Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon tries to score on Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)

Fleury leads battered Penguins to victory over Avalanche


The Penguins were missing Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Marcel Goc, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, and Olli Maatta tonight…but they still had goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He kicked out 39 shots in regulation to lead them to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Pittsburgh also had forward Brandon Sutter, who logged 23:33 minutes with most of the team’s top-six forwards sidelined, and scored two goals in the span of 3:22 minutes. Jussi Jokinen made his return tonight and registered an assist before beating Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the shootout.

Although he came up short, Varlamov also had a good night, stopping 30 of 32 shots. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in regulation in a single contest since March 25.

The Avalanche aren’t dealing with the sheer volume of injuries that Pittsburgh has, but it is worth noting that they were missing top scorer Matt Duchene. Despite that, the Avalanche rallied back from a 2-0 deficit and Patrick Bordeleau bought the team a point with his goal at 16:47 of the third period.

Pittsburgh’s already locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference, so these two points won’t impact the Eastern Conference standings. It does have meaning to the Chicago Blackhawks though as they try to close the gap between them and the Colorado Avalanche in the battle for the second seed in the Central Division.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.