Shane Doan

‘Healthy and stable,’ Doan leading Phoenix’s offensive charge

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The Phoenix Coyotes are the NHL’s fourth highest-scoring team this year (3.22 goals per game), and they have their grizzled veteran leader to thank.

Shane Doan, the club’s 37-year-old captain, is putting up some of the finest offensive numbers of his career, posting 19 points through 22 games while leading the ‘Yotes in goals, with 11 — putting him on pace for what would be a career-best total of 41.

It’s a pretty big development for a guy that’s never scored more than 31 but, the way head coach Dave Tippett sees it, these results aren’t totally surprising.

“He’s come to the rink every day with a smile on his face,” Tippett said on Monday, as per the Coyotes’ website. “I think ‘healthy’ and ‘stable’ are two good words to describe [Doan].”

Doan admitted the ’13 campaign was extremely difficult, as he played all 48 games despite two sports hernias. The pain and discomfort saw him score just 13 goals and 27 points as Phoenix missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.

“Last season was a tough one where you felt like you were chasing it the whole year,” Doan told the Arizona Republic. “You can’t be as physical. You have no jump, and it hurts to get up.

“It hurts to move.”

Now healthy — he underwent offseason surgery using a new repair procedure — Doan is at the forefront of the NHL’s most balanced offensive attacks. He sits tied on points with Martin Hanzal (19) but is being chased by the likes of Radim Vrbata (18 points), Mike Ribeiro (17) and the club’s high-scoring defensemen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle (17 each).

According to Tippett, though, it’s Doan that stirs the drink.

“Shane’s the one guy that, consistently game after game, goes out and creates chances for us,” Tippett explained. “He’s hard in front of the net, and five-on-five and on the power play he’s led our team in chances for.

“It doesn’t matter where you put him, he gets the job done.”

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