In late March 2013, no one wanted Jussi Jokinen’s three-year, $9 million contract.
He was having an off-year with 11 points and a minus-eight rating in 33 contests, so when Carolina put him on waivers, he cleared. The Pittsburgh Penguins agreed to take him, but only for a conditional seventh-round pick and even then, the Hurricanes had to retain $900,000 of his annual cap hit.
Pittsburgh saw immediate returns on their investment as Jokinen stepped up for the battered Penguins for what was left of the 2013 campaign, but when the Penguins got healthy for the playoffs, Jokinen’s role was marginalized.
This season has been a completely different story. He scored 21 goals and 57 points in 81 games and has been an even bigger contributor in the playoffs. Jokinen scored his third game-winning goal of the 2014 postseason last night.
Granted, it was off of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal’s skate, but he showed a lot of determination on the play. More importantly, his accomplishments go far beyond his efforts last night as he now leads the team in playoff goals with six in 10 games.
“I think if you’re picking a playoff pool and you’re looking for an overtime guy or a guy that’s going to score a big goal, he’s a guy who has consistently done that,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, per the team’s website.
Jokinen, 31, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Penguins are likely to make a significant effort to re-sign him after the campaign he’s had, but if he does end up hitting the open market, it seems safe to assume that the same teams that balked at his cap hit a year ago would love to sign him at that price now.
A huge tilt on day one of the World Hockey Championships, as Canada and the USA clash in Russia. You can watch the game online using the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Canada came away with a gold medal in last year’s tournament while the United States took home the bronze. Of course, each team’s roster changes significantly every year.
The USA’s next game is tomorrow against Belarus. Canada will play Sunday against Hungary.
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.
–Here’s a feel-good story. Canucks prospect Brock Boeser is taking a girl with Down syndrome to prom. (Sportsnet)
–NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire does a lot of traveling during the playoffs. (Sports Illustrated)
–It sounds like ESPN’s Mike Wilbon isn’t a fan of the Coyotes’ latest front office hire. (ESPN)
–Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)
–Former referee Kerry Fraser wants the old charging rule to make a return. (TSN)
–Hockey is becoming more common in the North Carolina Sports Hall-of-Fame. (Charlotte Observer)
–Leafs prospect Mitch Marner’s family home caught fire prior to Game 1 of the OHL final. (Sportsnet)
The marathon is over. The Nashville Predators are back in the series.
The Predators have evened their best-of-seven second-round series with the San Jose Sharks at two-games apiece after Mike Fisher finally broke the deadlock with 8:48 remaining in the third overtime of an instant classic in these 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Fisher buried a rebound in front of the San Jose net to give the Predators a massive 4-3 win on home ice.
The goal capped off a frenetic (and lengthy) overtime session that was nothing but utter chaos at times in the opening extra frame. By the end, Fisher was almost too exhausted to describe the winner. Can you blame him?
Twice, the Sharks, who could’ve put the Predators on the brink of elimination with a win, thought they had scored the winner. Joel Ward couldn’t quite bury a wrap-around attempt before just about every player on the ice, it seemed, converged in the Nashville crease — some working to put the puck in the net, others working to keep the puck out.
The puck, somehow, never crossed the line, though some members of the Sharks raised their arms in celebration as if they had the decisive goal.
Later in the first OT period, the Sharks again thought they had won the game, only to have a lengthy and controversial review determine Joe Pavelski “…made incidental contact with Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Rinne from doing his job in the crease,” according to the league.
Adding to it all, the Predators were unsuccessful on two OT power plays. That opened the door for the Sharks, who were awarded power plays on two Shea Weber penalties in overtime but also couldn’t capitalize.
The Predators were less than five minutes away from losing this game in regulation, and going down 3-1 in the series, before James Neal tied it with 4:21 remaining.
The Dallas Stars faced the possibility of going home facing elimination. That was the scenario Thursday, as the Stars battled the St. Louis Blues in Game 4.
The previous game didn’t go well at all for the Stars. They were thumped 6-1, as things turned nasty between the two teams, and, most importantly, they fell behind in the series. There were serious questions surrounding their goalie duo that includes Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. And Tyler Seguin was ruled out for Game 4.
Yes, things weren’t working in favor of the Stars.
But after a poor start in the opening period Thursday, the Stars fought back with Cody Eakin playing the unlikely overtime hero in a crucial Game 4 win. And Lehtonen was able to settle in after allowing that Vladimir Tarasenko goal in the opening period, stopping 24 of 26 shots.
“You really do have to stay level,” Jason Spezza told the Dallas Morning News.
“It’s the best two-of-three now, it’s momentum swings. We survived some breakaways, and the last two periods we played right and we earned it.”