Cam Tucker

Video: Fabbri hat trick leads Blues over Flyers

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The St. Louis Blues began a six-game home stand, which includes the Winter Classic next Monday, in style.

Facing the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, the Blues recorded a 6-3 victory thanks to Robby Fabbri‘s first career hat trick, which included a terrific individual effort in the third period to give St. Louis some insurance and ultimately secure the win.

It wasn’t that long ago the sophomore forward was a healthy scratch, with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock calling on Fabbri to be more tenacious during his early-season struggles.

At the time, Fabbri had one goal and three assists in 14 games. That drought seems to be behind him. He’s now up to 11 goals and 23 points in 35 games following his performance versus the Flyers.

For Philly, that’s a particularly difficult way to come back from the holiday break.

The Flyers took a 3-2 lead early in the third period on a goal from Brayden Schenn. But then the Blues broke out for four goals — one of those being into an empty net — on five shots in the final 20 minutes.

Steve Mason takes the loss in net for Philly.

Video: Barkov hurt in Panthers shootout loss to Maple Leafs

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The youthful talent the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers both possess was on display Wednesday.

Auston Matthews scored — again. The rookie forward is up to 17 goals on the year. William Nylander also scored for Toronto, while Vincent Trocheck, 23, and Jonathan Marchessault, 26, scored for Florida.

Unfortunately, though, for the Panthers, one of their top young players, Aleksander Barkov, was forced to leave the game early in the second period with an apparent injury.

Replays show Barkov was hit up high with the puck following an offensive zone faceoff. He finished his shift, which resulted in a scoring chance at the side of the net, but he was clearly in pain after the whistle went.

The Panthers forced overtime with a pair of third-period goals but lost 3-2 in the shootout, with Mitch Marner scoring the lone goal in the deciding breakaway contest.

There was no update on Barkov from coach Tom Rowe following the game.

“Losing him is like losing (Sidney) Crosby in Pittsburgh,” said Trocheck after the game.

Indeed, it would be a huge loss for the Panthers if Barkov is forced to miss time. He has nine goals and 27 points in 35 games, but is charging along with a 57.5 per cent Corsi For rating at five-on-five this season.

Video: Carey Price with a save-of-the-year candidate

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Carey Price has done it again.

One of the most dominant goalies in the National Hockey League made one of the most spectacular saves you’re going to see this season, as he denied Ondrej Palat during Wednesday’s game.

Palat had a wide open net, and it looked like Price was completely beaten, out of position, on the play. But the Habs goalie reached out and got the paddle of his stick on the Palat re-direct attempt, getting enough of the puck to keep it out of the net.

That incredible save maintained Montreal’s 2-1 lead at the beginning of the second period.

Fleury replaces Murray in Penguins net (Updated)

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22:  Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on prior to Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a change in net for the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes, although it’s not yet known why.

Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Matt Murray in net, despite the fact the Penguins trailed only 2-1 after two periods.

Murray had been busy, making 25 saves on 27 shots, too.

Updated: Per PHT’s Adam Gretz, Mike Sullivan said Murray suffered a lower-body injury, which occurred toward the end of the second period, but the Penguins coach didn’t have any further update tonight.

Fleury stopped all 19 shots he faced in the third period and the Penguins, on goals from Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin, came back for the 3-2 victory.

Panarin deal shines spotlight on Blackhawks cap crunch

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It’s been a constant theme for the Chicago Blackhawks and general manager Stan Bowman in recent years: The salary cap crunch.

It has led to the Blackhawks being forced to trade away key components of their roster — players like Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen to name a few — and relying on younger players with cheaper contracts to make the roster and help contribute to a contending team.

Once again this season, the Blackhawks are right up against the cap. And, unless they are able to move some things around in the offseason, they’ll be up against the cap again for the 2017-18 season — an issue that was once again emphasized Wednesday when news broke that Artemi Panarin signed a two-year bridge deal worth $6 million average annual value.

CapFriendly now has the Blackhawks committing $66.6 million to 15 players for next season. (As noted by Darren Dreger in the video above, the Blackhawks will have more than $50 million dedicated next season to just seven players: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and Panarin.)

And it remains to be seen exactly where the salary cap will be for the 2017-18 campaign. Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this month that “…the cap could range from where it is now ($73 million) to a couple or so million up.”

That doesn’t leave much room for the Blackhawks, who have more than $42 million committed next season to nine forwards, including three — Tyler Motte, Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza — still on their entry-level deals.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The expansion draft could provide some relief, too, as the Vegas Golden Knights possibly could take either Marcus Kruger ($3.083 million) or Trevor van Riemsdyk ($825,000).

So there will be decisions to make going forward in order to keep the Hawks cap compliant, and another big name might have to be moved to accommodate Panarin’s new deal (though every high-priced player on the team has a no-movement clause). But keeping Panarin was the top priority, and the Hawks will have him for at least two more seasons.

How, exactly, will Bowman deal with another pending cap crunch? It remains a million dollar question.