough times like these – and there’s certainly some very serious lessons to learn. But it’s important to remember that a person’s life shouldn’t be solely defined by the way it ends. Belak obviously touched a lot of lives when he wasn’t getting into on-ice skirmishes, something that will surely be mentioned during his funeral service tomorrow.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

Oshie OT goal
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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: