Joffrey Lupul

Ex-Duck Lupul on Anaheim’s struggles: “I’m pretty surprised”

Tonight will be a reunion of sorts for Toronto winger Joffrey Lupul. It’ll be the first time he’s faced his former club — the Anaheim Ducks — since being traded to Toronto nine months ago.

Not that he’s missing life in Orange County.

The Leafs are off to their best start in years, the Ducks their worst. Heading into Sunday’s play, Anaheim’s 6-12-4 record was the worst in the Pacific Division and dangerously close to the worst in the Western Conference. Columbus is now just one point back of Anaheim for 14th place and should the BJs beat St. Louis tonight and the Ducks lose to Toronto, the Ducks will occupy the conference basement. (As opposed to the parental basement, occupied by the PHT staffers.)

“I’m pretty surprised,” he told the OC Register. “If you just look at those names, (Bobby) Ryan, (Ryan) Getzlaf, (Corey) Perry, (Teemu) Selanne … you think that’s a playoff team. Right?”

Not that Lupul is shedding any tears. In speaking with the Register, he discussed his acrimonious relationship with Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle about playing left wing. Lupul’s emerged as a high-end scorer since moving to the position full-time in Toronto. He’s scored 11 times and is third in the NHL with 27 points.

“In my conversation with Randy, he said he didn’t think I had the skill to play left in wing in this league being on my off side,” Lupul said (he’s a right-hand shot). “So he wasn’t going to give me that opportunity here. And I’m not going to knock Corey Perry or Teemu Selanne off their right wing spot.

“So pretty much after that conversation, I realized that I probably wasn’t in their plans here.”

That’s not what Carlyle wanted to hear as he squirms on the hottest of hot seats. One of Anaheim’s biggest issues this year has been secondary scoring — with the Big Three struggling to find their form, the only Duck to step up and provide consistent offense has been Selanne.

“If we probably erred, we probably erred in that we didn’t play him consistently enough at left wing,” Carlyle admitted. “Players make comments. It’s not up to management or coaches to throw any dirt one way or another. I’m just glad that the player is healthy and making a contribution.”

Bet he wishes Lupul was making that contribution for the Ducks, though.

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.

Video: Orpik penalized after catching Maatta with late, high hit

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The Pittsburgh Penguins were without defenseman Olli Maatta for most of the first period of Game 2 after he was on the receiving end of a high, late hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.

The hit occurred early in the first period, well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck on a rush into the Washington zone.

Maatta, who nearly fell over as he tried to stand back up, was in obvious distress as he went to the dressing room. Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference on the play.