Alex Ovechkin

Crosby, Ovechkin, and Tavares are your Hart Trophy finalists

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Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and John Tavares are your 2013 Hart Trophy finalists, the award given for the league’s most valuable player.

Crosby, 25, missed 12 games this season thanks to a broken jaw but was only edged out as the league’s leading scorer late in the season. His 15 goals and 41 assists had him finishing fourth in the league in points. He helped lead the Penguins to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and an Atlantic Division title. He has one previous Hart Trophy to his credit for his play in the 2006-2007 season.

Ovechkin, 27, turned it on late in the season finishing the year with a league-leading 32 goals and finished third in the league in points. His play helped dig the Caps out of an early season hole that saw them near the bottom of the league. The Caps finished the year atop the Southeast Division and third in the East. He’s a two-time Hart winner taking home the award in back-to-back seasons in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

Tavares is the new guy in the group here. At 22 years-old, it’s his first time as a finalist for league MVP and his efforts in leading the Islanders to the playoffs for the first time since 2006-2007 didn’t go unnoticed. He finished the regular season third in the league in goals with 28. His steady improvement through his career shows this might be the first of many shots at MVP.

Possible snubs: Chicago’s Jonathan Toews for leading his team to the best record in the league. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf for leading the Ducks to a division title after missing the playoffs last year. Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky for nearly getting the Blue Jackets to the playoffs.

Isles chase Nilsson from Oilers’ net in less than 12 minutes

Edmonton Oilers goalie Anders Nilsson, of Sweden, makes pad save against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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There was a time when Anders Nilsson seemed like the best bet in the Oilers’ net this season. This … is not that time.

Less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s game, the New York Islanders roared to a 3-0 lead, and that was enough for Edmonton to give Nilsson the hook.

He allowed those three goals on 10 shots, so to be fair, that’s a pretty impressive chunk of chances (almost a shot on goal per minute).

Still, the Oilers were likely hoping to give Cam Talbot a breather, and instead he was rushed into action. Nilsson hadn’t played since Jan. 19, and he’s only appeared in three games in 2016.

As if this didn’t sting enough for Nilsson, consider the fact that he began his NHL career with the Islanders, who eventually decided he wasn’t worth keeping.

Ovi scores 30th as Caps beat Flyers for third straight victory

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Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.

Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz replied for the Flyers, who suffered their second straight loss.

The win was the Capitals’ third in a row.

It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).

But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.

Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:

Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.

Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.

The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.

 

Jets’ Stafford to have disciplinary hearing after high-sticking Holden

Colorado Avalanche's Nick Holden (2) hits Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault (85) during first period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford will meet with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden on Saturday night, the DoPS announced this afternoon.

There was no immediate video of the incident available. Stafford wasn’t penalized on the play, which occurred during the third period; Holden finished the final frame with 10 shifts for 6:46 of ice time.

Stafford, 30, has a clean disciplinary history and hasn’t been fined or suspended during his 10-year NHL career.

 

 

Video: Holtby robs Streit with massive splits save

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Braden Holtby continued his Vezina-worthy campaign on Super Bowl Sunday with an outrageous pad stop on Flyers d-man Mark Streit, midway through the Washington-Flyers game on NBC.

Pretty impressive effort from “Holt-beast,” who currently sits first in the NHL in wins, with 32.