Brendan Shanahan

Shanahan: Nash hit was ‘rotten,’ but not suspendable

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NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan says the league didn’t like Rick Nash’s hit on Tomas Kopecky Thursday night, but that wasn’t enough to suspend him.

In a phone interview with Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy, Shanahan explained that while Nash’s hit should’ve been penalized during the game, it didn’t contain enough elements to garner supplemental discipline.

“We don’t like this hit. It absolutely should have been a two [minute minor], and probably should have been a five,” Shanahan said. “We don’t see this as being principal point of contact to the head. For a fact, we don’t see much contact to the head at all.”

Shanahan also added he spoke to Nash on Thursday night, and told the Rangers forward the hit was “rotten.”

Nash caught Kopecky late in the third period with Florida holding a 2-0 lead. He wasn’t penalized and Kopecky left momentarily before returning to score an empty-net goal, icing the Panthers’ win.

Many have pointed to the fact Nash left his feet as a reason for punishing the hit. To that, Shanahan said the NHL doesn’t suspend players for leaving their feet, but rather “leaving your feet and hitting a guy in the head violently.”

The decision not to suspend Nash has come under heavy scrutiny.

Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir wrote “pretty much everyone dropped the ball on this one,” while the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran said Nash “got off scot-free,” suggesting it would’ve been appropriate for Shanahan or the disciplinary department to issue a video/statement explaining why the Rangers forward wasn’t suspended.

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No disciplinary hearing for Nash after Kopecky hit

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

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.