Jason Brough

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Penguins to hold moment of silence for Dan Rooney

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Pittsburgh sports fans will have the opportunity tonight to honor one of the most beloved owners in pro sports history.

Dan Rooney passed away yesterday at the age of 84. A moment of silence to remember the longtime Steelers owner will be held prior to Game 2 of the Penguin-Blues Jackets series at PPG Paints Arena.

David Morehouse, the Penguins’ president and CEO, said Rooney “personified everything that’s good about Pittsburgh.

“He was committed, humble, hard-working, loyal and never forgot where he came from,” Morehouse told the Post-Gazette. “He’s an example for all of us in how he lived his life and how he ran a sports team, which I think is one of the most successful sports teams in the history of sports.”

Penguins owner Mario Lemieux added, “Mr. Rooney was an amazing man who made such tremendous contributions to the NFL, the City of Pittsburgh and the people of our community. I feel very fortunate to have known him. He impacted many of our lives, and he left a legacy that makes us all proud to be Pittsburghers.”

Rooney’s father, Art, founded the Steelers, and also used his influence to help the city land the Penguins in the 1967 expansion.

Leafs don’t expect Zaitsev to play Game 2

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Don’t expect Nikita Zaitsev back for Game 2 of the Maple Leafs-Capitals series.

Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman did not skate today, and is unlikely to play tomorrow in Washington.

Zaitsev missed Thursday’s Game 1 loss with an upper-body injury, possibly a concussion.

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“I don’t expect him back in,” said Babcock. “He didn’t go on the ice today. I was lobbying the best I could today, but they don’t much care what I say.”

By “they,” Babcock presumably meant the Maple Leafs’ medical staff.

Despite last night’s 3-2 overtime defeat, the head coach was encouraged by his team’s performance.

“I thought a confidence builder for sure,” Babcock said. “I liked our game.”

Oilers need to ‘stay out of the box’ against Sharks

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It was a spirited Edmonton team that made its long-awaited return to the playoffs.

Perhaps a bit too spirited.

The aggressive Oilers ended up shorthanded six times against the Sharks, whose comeback Wednesday started with a power-play goal early in the second period.

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It wasn’t just the goal that hurt the Oilers, either. It was all the time they had to spend on the kill.

“We went over why the game turned, and it’s pretty simple,” forward Jordan Eberle said, per the Edmonton Journal. “We got caught a lot with long shifts and just didn’t have any energy. You get a guy like Brent Burns spending 10 minutes on the power play, it’s not going to help your cause.”

The Oilers led 2-0 after 20 minutes of Game 1. But the Sharks were in control from the second period onward, and they eventually won it, 3-2, in overtime.

Game 2 goes tonight in Edmonton.

“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” said Eberle.

A remarkable turnaround for Jake Allen

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He was better in February, and brilliant in March.

Now he’s the hottest goalie in the NHL, coming off a 51-save triumph Wednesday in Minnesota.

Not bad for a guy who was so messed up mentally that his coach left him at home for a road trip in January.

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Indeed, it’s been quite the roller-coaster season for Blues goalie Jake Allen — even if he won’t admit the full extent of it.

“It was three weeks for me that was real tough, but other than that I thought I had a really good year,” Allen told reporters after he stole Game 1 for St. Louis.

It was more than three weeks, Jake.

Allen’s save percentage was .903 in November, and .892 in December. By that point, he was already upset about his numbers. Then January hit and things really went south. That month he finished with a ghastly .841 save percentage, and head coach Ken Hitchcock was fired on the first day of February.

It may not be a coincidence that Allen’s numbers improved the moment Mike Yeo took over behind the bench.

“Hitch had a short leash, probably shorter than most coaches in the league,” Allen told the Post-Dispatch at the end of the regular season. “That’s just the way he is; he was never going to change. That wasn’t something that I was going to be able to talk him out of.”

And Yeo?

“He tells you what he wants out of you and it’s pretty straightforward,” Allen said. “I really respect that and he’s a guy that I love to play for. He always comes to the rink with the right mindset, the right attitude, and it rubs off on us. It rubs off on me.”

Game 2 of the Blues-Wild series goes tonight in Minnesota.

A rough Game 1 for Schmaltz, who needs to be better

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Nick Schmaltz‘s first NHL playoff game could’ve gone better.

The 21-year-old rookie was on the ice for the Nashville Predators’ only goal last night in Chicago, and he could’ve done a better job to stop it.

The goal ended up being the winner in a 1-0 Blackhawks defeat, and Schmaltz found himself demoted to the fourth line for much of the remainder of the game.

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As you can see in the replay, Schmaltz failed to check Ryan Johansen at the blue line, taking out linemate Richard Panik in the process. Johansen was then able to get a pass to Filip Forsberg, who one-timed it for Viktor Arvidsson to tip home.

Now, granted, it was only one game. Nothing to panic about. Schmaltz will probably be back with Panik and Jonathan Toews for Game 2.

But it’s worth monitoring, because the chemistry that Schmaltz found with Toews and Panik was one of the good stories this season for the Blackhawks, who searched for much of the year for a left winger to play with their captain.

Another rookie, Tanner Kero, replaced Schmaltz last night, and Kero acquitted himself fairly well.

Bottom line: whoever ends up filling the spot alongside Toews and Panik will need to be good, otherwise it could be a problem for the ‘Hawks.