Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues is introduced prior to playing against the Detroit Red Wings at the Scottrade Center on January 19, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.
(January 18, 2013 - Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Blues gear up for 2012 playoff rematch

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NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center at 8:00 p.m. ET.

In January, the Sharks could do no wrong thanks in part to an explosive offense led by forwards Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski.

They earned seven straight victories that month – and they haven’t won since. Instead, San Jose has a 0-4-3 record in February and the trio that instilled fear into goaltenders earlier this season has combined for just four points this month.

Still, Sharks GM Doug Wilson is preaching patience.

“There are other teams that have gone through phases of losing some games, other very good, talented teams out there that are not on top of their game to the level they want to be,” Wilson said.

Until recently, Wilson might have been referring to their opponents tonight.

The Blues also got off to a hot start this season only to struggle in February. They lost five straight games, in part because starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak suffered a groin injury and netminder Brian Elliott was lit up in his absence.

However, the Blues bounced back with 22-year-old goaltender Jake Allen between the pipes. Halak has recovered as well, although Allen will start tonight, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

With St. Louis rising and San Jose looking for answers, the Sharks probably wish this meeting was under different circumstances. This is the two squads’ first match since the Blues dismissed San Jose in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Just a few weeks ago, the Sharks could have used this game to prove that they’ve moved past their 2012 shortcomings. Now they are limited to a far more basic need: Two points.

Probable goaltenders: STL – Allen (3-0-0, 2.76 GAA, .888 SV%) | SJS – Antti Niemi (6-2-3, 1.94 GAA, .930 SV%)

Top scorers: STL – Alexander Steen (4-11-15, 15 GP) | SJS – Marleau and Thornton are tied with 15 points in 14 games.

Notable Injuries:
St. Louis – Forwards: Jamie Langenbrunner (hip)
San Jose – Forwards: James Sheppard (lower body), Andrew Desjardins (illness)

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.