James Neal

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.

Isles’ Clutterbuck latest to be fined for diving

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New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck has become the fourth player to be fined this season for diving — on Wednesday, the NHL announced he’d been dinged $2,000 following an incident against Philadelphia earlier this month.

From the league:

Clutterbuck was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 397 against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 6.

His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 676 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 19. Flyers forward Jakub Voracek received a minor penalty for hooking on the play, at 19:04 of the second period.

The Islanders scored on the ensuing power play.

Video of the incident:

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

Emotional night as Barry Trotz returns to Nashville, Predators defeat Capitals

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The Washington Capitals had a lead late in the third period, and were less than five minutes away from getting a win for their head coach, Barry Trotz, in his emotional return to Nashville.

But the Predators, in their home building, played the spoiler.

They scored twice – on goals from Mattias Ekholm and James Neal – in the final 4:29 of regulation to hand the surging Capitals a 4-3 loss.

Trotz, in his first year behind the Capitals’ bench, spent 15 years as the head coach in Nashville. He received a warm standing ovation from the fans at Friday’s game, and looked emotionally moved by the video tribute that played during a stoppage in play during the first period.

“I had some butterflies going out there,” Trotz said, as per CSN Washington. “I had a lot of good memories out there.”

The Capitals have only lost twice in eight games this month. Alex Ovechkin scored twice and is up to 24 goals on the season.

After five-game absence, Neal back for Preds tonight

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The Nashville Predators activated James Neal off injured reserve Tuesday, in advance of their game against the Canucks at Bridgestone.

Neal, who missed the last five games with an upper-body ailment, looks as though he’ll return on a line with Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson, as opposed to a top-line role with Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro (Craig Smith, who sits third on the team with 12 goals, will play there instead.)

Regardless of where he plays, Neal is a welcome addition to the lineup — just ask his head coach, Peter Laviolette.

“It’s good to get him back on the ice,” Laviolette said, per The Tennessean. “He’s a heavy player that can provide a lot of offense, and when he is out of the lineup, you really miss a guy like that.”

Neal will look to rediscover the form he had prior to getting hurt; he had five points in his last six games, which included a two-goal outing against Chicago on Dec. 29.

 

Predators activate Cullen, Beck from IR

The Nashville Predators have activated forwards Matt Cullen and Taylor Beck off injured reserve, and reassigned Miikka Salomaki to Milwaukee in the American Hockey League, the club announced Friday.

Cullen hasn’t played since Dec. 27 due to an upper-body injury and Beck has been out since Dec. 30 due to illness, according to The Tennessean. Their activation comes a day after James Neal and Eric Nystrom were put on injured reserve.

In 28 games with the Predators this season, Beck has four goals and eight points. The 38-year-old Cullen has four goals and nine points in 25 games.

Meanwhile, the Predators are one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League, vaulting themselves into top spot in the league standings after an overtime win on Thursday and a record of 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.