AP

High praise for Pavelec after Jets hold off Stars

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DALLAS (AP) Mark Scheifele has hurt the Dallas Stars even more than the other teams in the Central Division.

Scheifele scored two more goals against Dallas and narrowly missed two others, propelling the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 victory Thursday night.

At the other end, Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec made a season-high 39 saves.

Scheifele has five goals in four games between the teams this season, with the Jets winning three. He has a seven-game point streak against the Stars, with seven goals and seven assists.

“When you’re playing against teams in your division, you’ve got to buckle down,” Scheifele said. “They’re big points. Especially after the All-Star break, things ramp up.”

Dallas led 2-1 until Scheifele tied the game with 53 seconds left in the first period. He gave the Jets a 3-2 lead during a 5-on-3 power play 5:56 into the second.

The Stars just missed going ahead despite the two-man disadvantage. Jamie Benn, who had a goal and two assists, had a short-handed breakaway.

“Goalie made a good save, and then (I) kind of made a mistake in the defensive end and they put it in the back of the net,” Benn said.

Just 23 seconds later, Scheifele scored from the inside edge of the right faceoff circle.

“Go back a year and a half ago, the number of posts that (Scheifele) hit as a young guy,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “He’s got a little more poise with that puck and he’s placing it better.”

Bryan Little gave Winnipeg a 1-0 lead 6:50 into the game. John Klingberg and Benn scored for Dallas barely two minutes apart midway through the first period.

The Stars put a season-high 42 shots on goal.

Pavelec had not faced more than 37 this season. He stopped all 14 shots in a scoreless third period.

“Some high-end ones, too, on high-end shooters,” Maurice said. “The ones he could see and then a few that he didn’t see until late. He was just tracking the puck so well. Best player on the ice.

“Might be the best performance I’ve ever seen by a goaltender while I’ve been behind the bench.”

Pavelec’s teammates blocked 29 Dallas shots, including eight by Toby Enstrom. The Stars had 83 shot attempts to 43 for Winnipeg.

Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for the Stars, but gave up the puck behind the net and didn’t skate back around in time to stop Nikolaj Ehlers‘ shot for the Jets’ final goal at 12:51 of the second period.

Patrick Eaves scored at 17:58 of the second to pull the Stars to 4-3.

Winnipeg has won a season-high three consecutive games, all on the road. The Jets had nine two-game winning streaks before that.

The Stars also entered on a two-game win streak. The loss left them two points behind Winnipeg, with both teams fighting to climb into playoff position in the Western Conference.

Yes, NHL will share protected, available player lists for expansion draft

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We can debate all day how much the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights and others involved really want to do this, but they’re making the right choice with the expansion draft nonetheless. The league will make protected and available players lists available at the same time they’re shared with teams, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika.

(The NHL tweeted out as much, too.)

Could this lead to feelings being hurt or perhaps even certain sneaky deals being scuttled? Perhaps, but those are headaches that management should be expected to absorb.

The bottom line is that an expansion draft is a dream come true for armchair GMs, rumor enthusiasts, fantasy sports fans and … really, just about anyone interested in hockey. It would be a bewildering decision to try to keep all of this information locked down, even for a league that frequently garners a reputation for choosing comfort over entertainment value.

Cotsonika reports that such lists will probably be made available on June 18, though that isn’t set in stone.

(If you’re the type to take off work if a trade deadline was exciting, you might want to start drumming up excuses/putting aside vacation time/practicing your best “I’m sick” voice just in case …)

Cap Friendly provides a handy timeline for the expansion draft process:

Goalie nods: Blues give Hutton first start in two weeks

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Even though Jake Allen has played extremely well of late, Carter Hutton will get the call when the Blues take on the Coyotes in Arizona tonight.

Some of this could have to do with the opponent. The Coyotes are playing out the string on a forgettable campaign, and have lost six of their last seven. That includes a 4-1 defeat in St. Louis on Monday (in which Allen stopped 27 of 28 shots for the win).

As mentioned above, Allen has been great in March and deserves huge praise for turning his season around. He’s gone 8-1-1 this month with a remarkable .951 save percentage, allowing a mere 14 goals over his 10 appearances.

