A shot by Philadelphia Flyers' Brayden Schenn gets past Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (41) for a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, March 16, 2014, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Penguins rally falls short as Flyers sweep weekend series


It took the Pittsburgh Penguins a while to get comfortable this afternoon and that was the difference in their 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Coming off of a 4-0 win over the Penguins on Saturday, Philadelphia seemed to have the momentum early in this game. Marc-Andre Fleury did all he could to keep the Penguins in this one earlier, but his teammates didn’t do him any favors and he ended up getting pulled with the Penguins down 3-0.

Backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff provided Pittsburgh with a solid relief effort and the Penguins rallied back, but by then the damage was done. With James Neal and Chris Kunitz sidelined over the weekend, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were both held off the board for Pittsburgh.

Crosby nearly changed that though and the story of this game when he fired a shot that hit the post just before the end of regulation time.

Wayne Simmonds was the hero today for Philadelphia, scoring two goals and an assist. For the first time in his career, he has reached the 50-point milestone.

The Flyers have jumped from the second Wild Card spot to second in the Metropolitan Division. However, even back-to-back victories against the Penguins isn’t enough to make them a threat to wrestle the division title away from the Penguins.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?