Mike Halford

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Kings praise Iginla after huge OT winner against Preds

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Jarome Iginla has spent the better part of two decades scoring clutch goals against the Western Conference’s best teams, including the Los Angeles Kings.

The 39-year-old scorer is finally on the Kings’ side, and they’ve discovered his shot is still as dangerous as ever.

Iginla scored with 1:26 left in overtime, and the Kings rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

In his third game with his new club, Iginla got his first two goals for the Kings, both on Los Angeles’ frequently struggling power play.

“It feels good, especially with a new team,” Iginla said. “To be with the guys and find some way to contribute, it’s exciting to be out there at the end in a key situation.”

The Kings acquired Iginla at the trade deadline for the playoff push, and the 20-year veteran capitalized on two big opportunities to push his low-scoring new club to another win.

“He’s a goal-scorer, and he has been for a long time,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “His first goal was a pretty easy one, but the second one was a great shot. He’s just had an unbelievable shot for so long, and he just puts pucks in the net that not many other guys can put in.”

Iginla’s first goal for the Kings was the 620th of his NHL career. He scored on a tap-in of Marian Gaborik‘s chance in the waning seconds of a power play in the second period.

After the Predators were whistled for too many men on the ice with 2:24 to play, Iginla skated in low and roofed a shot over Pekka Rinne, who made 31 saves. Just like that, Iginla had his first multi-goal game since February 2016 with Colorado.

“It’s fun, these games,” Iginla said. “There’s a lot on the line. It feels great to be back in these types of games.”

Gaborik also had the tying goal along with his assist in just his third multipoint game of the season, and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves.

Calle Jarnkrok and Kevin Fiala scored for Nashville, which has lost four straight. The Predators still took a point in each of their first two stops on a three-game California road trip despite giving up three power-play goals between Anaheim and Los Angeles.

“We are giving points away right now,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “The past couple games, we’re just making bad decisions on our part and giving points away.”

The Kings went 3 for 3 on the power play, scoring three times with the man advantage for only the second time all season.

Los Angeles has won three meetings with Nashville this season, but two Western Conference teams in desperate need of points both inched up the standings in this one.

Nashville has a precarious lead over St. Louis for third place in the Central Division, while the Kings are chasing the Blues for the second wild-card postseason spot.

Nashville took a first-period lead when Josi got the puck away from Gaborik. Jarnkrok eventually scored his 14th goal, the ninth since Jan. 1 for the two-way forward.

Fiala put the Predators back ahead when he pounced on a rebound of captain Mike Fisher‘s initial chance on a loose puck in the crease. The goal was the Swiss rookie’s first since Feb. 19 and just his third since Dec. 3.

Gaborik tied it again on the power play when Alec Martinez‘s shot hit him and he flipped it home for his eighth goal of the season.

“Well, again, it’s the power play,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “We just have to do a better job on the penalty kill.”

NOTES: Nashville D Ryan Ellis was a late scratch after re-aggravating a lower-body injury that kept him out for the second time in three games. … Nashville LW Vernon Fiddler was a healthy scratch for the first time since returning to the Predators in early February in a trade with New Jersey. The veteran has one point in 14 games with Nashville. Colton Sissons played for the first time since Feb. 21, and Fiala also returned after being a healthy scratch in Anaheim.

UP NEXT

Predators: At Sharks on Saturday.

Kings: Host Capitals on Saturday.

Claims of Canucks’ drinking culture ‘baseless and categorically false,’ says Linden

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Vancouver has responded to an Irish Times column in which Lee Chin — a hurler and Gaelic football player — expressed shock about the club’s alleged drinking culture, and slump-busting methodology.

“Our team recently accepted a request from Lee Chin and a TV show for access to an individual on-ice skills session and a game with Canucks alumni. We were disappointed to learn of the comments made in an Irish Times article about his experience,” Canucks president Trevor Linden said in a statement, per Yahoo. “The assumptions made by Lee Chin on hockey culture and reported by the Irish Times are baseless and categorically false.

“They do not reflect our players, their conduct or the culture of our game in any way.”

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Update: The Daily Hive reports that Chin released a statement apologizing for the interview. Here’s a portion of his response

“On Thursday 09 March, Chin participated in an interview that lasted a total of 25 minutes, during which he discussed at length the warm welcome he received from the Vancouver Canucks, the skill and grace of the players he met, the professional attitude and set up of the team and how he was in awe of their athleticism,” the statement reads.

“Lee did however as part of that interview speak about the players’ social lives. He accepts that what he said is not a true reflection of the culture of the Vancouver Canucks or its players and does not reflect what he witnessed during his time with the team.”

Chin’s statement noted that he was disappointed that the comments became “the focus of media commentary” and that he did not want to “call into question the professionalism of the Vancouver Canucks.”

More here.

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Chin swapped sports with former Canucks goalie Alex Auld for a Irish broadcast (RTE) program called The Toughest Trade. In it, Chin learned how to play hockey, and spent time with various members of the organization. His presence was profiled on Hockey Night in Canada.

In the Times article, Chin said he “couldn’t believe” the drinking culture in Vancouver, explaining that players were “lowering pints the day before a game.”

Chin also referenced what he says the club called a ‘change up.’

