James Neal

Report: Preds begin extension talks with Fisher, Ribeiro

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In the midst of a surprising and dominant season, Nashville has started talking new deal with two of its biggest catalysts.

Veteran centers Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro — both slated to be UFAs on July 1 — have entered into the early phase of extension negotiations, per ESPN.

Fisher, 34, is in the last of a two-year, $8.4 million deal with a $4.2 million cap hit. Though he’s only played 29 games this year due to a ruptured Achilles, Fisher has been great — he’s scored 13 goals and 25 points while averaging 18:17 TOI per night.

It’s not surprising the Preds want to get an extension done; despite turning 35 in June, Fisher is posting a career high in points-per-game average (.86) and is a popular figure in the community thanks in large part to his wife, musician Carrie Underwood.

Ribeiro, also 34, has been arguably the best free agent signing from last summer. Scooped up for just $1.05 million after a fall out — and buyout — in Arizona, Ribeiro sits seventh in the NHL in assists (33) and has been a dynamic playmaker on the club’s top line between Filip Forsberg and James Neal.

Signing Ribeiro was a masterstroke by GM David Poile, so it’s no surprise he’s expressed interest in keeping Ribs around for at least another year.

Video: Subban the latest to be fined for diving

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Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban has become the fifth player this season to be fined for diving/embellishment — on Wednesday, the NHL announced Subban was dinged $2,000 for an incident against the Rangers last week.

The details:

Subban was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 586 vs. Tampa Bay on Jan. 6. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 712 at New York on Jan. 29.

Subban was assessed a minor penalty for embellishment and Rangers forward Chris Kreider received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, at 13:05 of the first period.

And the incident:

The Habs rearguard joins the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist, Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Nashville’s James Neal in the quintet of players to be publicly outed as divers, under new rules put forth by the league this season.

PHT Morning Skate: Lundqvist shakes it off

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

James Neal faced the Pittsburgh Penguins as the Nashville Predators won 4-0 on Sunday, so this seems like a good time to take another look back at that big trade. (Puck Daddy)

Interesting angle here: the five best “unsung” backups to Martin Brodeur. Feel free to play Helmet while reading this. (The Hockey News)

Johnny Gaudreau: a “big man trapped in a small man’s body.” (NHL Numbers)

A look back at one of hockey’s original bad boys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

It looks like Henrik Lundqvist is OK. Does this mean he can play tonight?

Watch NHL players’ Super Bowl picks with the benefit of hindsight. Did anyone predict a “crippling goal-line interception that a team would never live down?”

Hutton, Predators shutout Penguins

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Roman Josi had a goal and an assist and Carter Hutton made 21 saves as the Nashville Predators blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 Sunday afternoon.

With the win, the Predators avoided a third straight loss.

The game marked the return of James Neal to Pittsburgh. The 26-year-old was held off the score sheet while playing 15:09 in the win.

Gabriel Bourque, Eric Nystrom and Mike Fisher had the other goals for Nashville, who moves into a tie with the Anaheim Ducks for top spot in the Western Conference. The Preds have a game in hand on the Ducks.

“It was a real good first and a real good third,” said Predators coach Peter Laviolette. “We lost a little bit with the penalties in the second. We went to the box too many times. We need to be a little more disciplined than that. When that happens, it takes the roll out of the bench.

“In the second, the PK did a real nice job, I thought.”

Rookie Filip Forsberg had two assists in the win.

The Penguins shutout the Predators 3-0 in the only other meeting between the two clubs this season on Oct. 25.

“I think the start obviously hurt us,” said Sidney Crosby. “It wasn’t a terrible start. We made some mistakes that end up in the back of our net and then we’re playing uphill from there, so we still had a lot of time to get back into the game, but we have to find a way to score goals.”

Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves in the loss.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who was recalled Saturday, is expected to play during the Penguins upcoming three-game western Canadian road trip, which begins Wednesday in Edmonton.

Pens updates: Ehrhoff undergoing testing, Malkin targets Wednesday

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As they gear up for this afternoon’s game against the Nashville Predators, the Pittsburgh Penguins have almost as much going on when it comes to injury updates. Let’s go one-by-one, then:

A lot to soak in, huh?

To the Penguins’ credit, they’re still generating a nice amount of standings points with all of these injuries. The Predators (and returning forward James Neal) should present plenty of competition today, though.