James O'Brien

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Owner to Thornton, Wilson: ‘What happens with Sharks, stays with Sharks’

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Hockey fans don’t hear the name Hasso Plattner (pictured prominently on the right) very often, but then again, big-name players don’t usually tell their GMs to “shut their mouths” every day, either.

Things have gotten ugly enough – or really, ugly in public enough – for the San Jose Sharks’ owner to step in to squash Doug Wilson and Joe Thornton’s squabble, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Plattner used a famous Las Vegas tagline to try to cool each sides’ jets (or at least keep things in-house).

Via email, Hasso Plattner confirmed he talked to both Joe Thornton and Doug Wilson. Asked what he said, he replied, “What happens (with) the Sharks stays with the Sharks. All good.”

As Friedman notes, Thornton has a lot of power thanks to the no-trade clause on his contract, which just kicked in this season (after being inked before his last one expired in 2013-14).

It’s been quite the drama ever since the Los Angeles Kings pulled a “reverse sweep” on the Sharks, leading to Thornton being stripped of the captaincy and a summer full of strange, sometimes contradictory statements about rebuilding-or-maybe-not from Sharks management.

All this time, it seemed to be a situation that was handled by typical faces like Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan, but now Plattner becomes a more public owner than he’s been before (or at least has in recent memory). One would imagine he might not be very thrilled with that, and considering the message to focus on the playoffs … things could get messy if San Jose falls short of the postseason for the first time in many years.

Wild win as Dubnyk befuddles Blues

Jordan Schroeder, Devan Dubnyk
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The Western Conference’s bubble teams aren’t lying down by any means, so the Minnesota Wild still need to stay hot. Not too surprisingly, that means that they’ll continue to lean on Devan Dubnyk.

He came through in a big way – again – on Saturday, making 41 out of 42 saves as the Wild beat the St. Louis Blues 3-1.

By his lofty terms, the 28-year-old stumbled ever so slightly in losing two of his previous three games while not seeing an overwhelming amount of shots. That changed in a big way tonight, as he was up to a considerable task as the Blues lost despite generating a 42-19 shot advantage.

With this win in tow, Dubnyk’s Wild stats are pretty ridiculous.

He’s now an impressive 19-5-1 with a .937 save percentage and five shutouts since joining the Wild. (Dubnyk was solid with the Arizona Coyotes, but there’s no doubt that his game really took off with Minnesota.)

The Wild still face a small margin of error to hold onto the first wild card spot – or a playoff berth in general – yet wins like these could end up being the difference-maker (which might be just be the perfect nickname for Devan Dubnyk).

Habs ride brilliant Price performance to win vs. Isles

P.K. Subban, Carey Price
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If you look at Saturday’s Montreal Canadiens – New York Islanders game as a showcase between two potential Hart Trophy candidates (rather than two East contenders), then Carey Price got the best of John Tavares tonight.

Price was brilliant once again for Montreal, stopping 35 out of 36 shots as the Habs beat the Islanders 3-1. Tavares created some great chances – as usual – yet Price was game for all of his six shots on net.

Price’s stop on Matt Martin was probably the sexiest highlight of them all, though:

In reality, this wasn’t just about two stars, especially since there were plenty of other standout talents on the ice like P.K. Subban. It was a great night for Max Pacioretty (a goal on a gaffe by Michal Neuvirth) and a not-so-great evening for Kyle Okposo and Johnny Boychuk, who both suffered with -3 ratings.

The out-of-town scoreboard was also friendly to the Canadiens and unfriendly to the Islanders. While the Tampa Bay Lightning muffed their chance to keep pace with Montreal, the New York Rangers took care of business against the Buffalo Sabres. That leaves the Habs strongly in first place in the Atlantic Division while the Isles face an uphill battle to catch the Rangers in the Metro.

Both teams seem like they’re on the upswing overall, but it was Montreal that took a step forward tonight.

Kucherov goes from hero to goat as Jets best Bolts

Dallas Stars v Tampa Bay Lightning
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For a while there, it looked like Nikita Kucherov might have made the difference for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Some would counter that he eventually did so for the Winnipeg Jets, instead.

Kucherov scored his 26th goal of 2014-15 in the third period to finally break the ice in Saturday’s game, yet his major penalty for boarding Tobias Enstrom opened the door for Winnipeg to tie the contest and eventually win 2-1.

Here’s video of the check:

Enstrom returned late in the contest, and some argue that the Jets blueliner put himself in a vulnerable position on the check, for whatever that’s worth. Kucherov described the situation as an accident:

It’s probably not totally fair to pin things on Kucherov, really, especially since it was such a close game before he scored his goal and took that penalty.

Regardless, the bottom line is that Drew Stafford scored the tying tally on the power play and Blake Wheeler notched the game winner.

One other sure thing: the Jets moved back into the West’s final wild card spot … at least as of this writing. The Jets now have 80 points with 69 games played while the Los Angeles Kings are at 79 points in 67 contests (with their 68th just underway against the Nashville Predators).

Perhaps Ondrej Pavelec feels a touch amused by this situation? During the same week that he gave up a turning point goal, he saw the opposing team take a self-destructive penalty to help his team win.

Either way, Winnipeg really needed this one, and they got a big win in a dramatic fashion.

Quick study: Rangers’ Skapski nabs shutout in second NHL start

New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres
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Few probably heard of Mackenzie Skapski before February – many probably remarked “That can’t be a real name” – but he’s done a nice job in his first career NHL starts.

Three weeks after winning in his league debut with the New York Rangers, he stopped all 20 Buffalo Sabres shots for his first career shutout as New York blanked Buffalo 2-0 on Saturday.

Yes, it’s true that the degree of difficulty wasn’t awfully high, considering the low volume of shots and the low regard of the Sabres as an opponent.

Still, after leaning so heavily on Cam Talbot, the Rangers have to feel a little bit better about turning to their oddly named third option when needed.

Again, it’s clear that he’s doing the most with his opportunities so far:

Hey, he’s already getting ragged on by teammates, too: