Stephane Auger

Stephane Auger to officiate first game in Vancouver since Burrows incident

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TEAM 1040 radio in Vancouver is reporting that Stephane Auger, assigned to referee tonight’s Blues-Canucks game at Rogers Arena, will officiate in Vancouver for the first time since the infamous Alex Burrows incident.

As a refresher, here’s what transpired between Burrows and Auger on Jan. 11, 2010:

Burrows, who scored two goals in Vancouver’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday, received a 10-minute misconduct with four seconds left in the game after complaining to Auger, who penalized the Vancouver player twice in the third period.

“After my second penalty, I skated by him, and he said, ‘If you say a word, I am going to kick you out,’ so I didn’t say a word because I still thought we could come back and win the game,” Burrows said after the game. “But with three seconds left and the faceoff outside the zone, I thought I could tell him what I thought about him.”

Burrows said Auger — an NHL official since 2000 — told him during the warm-up that Burrows made him look bad when he drew a major penalty after Predator Jerred Smithson charged him in Nashville on Dec. 8.

“It was personal. It started in warm-up before the anthem,” Burrows said. “The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit.”

Smithson got a major penalty and a game misconduct for a charging penalty on Burrows.

“He said he was going to get me back tonight, and he did his job in the third,” Burrows said.

After an NHL investigation, Burrows was fined $2500 for his comments, Auger received no punishment and Vancouver dreamed up a billion paranoid conspiracy theories about how the man was trying to keep it down. Or, as we refer to it locally, “the usual.”

You wouldn’t believe just how long this carried on for, even though Ron MacLean of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada had a lot to do with that. He ripped Burrows quite severely on the program, so much so that Burrows’ family filed a complaint to CBC (with Burrows’ father calling it “verbal assassination.”) That gave the story roughly 14 extra weeks of shelf life.

As for tonight’s game, there are three other officials working not named Stephane Auger. They are Dan O’Halloran (referee), Don Henderson and Thor Nelson (linesmen).

Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

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Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.