Martin St. Louis

St. Louis making the most of opportunity with Rangers


Martin St. Louis has experienced the widest range of emotions this spring, from on the ice in the Stanley Cup playoffs with the New York Rangers to the sudden and tragic passing of his mother.

He has since become arguably the most inspirational figure in these playoffs, helping the Rangers battle their way to the Stanley Cup Final against the L.A. Kings, with six goals – including two game winners – and 13 points in 20 post-season games. Now, at the age of 38, he’s back in the championship series for the first time in 10 years following that blockbuster trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the deadline.

It’s been a whirlwind journey this season for the skilled forward. Left off Canada’s Olympic roster, then, because of an injury to Steven Stamkos, St. Louis was named to the team that went on to win gold in Sochi, to a trade from a team he spent 12 full seasons with to the bright lights of New York, and through the spring.

“At the end of the day,I made that move thinking of this opportunity, to have this chance to play in a Stanley Cup Final,” St. Louis told reporters.

Standing at just 5’8″ tall, St. Louis has already had to fight through more than most players in the league simply because of his size. But losing a family member during an already intense time of the year is completely different.

He’s persevered. His teammates have been there for him, attending his mother’s funeral. The Rangers have rallied. They were trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the second round and looked on their way to a sure defeat.

In the wake of the tragedy their teammate faced, they came together to beat Pittsburgh, then rolled past the Montreal Canadiens to claim the East.

“When it happened we were in a tough spot. We put ourselves in a big hole by losing two at home. Flying to Pittsburgh it felt like things could not get any worse and then you find that out and you realize that thing can actually get worse,” said New York’s goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

“We just came together as a group. We acted the right way … to be there for Marty and his family but at the same time you have to do what you can to play your absolute best.”

St. Louis has been grateful.

“My teammates have been nothing but supportive, with everything. You come to a new team, the support I got was great, but then with the situation with my mom, even greater support then.”

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.