Hutton, though, has played equally well when called upon. He’s gone 4-1-0 over his last five starts, posting a .962 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. In his last outing, on Mar. 16, he allowed just one goal in a victory in San Jose.

For the Coyotes, Louis Domingue is in goal.

Elsewhere…

— A good matchup in Pittsburgh tonight, as the two defending Stanley Cup champions go head-to-head. Marc-Andre Fleury starts for the Penguins, while Corey Crawford goes for the Blackhawks.

— Calgary can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight so, unsurprisingly, it’ll go with No. 1 Brian Elliott. No word yet on who starts for the visiting Kings, though it could be Ben Bishop after Jonathan Quick lost last night in Edmonton.

Philipp Grubauer gets the call for Washington, after Braden Holtby led the Caps to victory in Minnesota on Tuesday. Grubauer will take on Calvin Pickard, who starts for the Avs.

Vegas wants ‘progressive’ head coach, says McPhee

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Golden Knights GM George McPhee continued to list the characteristics he wants from a head coach this week, explaining that he’s searching for a forward-thinking bench boss.

“We want someone who is very current on the game, who is progressive on how the game should be played,” McPhee said in a recent phone call with season ticket holders, per the club website. “We’re looking for that progressive guy that can really help us through the early years and help develop our team and our players.”

So, time to connect the dots.

Back in November, Vegas owner Bill Foley laid the initial groundwork for McPhee’s coaching profile, saying he wanted to hire an experienced head coach.

“He’s not looking for a first-termer,” said Foley. “Some may or may not be available. … I would say the coach that we name is going to be a recognizable individual.”

Among the names that have already been floated, many fit the above billing: Jack Capuano, Gerard Gallant, Ken Hitchcock and Michel Therrien, among others.

Vegas has already spoken with Gallant and reportedly made contact with Capuano as well, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Gallant was nominated for last year’s Jack Adams as the NHL’s top coach, and McPhee is familiar with Capuano, having worked as an adviser to Isles GM Garth Snow prior to taking the Golden Knights gig.

It’s also believed former Flyers head coach Craig Berube is being considered, along with current Montreal associate Kirk Muller.

 

Pre-game reading: Tonight’s Kings-Flames game could get testy

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— Up top, the Calgary Flames don’t want Matthew Tkachuk to play any differently — even though Drew Doughty called the rookie winger a “pretty dirty player” after taking the 19-year-old’s elbow to the face earlier this month.

— Tkachuk was suspended two games for that elbow. Still, there could be fireworks tonight when the Flames and the Kings meet again in Calgary. Especially after Tkachuk replied to Doughty’s remarks with the following: “I expected more from him, honestly, than to go right to the media and start complaining after a loss.” (Calgary Sun)

— TSN’s Gary Lawless thinks Sergei Bobrovsky should win the Hart Trophy over Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Lawless writes: “No other player has been as important to his team and its results as Bobrovsky has to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Take Bobrovsky off the C-bus and it’s not necessarily in the ditch but it isn’t nipping at the Capitals for the league lead.” (TSN)

— Coyotes captain Shane Doan is understandably frustrated about the lower-body injury that’s kept him out of the lineup the past six games. At 40, this could be Doan’s last year in the NHL, so hopefully he’s able to return and play at least once more in front of all his fans. (Arizona Republic)

— Golden Knights owner Bill Foley doesn’t want each team’s protected list to be made public ahead of the expansion draft. That being said, Foley is also realistic: “I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise. I think there’s going to be a lot of leaks, though. I found one thing about the NHL that … everyone talks.” (Yahoo)

— An appreciation of the Detroit Red Wings playoff streak, which will finally come to an end this season. The last time the Wings missed was 1990. As noted by Nick Cotsonika: “No player in the NHL today was in the NHL then, not even Jaromir Jagr. Nine of the franchises in the NHL today weren’t in the NHL, 10 if you include the Vegas Golden Knights, who begin play next season.” (NHL.com)

Enjoy the games!