Chris Stewart

Blues’ Stewart leaves Czech team, heads back to Germany

Chris Stewart’s European adventure continues.

That’s the news out of Germany on Thursday as Stewart has reportedly left Czech Extraliga team Liberec to resume playing for Bundesliga squad Eispiraten Crimmitschau, according to the team website.

Stewart, 25, first signed with Crimmitschau in late September along with Flyers forward and close friend Wayne Simmonds.

Stewart played in nine games for the Ice Pirates — yes, Ice Pirates — scoring 5G-6A-11PTS before he and Simmonds jumped to the Czech league.

In Liberec, the pair was playing against a higher level of competition while skating alongside fellow locked-out NHLers Ondrej Pavelec and Ladislav Smid.

But according to agent Eustace King, both thoroughly enjoyed their time in the German second division.

“The guys loved playing in Crimmitschau,” King explained. “The fans were one of the best they ever played in front of and the coach and management treated them first class.”

So, no huge surprise Stewart decided to return.

His decision was also likely influenced by the fact he’d done very little with Liberec, registering just one assist in five games.

It’s also worth noting his time in the Extraliga was marred by a racially-charged incident when fans of Czech club Chomutov subjected Simmonds to chants of “Opice” — “monkey” in English — during a game on Oct. 28.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.