Ondrej Pavelec

Former Thrashers blown away by media coverage they get as Jets, especially in Toronto

Tonight, the Winnipeg Jets will play their first game in Toronto since moving from Atlanta.

Today, they experienced what it’s like to be the visiting Canadian team at the Air Canada Centre.

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reported that a “mass of 40 or 50 reporters, cameramen and other media personalities” were in the Jets’ dressing room today — a far cry from what players normally experienced when they were Thrashers.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Jets forward Bryan Little said. “Usually when Atlanta went on the road, it was pretty a empty dressing room. Now it’s kind of the opposite. It’s hard to get around in here.”

For Jets like Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Tanner Glass and Ron Hainsey, this is nothing new. Playing in the hockey hotbeds of Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Vancouver and Montreal prepared them for throngs of media both pre and postgame.

But for players that spent their entire careers in Atlanta — Little, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Evander Kane, Ondrej Pavelec and Jim Slater (the longest-tenured Thrasher/Jet on the team) — it’s an eye-opener.

“It’s really crazy,” Little added. “It’s a whole different level [of attention] than what we were used to in Atlanta. It’s not bad. It has its ups and downs. It’s nice to have the attention and following for once but at the same time it puts a little more pressure on the team.”

Game Notes:

Ondrej Pavelec, who was the first star in Winnipeg’s win over Pittsburgh Monday night, will get the start in goal. James Reimer will go for Toronto.

— Evander Kane will return to the Jets lineup after a one-game absence.

— With Ron Hainsey out for two weeks with an upper-body injury, Derek Meech will make his regular-season debut on the blueline tonight for Winnipeg.

— Maple Leafs rookie Jake Gardiner will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last two games. He’ll replace Cody Franson.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta