Cam Tucker

Video: Ryan Johansen scores on his first shot in Predators debut

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Welcome to the Nashville Predators, Ryan Johansen.

Making his debut for the Predators on Friday, following a blockbuster trade from Columbus earlier this week, Johansen scored on his first shot on goal, beating Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov with a wrist shot from a difficult angle on the power play.

It didn’t take a long time to make an impact. First shot, first goal, which came 2:35 into the game.

Video: As Ovechkin closes in on 500 goals, take a look back at the best of his career

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It’s possible that by the time the weekend is over, Alex Ovechkin could hit another career milestone — 500 NHL goals.

The Washington Capitals star, now 30 years old, is sitting on 497 goals. The Capitals play the New York Rangers on Saturday, and, as Dan Rosen of NHL.com pointed out, there is the chance Ovechkin could hit 500 in what would be his 800th regular season game. He would need a hat trick, of course. But it’s possible.

If he doesn’t get there Saturday, he can achieve that mark the following day against the Ottawa Senators.

From NHL.com:

Ovechkin also would become the first Russian-born player to score 500 goals in the NHL. He became the leading scorer among Russian-born NHL players earlier this season, when he passed Sergei Fedorov by scoring his 484th goal on Nov. 19.

“I think the Russian one got a lot of play, when he passed Fedorov, and I think he was more nervous on that one than he is now,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s going to score a lot more than 500 goals, I’m pretty sure on that. It’s a big milestone. I think he’s got other milestones that he wants to achieve as well, but 500 will be nice.”

But one of his best — one of those efforts that could make fans jump out of their seats — came against the then Phoenix Coyotes, coach at the time by none other than Wayne Gretzky.

And as Ovechkin approaches this milestone, this goal is certainly worth another look.

Benning expects newly acquired Etem to regain scoring touch for Canucks

Benning
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Emerson Etem has been a scorer in the past, with the Medicine Hat Tigers in junior, and a solid point producer in the American Hockey League as well.

Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning is hoping that same speed and skill Etem has shown in previous years — and at times in the NHL — can translate into a much needed offensive threat in Vancouver.

The Canucks acquired Etem from the New York Rangers on Friday in exchange for Nicklas Jensen, a former first-round pick that saw more and more prospects in Vancouver’s system surpass him over the last two years.

In 2011-12, Etem scored 61 goals and 107 points in 65 games for the Tigers after he had been taken late in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Anaheim Ducks.

In his second full season in the AHL, Etem produced at better than a point-per-game rate. He hasn’t come close to producing those same lofty numbers in the NHL — in 131 career games and he was without a goal in 19 games in New York prior to the deal — but Benning clearly sees potential for that to change with the Canucks.

“He’s a guy that is going to bring us speed and he’s got strength to get to the net,” Benning told TSN 1040 on Friday.

“He’s proven he can score in the past and so I expect him, when he comes in here and gets his confidence, to be a scorer for us.”

Benning believed a fresh start could also benefit Jensen, who opened eyes for at least a couple of weeks with three goals and six points in 17 games with the Canucks on a recall in 2013-14. He had been playing for the AHL’s Utica Comets and will stay in the minors — for now, anyway.

Meanwhile, Canucks speedy forward Jannik Hansen, who suffered an injury against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, has been put on injured reserve, as per the team’s website.

 

Boston Pride’s Denna Laing suffered a ‘significant spinal injury’ at Outdoor Women’s Classic

2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Women's Hockey Classic
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Denna Laing, Boston Pride forward in the National Women’s Hockey League, suffered a significant spinal injury at the Outdoor Women’s Classic, the league announced in a statement Friday.

The league said doctors continue to evaluate her status. The Laing family released a statement:

“Denna was thrilled to be taking part in the inaugural season of the National Women’s Hockey League and was absolutely delighted to be one of the pioneers in a breakthrough moment for her sport – the Outdoor Women’s Classic,” the Laing family said in a statement.

“Tragically, Denna suffered a severe spinal cord injury playing the sport she loves. As of today, Denna has limited movement of her arms and no feeling in her legs. Our prayer going forward is that Denna can be moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a Rehabilitation Center and continue to fight everyday with her trademark grit and resolve.

“With respect to her long term prognosis, right now there are more questions than answers. We have received an incredible outpouring of love and support from countless friends and family members while we try to navigate this overwhelming situation. We are eternally grateful to everyone who continues to offer support as we take on this challenge together.”

NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said in a statement that players around the league will wear a sticker with the No. 24 on their helmets in tribute to Denna Laing.

There was an outpouring of support from around the hockey world on Twitter, offering thoughts and prayers for Laing and her family.

“Everyone at the National Hockey League, including the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, joins Denna Laing’s coaches, teammates, friends and fans in wishing Denna the very best as she confronts the challenges ahead,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.

“While we are certain Denna will be served well by the tenaciousness that is her trademark, we also will work with the Laing family to rally the support of the hockey family during Denna’s rehabilitation.”

Video: Capitals’ Johansson suspended two games for hit to head of Islanders’ Hickey

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Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson has been suspended two games for an illegal hit to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey.

The hit occurred in the first period of Thursday’s game and resulted in a minor penalty to Johansson. Hickey did play the remainder of the game.

But on Friday, the league deemed the incident was worthy of supplemental discipline.

In the video, the NHL Department of Player Safety determined that Johansson could’ve delivered a “potentially legal hit” but instead, he extended “upward, delivering a blow directly to the head of Hickey. This extension makes the head the main point of contact on a hit where head contact is avoidable.”

Naturally, following the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz defended his player and the hit.

“Their guy was putting the puck into the zone. Marcus came into him and got him with a shoulder. Marcus is not that type of player at all,” said Trotz.

“It’s unfortunate, but (Hickey) was bent over when he shot it. His head came down a little bit and Marcus was trying to hit him through the crest (on his jersey). I didn’t think there was anything malice or anything vicious on it. It was just a hard hit.”

The Capitals have two games this weekend: On the road against the New York Rangers on Saturday and at home against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.