Ilya Kovalchuk

Kovalchuk might miss Saturday’s game vs. Winnipeg

New Jersey Devils LW Ilya Kovalchuk might not be available for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Kovalchuk left Thursday’s 4-3 SO win over Philadelphia in the third period and did not return for overtime or the shootout — which was an eye-opener, as Kovalchuk is a perfect three-for-three on shootouts this season.

Kovalchuk told Rich Chere of the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he pulled a lower body muscle (oh good, that narrows it down) during his last shift of the game.

“On the last shift I tried to back check,” Kovalchuk explained. “I never got it before. We have good doctors. We’ll see what they tell me.”

(Insert “see what happens when Kovalchuk tries to back check?” joke here.)

Today, head coach Peter DeBoer updated the situation by saying Kovalchuk pulled a leg muscle — Tom Gulitti of the Fire & Ice blog notes Kovi was walking with noticeable leg stiffness — but didn’t offer much more. “We’re going to evaluate him today and get a report tonight and probably it will be more we’ll see how he feels tomorrow morning.” Deboer said.

New Jersey can ill-afford to lose Kovalchuk’s offense — outside of he and Patrik Elias, the Devils aren’t getting much production at all. Last year’s third-leading scorer, Travis Zajac, is out with a torn achilles. Zach Parise has notched five goals…but just a single assist, and is minus-3. As for the defense…yeesh. New Jersey has just 11 points from its blueline this year, and eight of those have come from Mark Fayne and Andy Greene.

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

Matt Frattin
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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.

 

Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma express remorse after benching

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One day after getting benched for showing up late for practice — following an “epic” Super Bowl party, per Sportsnet — Calgary forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma apologized for their actions.

“We want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially, and the city of Calgary and the fans,” Gaudreau said, per the team’s Twitter account. “For us not to show up like that, and miss a game like that, it’s not professional on our part.”

“I’m a young guy and I’m a leader on this team,” Monahan added. “I’ve got to step up and take that back and earn that respect again.”

More on what transpired at Tuesday’s practice, from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley did his best to keep an epic Super Bowl party under wraps. But two of his players — Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan — arrived at the Saddledome at 10:15 am for a 10:30 Monday morning practice, and those two barely beat Johnny Gaudreau in the Saddledome doors.

Then practice started, and in the words of Calgary winger David Jones: “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.”

“I think (Hartley) was pretty pissed off.”

The trio was then subsequently benched for last night’s game against Toronto, which the Flames won 4-3.

Afterward, Hartley downplayed the incident, saying “it’s not like they robbed a bank,” before adding “they’re great kids.”

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Penguins on Rivalry Night

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three
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Tonight, the New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Consol, in a rematch of the ’14 and ’15 playoffs (the Blueshirts eliminated the Pens from each of the last two postseasons, you’ll recall.)

You can catch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s tilt:

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week