Radek Faksa

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 25:  Nino Niederreiter #22 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Wild 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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No hearing scheduled for Niederreiter after Sharp hit

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Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Dallas’ Patrick Sharp on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

Niederreiter was given a five-minute interference and game misconduct in the late stages of the Wild’s 3-1 win.

The hit sent Sharp cartwheeling to the ice, though, upon replay, Niederreiter got his skates tangled with Radek Faksa prior to the collision. That appeared to send the Wild forward into Sharp’s path inadvertently.

As such, it’s not a big surprise the 24-year-old escaped supplementary discipline.

There was some concern about Sharp, who’s missed significant time with concussion issues this season and appeared to be shaken up on the play. Thankfully for him and the Stars, he appeared no worse for wear.

That said, Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff didn’t like the hit. At all.

“I just saw a pretty dirty hit on Sharp, that’s all I saw,” Ruff said following the game. “Cutting a guy’s knees out, that’s pretty tough.”

The Stars have an awful PK, and it’s dooming their season

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 25:  Head coach Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars looks on as the Dallas Stars take on the Winnipeg Jets in the third period at American Airlines Center on October 25, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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For the seventh straight game, the Dallas Stars surrendered at least one power-play goal. The Stars fell, 3-1, last night in Toronto, as their playoff hopes continued to fade.

“It’s kind of been the story of the season. The way we’ve been finding ways to lose is by taking penalties,” said veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis, per Sports Illustrated.

Against the Leafs, it was a penalty by Radek Faksa — for a face-off violation, of all things — that put the Stars two men down in the third period. Dallas had just scored to make it 2-1. But Toronto converted to make it 3-1, and that was that.

With a success rate of just 73.3 percent, the Stars have the worst penalty killing in the league, and they’re on pace to have the worst PK of the salary-cap era.

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Suffice to say, it is not a good look for the players or the coaching staff. When a team surrenders almost one PP goal per game, it suggests a lack of discipline and structure.

“I look at special teams, that’s on me, improving special teams,” head coach Lindy Ruff said recently, per NHL.com. “I don’t like where our penalty kill is. We’ve worked on trying to change that.”

Of course, it also suggests there may be a goaltending problem, but we knew that already. Kari Lehtonen has the worst save percentage in the league while shorthanded (.797), and Antti Niemi (.839) hasn’t been too good either.

The Stars, now seven points out of a playoff spot, take on the Sens tomorrow in Ottawa.

Stars win third straight to move into wild-card spot

Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn, left, congratulates teammate center Devin Shore (17) after Shore scored a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. The Stars won 4-2. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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DALLAS (AP) Tyler Seguin feels like the Dallas Stars have been getting better for some time. They finally have a streak that shows that.

Seguin had two goals and an assist and the Stars beat the lowly Colorado Avalanche 4-2 on Thursday night for their first three-game winning streak of the season.

“Definitely, it’s something that we’ve been needing, and obviously not enough yet,” Seguin said. “We’re making strides. It’s about playing all together. Got over the hump of two wins in a row. Got three, and want to keep going.”

After being the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs last season, the Stars are nearly halfway through this season — and moved up into eighth place with their latest win.

“Winning’s a lot of fun, so we’re going to try and keep this going,” said Jamie Benn, their captain who had three assists.

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Seguin’s 12th goal of the season, a one-timer from the middle of the left circle on a pass from Benn, put the Stars up 2-0 in the first period. He added his 13th into an empty net in the closing seconds.

Seguin and Benn assisted on Jamie Oleksiak‘s wrister from the right circle for a 3-1 lead early in the second period, right after Benn had a shot ricochet off the crossbar.

The Stars are 4-0-1 their last five games, and have won five of seven.

“We’ve played pretty sound hockey for a good period of time,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’re getting more and more guys on the scoreboard, getting our key guys, our big guys are scoring.”

Colorado has won only three of its last 17 games, and has the NHL’s worst record at 12-22-1.

“We just got to keep going, keep digging in and try to win some hockey games,” coach Jared Bednar said.

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped 13 of 14 shots before coming out of the game with 15 minutes left because of NHL concussion protocol after being barreled over by Jarome Iginla. Lehtonen was back on the bench before end of the game and Ruff said he was OK.

Antti Niemi took over in net, and about 2 1/2 minutes later gave up Mikhail Grigorenko‘s goal off a rebound that got the Avs within a goal.

Calvin Pickard started in goal for Colorado had 30 saves while Semyon Varlamov missed another game because of a groin injury.

Matt Duchene got his 400th career point late in the first period when he scored his 13th goal of the season. The net was open with Lehtonen out of position after another shot slipped under his pads. But Duchene was then shoved from behind by Radek Faksa and fell backward on the ice after his face hit the crossbar.

Duchene, the third overall pick in the 2009 draft by Colorado, became only the second member of that draft class to reach 400 NHL points. The other is New York Islanders captain John Tavares, who was the first overall pick that year and reached 400 points late in the 2014-15 season.

“I didn’t really think about it much. It’s obviously nice to get there and get that out of the way,” Duchene said. “It’s something that maybe I’ll enjoy later on in the year or after the season’s over, but it’s never really anytime to celebrate when you lose a game.”

 

Flyers’ win streak ends at 10 with loss to Stars

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 03:  Antti Niemi #31 of the Dallas Stars makes a save against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at American Airlines Center on November 3, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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One week ago the Dallas Stars were three minutes away from putting an end to the Philadelphia Flyers’ winning streak when it was still at seven games. But thanks to a series of penalties late in the game and a Brayden Schenn hat trick they were unable to hold on, allowing Philadelphia’s winning streak to continue and eventually reach double digits.

On Saturday, the Stars were able to finish the job.

Thanks to goals from Radek Faksa, Adam Cracknell and an empty netter from Jordie Benn, as well as a 31-save effort from Antti Niemi, the Stars were 3-1 winners and picked up two much-needed points in the standings as they try to hang around in the Western Conference playoff race.

While the win is big for the Stars and only their fifth in the past 13 games, they certainly did not make it easy on themselves.

After Cracknell gave the Stars the lead 2:27 into the third period, the Flyers put together a massive push down the stretch that saw them record 14 of the game’s final 19 shots on goal. The Stars also nearly experienced a repeat of last week’s game when they had to kill off a late penalty when Benn was sent to the penalty box with three-and-a-half minutes to play for hooking.

They also had a close call with less than 10 minutes to play when Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov rang a shot that could have tied the game off the crossbar behind Niemi. It was one of two posts that Provorov hit on the day.

For the Flyers, it is their first loss since Nov. 25 and keeps them in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the first place Pittsburgh Penguins. They still have an eight-point lead over the Florida Panthers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Stars, meanwhile, closed to within two points of the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames for a wild card spot in the Western Conference

 

Chicago’s Motte out 2-3 weeks after crashing heavily into boards (Video)

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The Blackhawks delivered some unfortunate news on Tuesday, as head coach Joel Quenneville announced rookie forward Tyler Motte would miss the next 2-3 weeks with a lower-body ailment.

Motte, who has six points through 13 games this year, was hurt during Sunday’s win over Dallas after getting tangled with Radek Faksa, and crashing heavily into the boards.

Though his play has been up-and-down, Motte has been one of the rookies Quenneville’s leaned on most this season.

Of the five freshman to suit up — Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Gustav Forsling and Vinnie Hinostroza are the others — Motte sits first in points and second in TOI per game, at 12:37 per.