NathanHorton

Horton: Columbus linemates Jenner, Johansen are ‘going to be superstars’

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Nathan Horton is the cagey vet on one of the hottest units in hockey, and thinks there are bright days ahead for his young linemates.

“These two guys [Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen] are going to be superstars,” Horton said, per the Blue Jackets’ Rob Mixer. “It’s awesome to play with them.”

After missing the first half of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, Horton debuted for Columbus on Jan. 2 and has been solid, scoring four goals and 10 points in 16 games. But the 28-year-old found a spark after getting onto the Jenner-Johansen line — since the move the trio has really been clicking, going for six points in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Florida and three more in Monday’s big 4-2 win in Anaheim.

Johansen, 21, is having a breakthrough campaign. The fourth overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has already posted career-highs in goals (23), assists (20) and points (43) through 56 games, the 23 tallies tying him with the likes of John Tavares and Marian Hossa on the NHL leaderboard.

“I like playing with him,” Horton told Fox Sports Ohio. “He’s got great vision. He does everything. We’ve seen it (recently) with the goals he’s scored. This guy has it. He’s got all the tools.”

Jenner, 20, has also turned in on in recent weeks. After a tough start in which he scored just five points in his first 25 games and was made a healthy scratch, Jenner now has eight in his last 13 and has emerged as one of the club’s most physical players, sitting fourth among all CBJ forwards with 135 hits.

“I’m not sure what he’s going to be like when he’s 26 or 27 years old, when he hits his prime,” head coach Todd Richards said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “But I don’t know if there are too many guys who are going to want to play against him when he’s that old. You watch him play as a young kid against these guys now, and they struggle to play against him.

“He’s so strong. He’s tenacious. Those are great qualities to have.”

The Jackets head into tonight’s action sitting third in the Metropolitan Division, just three points back of the second-place Rangers. Should the Horton-Johansen-Jenner trio continue to play as well as it has, Columbus could be primed to make the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

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

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.