Jason Brough

Sweeney concedes Bruins’ defense is a ‘work in progress’

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Despite calling his defense a “work in progress” — which is a nice way of saying it’s not all that great — Bruins GM Don Sweeney doesn’t intend to do anything rash as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches.

“I think you have to be of a mindset to grow it,” Sweeney told the Boston Herald. “That may seem counterintuitive to a player we traded in that light (Dougie Hamilton), though circumstances may have dictated otherwise.

“But I firmly believe we have players in the pipeline and we’re going to look to continue to improve that, be it through trade, be it through free agency, or whatever way.”

The Bruins did draft a defenseman with one of their three first-round picks in June; they got Jakub Zboril 13th overall. They also selected d-men Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon 37th and 52nd overall, respectively.

So, Sweeney’s not wrong. They do have some players in the pipeline.

Still, it’ll be a while before those guys are ready to make an impact, if they ever do make an impact. With that in mind, we wonder if the B’s might pursue a proven NHLer like Dustin Byfuglien. Perhaps not at the trade deadline, but in free agency if he’s still available July 1.

Byfuglien in a Bruins jersey.

Yeah, we could picture that.

Related: Jack Edwards says there’s ‘no alpha dog on the way’ for Bruins blue line

Sharks have won four straight, are ‘starting to get our confidence’

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Joe Pavelski nearly forgot how it felt to win at home. After winning a second straight game in their own building, the San Jose Sharks seem to be getting their swagger back.

Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi each scored during the shootout and Martin Jones stopped both Edmonton shooters to give the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 victory over the Oilers on Thursday night.

“It was a great effort by the guys,” Pavelski said. “That’s the first time we’ve won two in a row in a while. Just a little momentum with our game overall. We played well and we get a couple wins.”

Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored in the first period and the Sharks won their fourth straight and built a home winning streak for the first time all season.

“It’s important to put a couple wins together,” Vlasic said. “Now we’ve got four in a row. We’re climbing in the standings. You want to keep it going.”

Nail Yakupov scored, but the Oilers fell to 0-4-3 in their last seven road games. Edmonton coach Todd McLellan returned to San Jose for the first time since leaving the team after the end of last season.

“It was odd walking out on the ice but once the game started it felt like a regular game,” McLellan said. “I thought our penalty kill rebounded well against a very dangerous team. I know that team well and for us to play the way we did we have to pleased.”

Jones stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Sharks while Cam Talbot saved 36 of 37 shots.

“We’re feeling comfortable,” Sharks center Joe Thornton said. “All four lines have been contributing and Jonesy has been great. We’re starting to get our confidence. We didn’t have a lot of energy but we brought enough to win. It’s a good sign.”

Brent Burns took a shot near the end of the overtime that went into the net but did so just after the buzzer.

Vlasic took a pass from Melker Karlsson, skated into an open area and fired the puck over Talbot’s right shoulder to put the Sharks ahead midway through the first.

The Oilers tied it midway through the second period on a counter attack. Lauri Korpikoski sent a leading pass to Yakupov, who beat Jones under his right arm.

Yakupov returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 25, missing 22 games to an ankle injury. He scored his third goal, all on the road, and the first since netting goals in back-to-back games Oct. 17-18.

“I was fresh I guess and so hungry for the game that I was trying to create some chances and waiting for a chance,” Yakupov said. “I happened to get one tonight.”

Yakupov nearly had another goal in the third, firing one off the left post that bounced to a Sharks defender.

NOTES: McLellan spent the past seven years leading the Sharks and received an enthusiastic welcome when he was shown on the video board for the first time. … F Zack Kassian made his Oilers debut after completing a substance abuse program and spending a few days in the AHL. … Sharks C Joe Thornton has points in 12 of his last 13 games and has 57 points in 52 games against Edmonton. … Oilers D Justin Schultz recorded an assist and has four points in his last four games. … The Sharks host the Dallas Stars on Saturday. … The Oilers return home Saturday to face the Calgary Flames.

Bonino out ‘at least a month’ with hand injury

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 5: Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins is tripped by Phillip Danault #24 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the game at Consol Energy Center on January 5, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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When Nick Bonino was sent back to Pittsburgh with an undisclosed injury, it didn’t seem like good news would be forthcoming.

It wasn’t.

Bonino is expected to be out of the Penguins’ lineup for “at least a month,” general manager Jim Rutherford said today, per the Post-Gazette.

The 27-year-old center has a hand injury, presumably suffered when he blocked a shot Tuesday in Carolina.

Bonino has been limited to just three goals and seven assists in 40 games, but he’s one of the Penguins’ top penalty killers, and the Penguins have the fifth-best PK in the NHL.

Pittsburgh plays in Tampa tomorrow.

Lemieux, Burkle refute report — ‘There is no disagreement between us’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 7:  Mario Lemieux addresses the crowd during the unveil of the Mario Lemieux statue at Consol Energy Center on March 7, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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It’s yet another day for damage control in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins are refuting a report in the New York Post that co-owner Mario Lemieux was “miffed” at his fellow co-owner, billionaire Ron Burkle, for “messing up the sale of” the franchise.

“There is no disagreement between us, and we remain completely aligned in both approach and philosophy,” the co-owners said in a statement released to the Tribune-Review. “We continue to explore all of our strategic options, including a possible sale.

“There is not, and has never been, an established price for the team, and we are still in conversations with potential buyers,”

The Post, citing three sources, reported that Lemieux “wanted to accept” a recent bid for the Penguins, but that Burkle “turned it aside” in the belief that the franchise was worth more.

More Penguins damage control:

‘It’s absolutely not true’ — Lemieux denies report of ‘big falling out’ with Crosby 

Penguins insist they’re not mad at each other

Hodgson sent to AHL after failing to ‘produce offensively’

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Nobody claimed Cody Hodgson on waivers, so the Nashville Predators have assigned the former 10th overall draft pick to AHL Milwaukee.

Hodgson, 25, managed just three goals and five assists in 39 games for the Preds.

“I think we were pretty honest with Cody and told him that he had to produce offensively, and he hasn’t,” GM David Poile told The Tennessean yesterday.

After Hodgson was waived, the Preds reluctantly recalled 19-year-old prospect Kevin Fiala, who has six goals and 21 points in 34 AHL games this season.

“I would’ve been happy to leave Kevin in Milwaukee all year, but desperate times call for desperate measures,” said Poile.

Fiala is expected to play tonight in Winnipeg, and it looks like he could do it on a line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal.