Phoenix Coyotes v Los Angeles Kings

Dustin Penner back in doghouse, though nobody’s sure he ever left

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Here’s the latest entry for Dustin Penner’s Awful L.A. Adventure logbook: He’s been dropped out of the Kings’ top-six for tonight’s contest against Dallas. Scott Parse, a healthy scratch for the last six games, will draw into the lineup and play on L.A.’s second line with Mike Richards and Dustin Brown. Penner will drop to the third line with Jarret Stoll and Brad Richardson.

This goes without saying, but being replaced for a guy that hasn’t played in 19 days is probably a bad sign. And just in case Penner’s demotion was somehow misinterpreted, Kings head coach Terry Murray clarified it to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider:

“The game last night [vs. New Jersey] was a little bit of a drop-off. The conversation that we just had was about that. The whole concept with him right now, for me, is to keep working hard with the intensity, get that game to a higher consistent level.’’

Penner’s been a dud since the Kings acquired him at February’s trade deadline. Last year he had just six points in 19 regular season games and struggled throughout L.A.’s opening-round series against San Jose, where he was dangerously close to being a healthy scratch himself.

Things haven’t gotten much better this season. Penner has just one point through six games (admittedly, he’s dealt with an injured knee) and hasn’t developed any offensive chemistry with his teammates. This is a problem considering the rest of L.A.’s top six have all had their moments this year. “The first line of Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams got off to a strong start,” Hammond writes. “Mike Richards has been a force on the power play. Dustin Brown had a two-point game against St. Louis. Then there’s Penner, who has zero goals and one assist in six games.”

The craziest part of all this is that Penner’s in a contract year. You know, the year when notoriously inconsistent players often put it together so they can net a huge payday…then go back to being inconsistent. (See: Bieksa, Kevin.)

Penner needs to figure things out, and quickly. The Kings have made it clear they’re looking for another offensive piece in the top six and down in the AHL, Andrei Loktionov has 11 points in nine games for the Manchester Monarchs. He’s a natural center, but also a left-handed shot. You do the math from there.

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Hawks goalie Scott Darling goes the extra mile to help a stranger in need

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) celebrates with goalie Corey Crawford (50) and left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86), of Finland, after the Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3 in two overtimes in Game 1 of an NHL Western Conference hockey playoff series Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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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.

–Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling did something incredible for a person in need. (USA Today)

–Sens forward Kyle Turris can relate to what Jonathan Drouin is going through. (Tampa Bay Times)

Matt Duchene built a special bond with a young Avs fan who’s been dealing with cancer. (Sportsnet)

Milan Lucic wrote a letter to Boston for The Players’ Tribune. (The Players’ Tribune)

–Devils fans say “thank you” to former goaltender Martin Brodeur:

–Take a look at Nicklas Backstrom‘s first NHL All-Star game experience. (Monumental Network)

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Three
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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.