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Blackhawks’ Panarin apologizes for racially ‘insensitive comments’ from 2012


Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin apologized for racially “insensitive remarks” he made in a Russian TV interview from 2012, issuing a statement to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine.

“In 2012, I was a guest on a Russian TV show and made insensitive comments that I deeply regret,” Panarin said. “I understand my comments are offensive and I apologize for my hurtful words.”

The Blackhawks issued a statement to the Tribune, too, stating that they “immediately addressed the matter with him” and that his comments “in no way represent the values of our organization.”

Specifics about where/when the interview took place are a little fuzzy, though Panarin himself mentions that they came in 2012. The “insensitive comments” come around the 7:10 mark of this video, unearthed by Blackhawks blog Faxes from Uncle Dave:

Panarin appeared to make the joke in response to a question “What could you never do,” as Second City Hockey, Hine and others note.

There’s no mention of a specific reprimand (whether it be a fine or a suspension) for the 25-year-old forward. There is some precedent for teams disciplining players for making unacceptable comments, as you may remember with Garret Sparks and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Video: Zibanejad grabs another OT winner, Rangers slip by Lightning


Injuries and inconsistency have made for a slightly disappointing first season for Mika Zibanejad with the New York Rangers, but there are flashes of the brilliance many expected.

He’s shown those game-breaking abilities in sudden death situations, in particular, lately.

Zibanejad ended up scoring the lone goal to decide the goalie duel between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Antti Raanta, giving the Rangers a 1-0 OT win. The Tampa Bay Lightning keep carving out points, but couldn’t get that key extra one thanks to this nice finish, set up by Ryan McDonagh:

Nice, right? For your click’s worth, Zibanejad scored this cheeky OT-winner against the Devils on Feb. 25:

Thornton gets 1,000th assist as Sharks hurt Jets’ playoff chances


If you’re in the mood to troll a San Jose Sharks fan celebrating Joe Thornton‘s 1,000th assist and a nice win, note that the team indirectly helped the hated Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Yes, by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in regulation, they improved the outlook for other West wild card hopefuls, from the Stars and Kings to other teams like the St. Louis Blues.

Of course, the Sharks also fattened their lead in the Pacific to the point that it’s looking like a pretty robust edge, so you probably won’t get much mileage out of trolling. Here’s how the race for the last West spot looks now:

Final wild card spot in West: Blues, 69 points in 64 games

Kings – 68 in 65 GP
Jets – 66 in 67 GP
Stars – 64 in 66 GP (after beating the Capitals)
Canucks – 63 in 65 GP

Nights like these make you wonder if it will ultimately come down to the Kings vs. Blues, especially with the Calgary Flames more interested in seeding in the Pacific than wild card concerns at 76 points. Winnipeg’s chances of making a real push took a blow in this one.

Meanwhile, Thornton became the 13th player to collect at least 1,000 assists. There was some nice symmetry to “Jumbo Joe” doing so in his 900th game as a member of the Sharks (1,432 overall).

It came on an empty-netter scored by … you probably guessed it, Joe Pavelski:

Senators grab significant regulation win against Bruins


The Montreal Canadiens have gotten back on track, so it remains to be seen if the Ottawa Senators really have a chance to win the Atlantic. Either way, they got a pretty big win on Monday.

Ottawa managed to beat the Boston Bruins in regulation (4-2), strengthening their lead for second in the division while also putting the top spot in reasonable reach:

Atlantic’s top four

1. Canadiens – 82 points in 66 games played
2. Senators – 78 in 64 GP
3. Bruins – 74 in 66 GP

Maple Leafs – 70 in 64 GP

As you can see, this win leaves the Senators comfortably ahead of the Bruins with more points and more games in hand. They also have games in hand to make things interesting with Montreal.

The Bruins, meanwhile, must worry about the Maple Leafs taking the third spot a little bit more after this outcome.

Ottawa is riding some nice play from Alex Burrows (one goal, one assist) along with expected contributions from the likes of Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson. Craig Anderson also enjoyed a strong Monday:

Boston has to be pretty happy about the way things have been going lately (including a solid 8-3-0 mark under Bruce Cassidy), but the edge went to Ottawa tonight.

Lehtonen, Stars end Capitals’ home streak at 15 games


If you look at the Dallas Stars’ season record, you wouldn’t think they would be the team to end the Washington Capitals’ remarkable 15-game run of wins at home. If you consider the season Kari Lehtonen‘s been having, you wouldn’t expect him to be the main reason why.

That was very much the case on Monday, however, as Lehtonen put together a remarkable performance (stopping 42 out of 44 shots) as Dallas held on for a 4-2 win against Washington.

For whatever reason, the Stars just have the Capitals’ number (and looking at his splits, Lehtonen’s been pretty good against Washington in general).

Meanwhile, Braden Holtby seems to struggle against the Stars:

(More on Holtby’s tough night here.)

Hmm, maybe we should have seen this coming, after all? Dallas has that streak against Washington, and this marks the second-consecutive 40+ save win for Lehtonen.

While there was frustration for the Capitals, the outcome enlivens the Stars more than it hurts Washington. They still seem like a long shot to make a run, but a playoff push seems at least conceivable:

Last wild card spot: Blues, 69 points in 64 games played

Kings – 68 points in 65 GP
Jets – 66 in 66 (in action against the Sharks)
Stars: 64 in 66
Canucks – 63 in 65

A five-point difference sounds easier to surmount than it really is, at least in an era of frequent “three-point games,” but at least the Stars have some hope.

And, with the way that top players like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg are heating up, the Stars could be a scary dark horse. Just imagine if this “great goaltending” thing isn’t just a passing fad …