Preds coach is waiting to “see the whites of young Radulov’s eyes” (Updated with GM quote)

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Barry Trotz has heard all about Alexander Radulov’s potential return to the Nashville Predators: however, despite being the coach of the team, he says he has no idea if it’ll happen.

“Until I see the whites of young Radulov’s eyes, I won’t prepare for it because that’s the what if – if I won the lottery type thing,” Trotz said today, as per The Tennessean. “Yesterday a couple of people tweeted me or phoned me and asked me if he’s coming back? (Shoot) if I know.”

Radulov, 25, led the KHL in scoring in 2011-12 (63 points in 50 games) before his Salavat Yulaev Ufa team was eliminated from the playoffs.

He was also the league’s top scorer (and MVP) last year, racking up 80 points in 54 games.

Looks terrifying, too.

Update (5:59 p.m. ET)

As reported by The Tennessean, Preds GM David Poile says the ball is entirely in Radulov’s court.

“We’ve had more meetings than I’d like to remember in terms of talking to Rad or to his agent, and it’s really up to him,” Poile said. “We laid all the groundwork for him to come back, whenever that is going to be. But I think the groundwork has been laid over the last couple of years, and it has been available to take that opportunity. He’s the one who’s going to have to make that decision. I think I’ve been consistent since the day he left that he will eventually come back and play for the Nashville Predators and play in the NHL, the best league in the world.

“I’ve always felt he’s a player who wanted to compare himself to better players in the world, and I believe he wants to win a Stanley Cup in his career. I’ve always said he’s going to come back. The timing would be good for him and for us. You’re going to have to talk to him to see whether this is going to happen or not.”

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.