Gary Bettman updates Phoenix Coyotes sale situation

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The NHL has been stuck in limbo with the Phoenix Coyotes sale for long enough that it’s almost hard to believe that a resolution might ever happen. If you read a bit into Gary Bettman’s comments from last night, then you might just believe that an answer could come soon, though.

Bettman spoke with Anaheim-area media* Wednesday regarding a variety of issues, but amid all the cryptic comments, the Coyotes bits carried an air of exhaustion. Let’s pick apart the juiciest bits.

“Nothing’s imminent”

When asked about the possible owners “on the back burner” in Phoenix, here is what Bettman had to say:

“Nothing imminent,” Bettman said. “But it’s still being worked on. It’s still a work in progress and there’s no significant development that I’m in position to report.”

Ouch. It almost sounds like there’s not a shiny new Matt Hulsizer/Jerry Reinsdorf to shake in front of people to distract them from the undesirable situation. When Bettman was asked if he wanted to bring the situation “to a conclusion” in Phoenix, he had this to say:

“Our goal is to bring it to a conclusion in Phoenix,” Bettman said. “If, in fact, we don’t have an alternative, we’ll deal with it. But we’re not at that point.”

Naturally, that brings us to a crucial question: when will the NHL reach that point? Honestly, many of us believed it reached the point of no return at least a couple times before, yet some last minute twist – good or bad – always seemed to come along.

The difference is, this time around, Bettman kind-of-sort-of admits that it all might wind down in the very near future.

“If I were speculating, that would be my guess and at some point, if we can’t get it resolved for next year, then obviously I think we’ll have to consider our alternatives—but that’s not new news.”

It’s true, this isn’t really “new news,” but it all feels a little different coming from Bettman’s mouth.

So, let me ask: Are these quotes a sign that things are moving in the wrong direction – as in, away from Phoenix – or are they really no big deal? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

* – Including PHT’s own Matt Reitz.

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.