Sweden men's ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom skates during a team practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

NHLPA is glad Backstrom got his silver medal, disappointed by timing of ban

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The NHLPA released statements from Donald Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom following the IOC’s decision to award the Washington Capitals forward and Swedish Olympian his silver medal.

Long story short, both Fehr and Backstrom, 26, expressed relief that the mistake was pointed to the Swedish doctor involved while also lamenting the fact that the matter couldn’t be cleared up in time for him to play in the gold medal game.

Here’s word from Fehr:

“We are certainly pleased that Nicklas Backstrom’s name has been cleared by the IOC ruling, allowing him to receive the silver medal that he earned with his Swedish teammates. The decision by the IOC Disciplinary Commission makes it clear that Nicklas was open and cooperative throughout the process and had clearly disclosed on his doping control form the Zyrtec-D medication he had been taking for his allergies. Moreover, it is also welcome that the decision makes clear that Nicklas had both requested and received specific advice from the Swedish Chief Medical Officer that the allergy medication he was taking would not give rise to an adverse analytical finding. Backstrom did nothing inappropriate, but merely asked for and followed medical advice from his team doctor.

It is unfortunate that his test results were not disclosed until just prior to the gold medal game on February 23, 2014, four days after the test was done. Had this matter been presented in a timely manner, it is possible that steps could have been taken to resolve this issue before the gold medal game.

Over the next few days we will of course review the decision in detail and discuss it with Nicklas.”

And here’s what Backstrom had to say:

“While I will always be disappointed that I wasn’t able to play in the gold medal game with my fellow countrymen, I’m pleased that my name has been cleared by the IOC. It is important to me that the IOC has acknowledged that I had asked for and received specific advice from my team doctor that taking this allergy medication would not be a violation. In addition, I had disclosed my use of over-the-counter medication prior to being tested.

Over the next few days I will review this decision in detail with the NHLPA.”

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.