Lightning rip Anisimov’s “point gun at Lecavalier” celebration

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Artem Anisimov’s controversial goal celebration from last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay has come under fire.

(Yes, that was a horrible pun.)

If you haven’t seen the incident yet, here’s the video:

Following the game, Tampa Bay was particularly harsh in its critiques.

Steve Stamkos: “It’s just classless. I think I’ve seen him do that once or twice before, so no surprise there. We got the win. He’ll know it’s in the back of our minds the next time we see him. But we’re not going to break focus because of that. We wanted to win the game and we did.

“I don’t know if you saw the replay, but he turned back and pointed the stick like a gun and shot it at Vinny. We don’t need that in our sport. For the most part, you don’t see that too much. But it happens once in a while and it’s dealt with.”

Vincent Lecavalier: “He points his stick like he fires at our net, I’m sure his teammates and their coach was not impressed with that. We were offended and it’s disrespectful. It’s not like he was happy to score a goal and did some type of (fist) pump; it was directly at our net and our goalie.”

Guy Boucher: “That was a gesture that I think proved the players were in it together. Vinny, the captain showing the way, in the fact that we are not going to take humiliation and he certainly set the tone for the rest of the game.”

The Rangers were also critical of Anisimov, though their critiques were much softer. The general consensus was “Artie knew what he did was wrong” and “Artie didn’t mean anything by it,” though head coach John Tortorella took a more fatherly approach.

“I guess I’m in a protective mode,” Tortorella said. “I think he deserves to be protected because I know who he is. I don’t blame Tampa at all as far as how they reacted. But I want to protect him. He’s a solid, solid guy that made a mistake that I still don’t think he really understands what he was doing there.”

Don’t expect this incident to go away anytime soon. It’s likely to land on the desk of NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan because Lightning forward Steve Downie left the bench to partake in the post-goal fracas.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”