The Jordan Staal-to-Carolina rumors are heating up

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Given the Carolina Hurricanes already employ two of the four hockey-playing Staal brothers (Eric and Jared), it would only make sense they’d be interested in a third.

Right?

Right, according to the wonderful world of social media.

That’s the rumor du jour regarding the future of Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal. To understand how we got from “Staal leading the Pens in playoff scoring” to “Staal going to ‘Canes country”, follow this handy timeline:

— Pens GM Ray Shero conducts a lengthy interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, saying he “might run into problems” trying to keep all three of his gifted centers: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Staal.

Malkin is on the books until 2014, Crosby and Staal 2013. But of the three, Crosby and Malkin have no-movement clauses. Staal doesn’t.

— Following up on comments from CBC’s Glenn Healy (“[Staal] is not going to ask to be traded, but the hockey world knows something has got to happen,”) the Edmonton Journal floats the idea of the Oilers trading the first overall pick at the 2012 Draft for Staal.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie then picks up on the trade banter:

“There’s a lot of Jordan Staal talk, where his long-term home is (PIT or elsewhere?). Being a year from UFA means he’s driving the bus.

“PIT can’t get full market value in trade for J Staal if he’s one and done in the new locale. So Staal ultimately ends up wherever he wants.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if all three Staal brothers eventually want to play on same team. Eric, BTW, has four more years on his CAR deal.

“Which is to suggest Eric not going anywhere. Just a guess, but if Jordan isn’t a Penguin—not suggesting he’s not—a Cane seems logical.

“Bottom line is in 1 yr, it’s entirely his call. That power/influence dramatically impacts potential move this summer.”

Mark Madden of Penguins Radio (WXDX 105.9 Pittsburgh) reports on the ‘Canes angle: “Staal has apparently said that if Pens trade him, he’d prefer to go to Carolina to play with brother Eric.”

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer continues this narrative. “Canes would (will?) be very interested,” Alexander tweets. “I would not be stunned if Jordan Staal becomes a Hurricane.”

— Then, in a piece claiming Carolina GM Jim Rutherford’s been greenlit by owner Peter Karmanos to acquire “a top-line player,” The News and Observer’s Luke DeCock says Staal is a legit free agent target.

So there’s your timeline.

Now that we’ve angried up the blood, let’s put everything in perspective. One, nothing is imminent (as Madden notes in a subsequent tweet). Two, Carolina seems to be in need of wingers and blueliners more than centers.

Three, nobody’s actually talked to Staal, who is probably laughing on a deck somewhere in Thunder Bay.

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.