Dalton Prout #47 of the Columbus Blue Jackets and David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs chase after a loose puck during the first period on October 25, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
(October 24, 2013 - Source: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images North America)

Blue Jackets ruin David Clarkson’s Leafs debut

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David Clarkson’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts. After inking a seven-year, roughly $36.8 million deal over the summer, he missed the first 10 games of the regular season thanks to an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to fight Buffalo’s John Scott during a preseason game.

He was finally able to make his debut on Friday, but took a hooking penalty just 4:16 minutes into the contest against Columbus. The Blue Jackets capitalized on the opportunity en route to a 5-2 victory. Clarkson ended up with four shots on goal and a minus-one rating in 15:41 minutes of playing time.

He looked “rusty” to Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, although that’s to be expected after missing nearly a month of play.

“He’s going to try, he’s going to work,” Carlyle said, according to the Canadian Press via the Maple Leafs’ site. “The other things as far as the stick-handling and the turnovers and stuff, I think you’ve got to give the guy some slack.”

Clarkson felt he was okay, although he obviously wasn’t satisfied with the result. How he performs over the coming weeks and months will likely be the subject of intense scrutiny in Toronto as his contract was a somewhat divisive one. The length of the deal in particular has been criticized, given that the physical forward will celebrate his 30th birthday in March. At the same time, his blend of grit and goal scoring prowess should prove to be an asset on a team that’s gotten off to a 7-4-0 start.

Clarkson will get a chance to immediately shake off this loss with a match against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.

PHT Morning Skate: Sharks name stray cat after captain Joe Pavelski

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–The stray cat that ran onto the ice prior to Game 1 between the Sharks and Preds has been named after Joe Pavelski. (Associated Press)

–Speaking of that black cat, here’s a mountain of pucks shaped like the cat. (The Score)

–When Lukas Head was younger, he played with Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Here’s his story. (Toronto Star)

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–A look behind the scenes of the NHL draft lottery. (Canadian Press)

–Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sharon Szabados loves curing and the Oilers and she was forced to make a tough choice on Saturday. (Sportsnet)

Pascal Dupuis, who was named one of the Masterton Trophy finalists, is adjusting to retirement. (NHL.com)

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

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