Tag: Jason Pominville

Filip Forsberg, Jonas Brodin

NHL on NBCSN: Wild need two points from NHL-leading Preds


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Nashville Predators host the Minnesota Wild at the Bridgestone Arena at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Under normal circumstances, losing a single game against any team — even the lowly Edmonton Oilers — after winning 11 of 13 wouldn’t be an issue, but it is for the Minnesota Wild. Their midseason struggles combined with the increasingly competitive nature of the Western Conference Wild Card race has put Minnesota in a situation where it can’t afford to absorb many more setbacks.

So while a loss against the NHL-leading Nashville Predators would be understandable, it would also be ill-timed. The Wild should consequently have no trouble finding motivation tonight, but it will still be an uphill battle given Nashville’s near complete dominance at home. The Predators have a 26-3-1 record at the Bridgestone Arena while the Wild are mediocre 14-14-2 on the road.

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As has consistently been the case since he was acquired from Arizona, the Wild will likely lean on goaltender Devan Dubnyk. However, he’ll be backed by another reinforcement in forward Sean Bergenheim. The Wild acquired him from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday along with a 2016 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2016 third-round selection.

Bergenheim spent six straight games in the press box before the trade and only averaged 14:09 minutes per contest even when he did play, but Minnesota is betting that he can bounce back if given the chance.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played this season in the role I’ve been given,” Bergenheim told the Star Tribune. “But I know there’s a lot more energy in me to play a better role.

“I want to bring energy, I want to bring forechecking, I want to bring pressure in the offensive zone. I want to get the pucks to the net, get myself to the net, and hopefully score some goals. I think in that sense I can help the team.”

Jason Pominville will be another Minnesota forward to keep an eye on. He’s second on the team with 41 points in 60 contests, but he’s been held off the scoresheet for six straight contests and has finished without a point in 11 of his last 14 games. The Wild have excelled lately even without his normal offensive production, but at some point they’re going to need him to step up if they want to maintain their recent pace.

Given how effective Nashville has been, tonight might be the night Minnesota needs Pominville to bounce back.

Video: Kassian snaps Dubnyk’s 136-minute shutout streak


It was nice while it lasted.

Devan Dubnyk, the NHL’s reigning first star of the week, came into Monday against Vancouver action riding a shutout streak of 126 minutes and 39 seconds — one that got all the way to 136:57 before Zack Kassian scored his fourth of the season midway through the opening period:

Dubnyk’s streak began, ironically enough, against this same Vancouver squad. Back on Super Bowl Sunday, he surrendered a goal to Daniel Sedin with under seven minutes left in the final period, then posted back-to-back shutouts against Chicago and Colorado.

Kassian’s goal didn’t do much to slow down the red-hot Wild, however. They raced out to a 3-1 lead in the first period on the strength of goals from Jordan Schroeder, Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter.

Sabres reject notion that they’re tanking

Ted Nolan

The Buffalo Sabres were never expected to do much this season and while they had a great stretch from mid-November to mid-December, they did enter the All-Star break in last place after losing 11 straight.

Since before the season even began they’ve had to live with accusations that they’re tanking in order to land Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Both are considered to be players you could potentially build a franchise around. Still, the idea that they would intentionally try to slip into last place is insulting to Sabres head coach Ted Nolan.

“I’ve been around with the game for a long time,” Nolan told ESPN.com. “I’ve never been associated with anyone who said, ‘Let’s lose this game.’ Hey, winning is hard. There’s no sense in planning not to.”

The accusations have their root less in what Nolan or his players have done though and more with how the team was assembled in the first place. The Sabres dealt key veterans like Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller last season, leaving the squad underwhelming on paper. If trading away top veterans in exchange for picks and/or prospects is what it takes to be accused of tanking though, then Sabres president Ted Black thinks it’s become shorthand for rebuilding.

“You diminish yourself significantly in the present,” Black said of trading veterans. “But the hope is that it’s the future. We’ve gone through a dismantling. Are we trying to tank? No. But the performance is going to slip when you trade All-Stars for picks. It’s a consequence of a rebuild that’s going to require patience and time.”

Above all, captain Brian Gionta doesn’t want his teammates to get the idea that losing is acceptable under any circumstances.

“You don’t want guys coming in after a loss and feeling like we made strides,” Gionta said. “This game is all about winning. Part of the turnaround is changing that culture, the feel in the room, what’s acceptable and what’s not.”