From the Irish Times:

“When a player is not on form, not scoring. The manager will call a ‘change up’, and basically that player has to go out and ruin himself for the night, then come back the next day, with the attitude of you just don’t care.

“So they send him out, drink 20 pints, go off with a couple of women, whatever he wants. And come back the next day. That’s the way they live. It’s the culture, what they believe in, letting off steam like that. I don’t know if they look at the science behind it.”

For an opposing view, here’s Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, who travels with the Canucks:

Goalie nods: Bernier gets seventh straight start in place of injured Gibson

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Jonathan Bernier will continue to shoulder starting duties for Anaheim tonight — and for the foreseeable future.

Bernier will start his seventh straight game tonight in place of the injured John Gibson, who hasn’t played since Feb. 20 due to a lower-body injury. Gibson, who is traveling with the Ducks on their current road trip, has been ruled out of tonight’s game against Chicago and Friday’s tilt in St. Louis.

As for Bernier he’s been good, but not great, since assuming the No. 1 job. He’s 3-2-0 in his last five with a .916 save percentage, which is an upgrade on his overall numbers for the year (.904 save percentage, 2.85 GAA).

This is a pretty crucial stretch for both player and organization. Bernier’s a UFA at season’s end and not expected to be back in Anaheim, so he’s essentially auditioning for a job. The Ducks, meanwhile, have watched Calgary catch up to them in the Pacific Division standings — heading into tonight’s tilt, the Flames are just two points back for third place.

For Chicago, Corey Crawford starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Henrik Lundqvist is hurt, so Antti Rannta gets the call in Carolina. He’ll be backed up by ECHL recall Brandon Halverson. For the ‘Canes, Cam Ward is in net after Eddie Lack started the last two.

Michal Neuvirth goes for Philly in a huge game in Toronto. Frederik Andersen counters for the Leafs.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s been great since securing the No. 1 gig in Tampa following Ben Bishop‘s departure, gets the call when the Bolts host the Wild. Devan Dubnyk, in a bit of a slump having lost three of his last six, goes for Minnesota.

Mike Condon gives Craig Anderson a night off as the Sens travel to Arizona. Mike Smith, who’s lost four straight, starts for the Coyotes.

— Good matchup in Calgary as the in-form Brian Elliott and the Flames host Carey Price and the Habs.

— It’s Cory Schneider versus Calvin Pickard as the Devils take on the Avs in Colorado.

Thomas Greiss, coming off a 27-save win in Edmonton on Tuesday, goes right back in for the Isles. The host Canucks are going with Ryan Miller, as Jacob Markstrom is still out injured.

— Another scintillating matchup, this time in San Jose: Martin Jones and the Sharks host Braden Holtby and the Caps.

Jonathan Quick, who was terrific in a shootout win over the Leafs last week, draws back in for the Kings tonight. He’ll be up against Pekka Rinne, who was equally good in Nashville’s shootout loss to the Ducks on Tuesday (39 saves on 42 shots).

 

Filppula says nixing trade was ‘nothing against Toronto’

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Just prior to his trade to Philadelphia, reports surfaced that ex-Bolts center Valtteri Filppula turned down a potential move to Toronto.

On Thursday, Filppula confirmed it.

“Yeah, there was interest on Toronto,” Filppula said, per Sportsnet. “Obviously, I made a [trade] list earlier and just decided to stick with the list. Everything at the trade deadline comes at you really quick, and when you do those lists you have a little bit more time to think about things, so I wanted to just stick with that.

“It’s nothing against Toronto,” Filppula added, per The Athletic. “They obviously have a great team.”

With that, attention turned to Filppula’s relationship with Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. The two spent considerable time together in Detroit and, publicly, didn’t always appear to have the greatest relationship.

Filppula shot down that notion, however. What’s more, Babcock made a pseudo-recruitment call to Filppula prior to the deadline, trying to convince him to join the team, to which Filppula said “it was nice to catch up.”

The Leafs did eventually get a veteran center out of Tampa Bay — acquiring Brian Boyle, a Babcock favorite. It’s also worth noting Filppula had a 16-team trade list, so it’s not like Toronto was the only team he wouldn’t waive for.

No Lundqvist, Nash or Grabner for banged-up Rangers tonight

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The Blueshirts are limping into this evening’s tilt with Carolina.

Starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist is sidelined with a lower-body injury. Leading goalscorer Michael Grabner will miss his fifth straight contest with a hip ailment. Alternate captain Rick Nash is out with a lingering upper-body issue.

So what sayeth you, J.T. Miller?

“People go down and people have to step into a different spot normally,” the Rangers’ leading scorer said, per the club website. “Just have to play like any other game.”

On their own, the losses are significant — but when piled on top of the guys New York was already without, it’s pretty overwhelming.

The Rangers were down the services of d-men Kevin Klein (back) and Dan Girardi (ankle), while versatile forward Jesper Fast is on the shelf with a separated shoulder.

As a result, head coach Alain Vingeault’s working with a patchwork lineup. The Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello line will remain intact, while Miller will jump to fill Nash’s spot alongside Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad.

Matt Puempel, a healthy scratch recently, will draw back in and play alongside Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes. That leaves Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg and Brandon Pirri on the fourth line.

On defense, it’ll be Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer.

Antti Raanta will get the start, while ECHL recall Brandon Halverson will back up.