Every hockey writer who was getting ready to talk about Alexander Radulov’s tough first game back might have to hold down the “Backspace” button now. Radulov pounced on a loose puck to score a goal in his return to the NHL, cutting the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lead to 4-1. (The Penguins eventually won 5-1.)
Granted, a goal doesn’t change everything, and Radulov hasn’t been a smash success otherwise. Let’s be fair to Radulov, though. He might be jet-lagged and the Penguins have just been a locomotive of sorts, although Nashville has had its fair share of promising chances.
Radulov has that goal – coming on his only shot so far – and a -2 rating in 9:56 of ice time. So yeah, it hasn’t been all great (but it’s not over yet). That’s his first NHL goal since March 20, 2008.
Interestingly enough, it almost looked like Sidney Crosby found the net for the first time in his second comeback of the season just moments before the Radulov goal. Instead, Chris Kunitz got the tally as the puck actually deflected off of a Predators’ skate.
There’s plenty of time for Crosby and Radulov to add to their games, but Nashville might want to up its pace if it wants to make a game of a contest that is currently 4-1 heading into the second intermission.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.