Mike Halford

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
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WATCH LIVE: Penguins at Islanders

Tonight at the Barclays Center, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the New York Islanders in what is a crucial tilt for Metropolitan Division and wild card playoff jockeying.

You can catch the game on NBCSN starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, or catch it live online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.


Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins and Islanders meet in huge Metropolitan Division clash


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    Report: Kings, Lucic have ‘exchanged contract proposals’

    Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic stands along the boards during warm ups prior to their NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins  in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

    Pending UFA Milan Lucic has made no bones about wanting to stick in Los Angeles beyond this season.

    So, not surprisingly, his camp and the Kings are getting to work on a new deal.

    Per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, L.A. and Lucic’s agent, Gerry Johannson, have “exchanged contract proposals,” noting that the two sides are very early in the negotiation process.

    “I wouldn’t expect this to go fast,” LeBrun said on TSN’s Insider Trading panel. “Remember how long it took on [Anze] Kopitar? I think this might be a lengthy negotiation as well.”

    Kopitar, who like Lucic entered this season as a pending UFA, spent over half the campaign without a new contract before signing a monster eight-year, $80 million extension in mid-January.

    The Kings had cap concerns prior to the Kopitar deal, so it fair to assume they have even more now. As such, Lucic’s extension could be a tricky one to finagle, especially when it comes to term. The rugged power forward, who turns 28 in June, has put a lot of miles on his body and is coming off a short-term deal (three years) that paid well ($6 million) annually.

    Lucic has done well this year to boost his value.

    After a mediocre final campaign in Boston — scoring just 18 goals and 44 points in 81 games — there were concerns about his ability to produce. Well, Lucic has alleviated some of those concerns by scoring 15 goals and 40 points through 64 games, proving to be a nice fit within the Kings system (and for head coach Darryl Sutter).

    The x-factor in all this, of course, is the potential to go to market. There would likely be suitors for Lucic’s services in free agency, and his hometown team — the Vancouver Canucks — have long been reported interested in bringing him aboard.

    NCAA sniper Poturalski inks with ‘Canes after ‘interest from numerous NHL teams’

    New Hampshire forward Tyler Kelleher, right, celebrates with teammate Andrew Poturalski after scoring against Boston University goalie Matt O'Connor during the first period of the Hockey East semifinals in Boston, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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    Carolina made an interesting signing on Tuesday, bringing aboard University of New Hampshire forward Andrew Poturalski on a two-year, entry-level contract.

    More, from the ‘Canes:

    The deal will pay Poturalski $700,000 on the NHL level or $70,000 on the American Hockey League (AHL) level in 2016-17, and $832,500 in the NHL or $70,000 in the minor leagues in 2017-18. He will also receive a signing bonus of $185,000. Poturalski will report to Carolina’s AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

    “Andrew had an outstanding season with New Hampshire and attracted interest from numerous NHL teams, so we are thrilled that he chose Carolina to start his professional career,” said [GM Ron] Francis. “He’s a smart hockey player with really good speed and skill.”

    Poturalski, 22, was the second leading scorer in the country this year, with 52 points in 37 games — an impressive figure for his sophomore campaign. He’s a bit undersized — listed at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds — and had previously spent time with the Sabres and Bruins in their summer prospect development camps.


    Goalie nods: Problem solved? Stars give streaking Lehtonen third straight start

    Kari Lehtonen

    After a forgettable month of February in which he posted an .898 save percentage — moderately better than Antti Niemi‘s .870 — Kari Lehtonen is having himself a pretty good March.

    And tonight, he’ll look to build upon it.

    Lehtonen, who’s stopped 56 of 60 shots over his past three games — which included a relief appearance for Niemi against Nashville last week — will make his third straight start when the Stars take on the Canadiens in Montreal.

    Goaltending has been an issue in Dallas this season. Despite a combined cap hit of $10.4 million — no other team has committed that much cap space to goaltending this season — Lehtonen and Niemi have largely underwhelmed, and currently sit tied for 24th in the NHL with a combined .903 save percentage.

    Despite this, Dallas has emerged as one of the better teams in the Western Conference and was, at one point, tops in the Central Division. But some poor defensive play and inconsistent goaltending has seen the Stars fall back into the pack — heading into tonight’s action, they’re tied on 87 points with Chicago, and are just two up on third-place St. Louis.

    For the Habs, Ben Scrivens is in goal.


    — With Henrik Lundqvist still banged up, the Rangers are expected to go with Antti Raanta tonight in Buffalo. Robin Lehner, who’s been quite good since returning from an ankle injury, goes for the Sabres.

    — Good matchup in Brooklyn tonight as Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins take on Jaroslav Halak and the Isles.

    Andrew Hammond gets another start for Ottawa, in place of the injured Craig Anderson. Cam Ward goes for the ‘Canes.

    — As Brough wrote about earlier, Jimmy Howard gets another start for the Wings ahead of the struggling Petr Mrazek. The Jackets are going with Joonas Korpisalo.

    — Looks like Jonas Gustavsson will go for Boston tonight after Tuukka Rask beat the Panthers on Monday. Ben Bishop appears likely for the Bolts, after Andrei Vasilevskiy lost to Philly last night.

    — Appears as though Pekka Rinne will take on Ondrej Palevec as the Preds play in Winnipeg.

    — After Martin Jones‘s terrific win over Calgary last night, sounds like James Reimer will start for the Sharks tonight in Edmonton. Cam Talbot, the NHL’s reigning first star of the week, goes for the Oilers.


    Jets keep going young, Kosmachuk latest to make NHL debut

    LONDON, ON - MAY 21:  Scott Kosmachuk #24 of the Guelph Storm celebrates a goal against the London Knights in Game Six of the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup at Budweiser Gardens on May 21, 2014 in London, Ontario, Canada. The Storm defeated the Knights 7-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, J.C. Lipon, Connor Hellebuyck and now, Scott Kosmachuk.

    Those are the six Jets that will have made their NHL debuts this season — the latest, Kosmachuk, gets his tonight when Winnipeg hosts Nashville at the MTS Centre.

    Kosmachuk, 22, was the Jets’ third-round pick (70th overall) in 2012, and has spent most of the last two seasons in the American League.

    This year, the former OHL Guelph standout has 14 goals and 27 points in 59 games with the Manitoba Moose.

    Kosmachuk’s opportunity comes at the expense of another young Jet, however, as Joel Armia will be out one week with a lower-body injury.

    Armia, one of the prospects acquired from Buffalo in the Evander Kane trade, had eight points in 34 games prior to getting hurt — and he too was only just cutting his teeth at the NHL level, having appeared in one career contest prior to this season.