Ryan Johansen

With Dubinsky locked up, Jackets’ next task is re-signing Johansen

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When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Brandon Dubinsky to a six-year, $35.1 million contract extension, they were tying themselves to the man that might become the team’s captain.

He’s not their best player though nor does he claim to be. He feels that distinction will — perhaps already does — belong to Ryan Johansen, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The two share an agent and while Dubinsky described the negotiations for his contract extension as painless, it looks like Johansen’s have been more complicated.

“We’re not even close,” Johansen said in June. “They say ‘We want to sign you to a ‘bridge’ deal.’ We say ‘We don’t want to do a ‘bridge,’ and that’s the end of it.”

Johansen, who is a restricted free agent, described the Blue Jackets actions at the time as “disrespectful” and “like a slap in the face.”

Of course, it’s not hard to figure out why Dubinsky’s negotiations would go differently. He’s a known quantity at this point while Johansen, 21, only has one great season under his belt. Johansen scored 33 goals and 63 points in 82 games and was highly regarded even before that, but for Columbus to assume that he will just continue to steadily grow would be risky.

On top of that, Columbus is negotiating from a position of strength with the 21-year-old forward while Dubinsky could have simply walked away as an unrestricted free agent next summer if he didn’t like what was on the table.

“It’s important – not only me selfishly, to want him signed up and in the lineup to help our team win – but it’s important for our organization and it’s important for him. He wants to be a big part of this organization,” Dubinsky said.

Columbus was put in a similar position last season when goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky wrapped up his entry-level contract by winning the Vezina Trophy. That process was arguably even more complicated because there was the looming threat of him going to the KHL. At one point it looked like Columbus might even trade his rights, but they eventually agreed to a two-year bridge contract worth $11.25 million.

Perhaps the talks with Johansen will come to a similar conclusion.

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.