Columbus trying to figure out ‘the right thing to do’ with Johansen

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After negotiations for Ryan Johansen’s new deal got off to a less-than-stellar start, Columbus president of hockey ops John Davidson took an interesting approach on Friday — discussing the situation publicly for the first time.

“Jarmo [Kekalainen, Columbus GM] is still working with Johansen’s camp. We’re a team that feels that if we have players that earn it, we will certainly respond with appropriate contracts,” Davidson explained, per the Columbus Dispatch. “We’re in a position here where we’re working with their camp, trying to figure out what exactly is the right thing to do.”

Johansen, 21, is coming off a monster breakout season in which he finished tied for 11th in the NHL in goals (33) and led the Jackets in points, with 63. He was a huge reason Columbus made the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history and performed well in his postseason debut, scoring six points in six games against Pittsburgh.

But that doesn’t mean Columbus is backing up the Brinks truck.

For all that Johansen did last year, it’s still just one year’s worth of work. And remember — this is a player who, at the end of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, was benched by Columbus’ minor-league affiliate in Springfield due to lackadaisical play.

According to the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, rumors that Johansen wants a deal of four-plus years while Columbus wants a two-year bridge contract are probably accurate. That disparity in term is why Johansen was so irate following the opening round of negotiations:

“We’re not even close,” Johansen told The Dispatch. “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.

“I’ve earned more than a two- or three-year deal with my play,” Johansen said. “It seems a little disrespectful, to be honest.”

Since an offer sheet seems highly unlikely — Kekalainen’s already said he’d match anything another team puts forth — it sounds as though we’re in for a good ol’ fashioned staring contest between Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, and Davidson.

“We like Ryan Johansen, obviously. Who wouldn’t? But we’ve got to make sure,” JD explained. “We have to be a responsible club regarding long-term contracts.

“If Ryan keeps the upward trend, he’s going to have a long and very fruitful career. But we have to make sure we protect ourselves.”

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby shifts into high gear, Carlson clobbers Malkin

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You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.

The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.

It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.

MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start

That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.

Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.

Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.

There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?

Buckle up.

Video: Crosby scores two goals in 52 seconds vs. Capitals

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.

To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.

Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below: