Pittsburgh Penguins

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The Buzzer: Seven overtimes, four shootouts and a shutout

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Players of the Night:

Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars: Bishop made 24 saves en route to his second shutout of the season. Bishop had lost his previous four starts, so it was a nice bounce-back from the veteran netminder. He can also say he backstopped Ken Hitchcock’s 800th win as a head coach now.

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: Thornton scored twice in Thursday’s 5-4 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks. His second goal was his 1,415th point of his NHL career, moving him into sole possession of 18th spot all-time, one point ahead of Doug Gilmour.

Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings: Talk about embracing the moment. Brown, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, scored the overtime winner for the Kings as they squeaked out a 2-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins: It was the dude’s birthday, and much like Brown did, he took hold of the moment, scoring the shootout winner in a 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets.

Coach of the Night: 

Ken Hitchcock, Dallas Stars: These don’t make regular appearances in The Buzzer, but then again, coaches don’t often record their 800th career NHL win. In fact, only three have even done it and Hitchcock is now one of them. Can you guess the other two? The answer is below.

Highlights of the Night:

Thornton’s second of the night was a pretty nice clap bomb:

Jake Virtanen went coast-to-coast on this fine effort:

Cam Talbot nearly gave up a goal and then he gave us this save:

This dog dropped a puck. It was cute because dog:

Factoid of the Night:

Ken Hitchcock joined some pretty elite company on Thursday:



Bruins 2, Jets 1 (SO)

Devils 4, Rangers 3 (SO)

Ducks 5, Islanders 4 (OT)

Penguins 3, Blue Jackets 2 (SO)

Lightning 4, Senators 3 (SO)

Hurricanes 4, Predators 1

Stars 4, Blackhawks 0

Oilers 3, Blues 2

Sharks 5, Canucks 4 (

Kings 2, Avalanche 1 (OT)

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Fighting Ryan Reaves is not advised (Video)

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You have to wonder why anyone would feel compelled to drop the mitts with Ryan Reaves.

Do you admire the bravery? Laugh at the unfortunate circumstances? Or cringe at the pending doom?

They’re all plausible responses.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Lukas Sedlak fell into one (or all) of these categories tonight.

Reaves was doing Reaves thing when he obliterated Markus Hannikainen against the boards in the Blue Jackets game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

The destruction can be seen here:

Is that not charging?

At the end of that video, you can see Sedlak come in to stick up for his teammate. It’s the valiant thing to do, of course. But man, he must’ve been regretting it the whole way.

Sometimes it’s probably wise to pick up your buddy, your ball and just walk home.

Penguins add depth with Leighton, Oleksiak acquisitions

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The Pittsburgh Penguins just got a little bigger on their backend.

The Penguins announced they struck a deal with the Dallas Stars on Tuesday afternoon, acquiring 6-foo-7 defenseman Jamie Oleksiak for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019.

The trade comes on the heels of the Penguins making an odd move earlier in the day after acquiring goaltender Michael Leighton and a fourth-round draft pick in 2019 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Josh Archibald, goaltender Sean McGuire and a sixth-round draft pick in 2019.

Oleksiak, who has just three points in 21 games this season, hasn’t played since Dec. 9. It will be interesting to see where he fits in, if he does at all immediately.

One report suggests the Penguins had been interested in Oleksiak’s services for a while, and that the deal came together pretty quickly.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford suggested that a ‘major trade’ could happen if the Penguins continue to struggle.

Pittsburgh dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday and sit outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re coming into a critical period where we’ll make a decision whether we need to shake things up or not,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last Wednesday. “We’re good enough to be better than we’re doing. Hopefully, that’s the way it goes here in the next little while. If it doesn’t, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that a major trade would come out of this.”

The Penguins have two fourth-round picks in 2019 at the moment and the Stars will get whichever one is higher, according to Shapiro.

Meanwhile, Leighton was sent down to Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Matt Murray is back to full health with the Penguins and Tristan Jarry has been phenomenal as a backup (and starter) when called upon.

It’s been an interesting season for Leighton, who will join his third NHL team after previously being with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Leighton is on a two-way deal with $650,000 at the NHL level and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Leighton has played in just seven NHL games over the past seven seasons and unless the Penguins want to give Jarry more playing time in the AHL, it seems unfathomable that he’d become the backup going forward.

Archibald, meanwhile, will stay up with the Coyotes after the club announced that Dylan Strome was being sent back to the AHL following the trade. McGuire has been assigned to the Coyotes ECHL affiliate.

Also, in case you’re wondering about the NHL’s roster freeze and what it all means, CapFriendly sent out a helpful tweet to explain.

The Buzzer: Henrique back in Jersey, McAvoy channels Howe

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Players of the Night:

Adam Henrique, Anaheim Ducks: Henrique had a goal — a beauty of a goal — and an assist in his return to New Jersey, just three weeks after being dealt there. His Ducks didn’t get the last laugh though. The Devils had a solid third-period comeback to win 5-3.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins: Who doesn’t like a Gordie Howe hat trick? McAvoy certainly liked his tonight. He scored the game-winner, assisted on two goals and fought Pierre-Luc Dubois to cap off the feat.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Quick stopped 36-of-37 to end the Philadelphia Flyers six-game winning streak and ended the Kings’ three-game losing streak. The Kings have been very good this season and Quick has been front and center in that.

Highlights of the Night:

For this one, we start by going back to New Jersey and we go back to Henrique’s sensational goal against his former club.

Jesper Bratt scored this cheeky yet wicked wrist shot for the Devils tonight:

Brian Elliott didn’t have much luck against the Kings tonight, but he produced quite the glove save:

Factoid of the Night:



Kings 4, Flyers 1

Devils 5, Ducks 3

Bruins 7, Blue Jackets 2

Avalanche 4, Penguins 2

Oilers 5, Sharks 3

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray and their lasting friendship formed in Pittsburgh


The text was short and sweet, but it was the start of a friendship that continues today despite a difference in uniforms.

Matt Murray had just won the 2014-15 “Red” Garrett Memorial Award as AHL rookie of the year when his phone buzzed. It was a text from Marc-Andre Fleury, who was coming off of his 10th NHL season. It was a simple message congratulating him on a great season that ended with “see you in training camp.”

The two didn’t realize that a little more than a year from that moment they would be helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to the first of two Stanley Cups — two championships that both would play an integral part in as the franchise slowly experienced a changing of the guard in goal.


On Thursday afternoon Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan made it official. Murray would return from a lower-body injury that’s kept him out of the lineup since Nov. 27 to start against the Vegas Golden Knights. It was a piece of news that completed the intrigue into the first meeting between the two teams this season. Earlier this week, Fleury played his first game in over two months after dealing with a concussion. It was a warm-up game for the real main event — a game against his old club and the chance to stare down at the other end of the rink and see his former mentee between the pipes.

“It’s exciting for me. He was definitely my mentor, the biggest mentor I’ve had in my pro career,” Murray said on Wednesday. “I wish I had more time to study under him and more time to be around him, but unfortunately we’re on different sides now.”


The writing was on the wall at the start of the 2016-17 NHL season. With Murray’s emergence during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and an expansion draft looming in June 2017, it was clear that Fleury’s time in Pittsburgh was coming to an end. And while other general managers may have tried to swing a deal in order to get something in return for the player, Jim Rutherford, a former goaltender himself, knew how vital it was for the team to have a two-headed monster. He saw how important it was during the run the previous spring, and with the Penguins going for back-to-back championships it wasn’t going to happen without two trustworthy goaltenders that Sullivan could call upon.

Fleury sticking around through the end of last season proved vital as he grabbed the starter’s reins again after Murray got hurt before their first playoff game. As he did the the previous postseason, Murray regained the No. 1 job and led the Penguins to a second straight Cup.

All of that doesn’t happen if Murray isn’t sharing the net with a veteran like Fleury, and learning as much on the ice as he was off of it.

“He’s been unbelievable. I don’t know where I would be without Fleury’s mentorship, his advice,” Murray told me after the 2016 Cup Final. “There was a couple of times where I was struggling throughout the playoffs and even during the season, and I think that’s normal for a rookie. This is my first time in the league and first time going through this.

“Of course I had some ups and some downs. He was there all the way through to help me through the downs. I’ll remember our friendship forever.”

While some may have a wanted to paint an icy rivalry between the two, it was never like that for them. They wanted to help each other, which in turn would benefit the team. When it was crystal clear Fleury’s days in Pittsburgh were numbered, it was about supporting the young goaltender to handle the rigors of being a full-time No. 1.

When a lower-body injury took out Murray before their first game against Columbus in Round 1 last spring, the final love-in for Fleury began. He helped the Penguins dispatch the Blue Jackets in five games and once again knock out the Washington Capitals in seven games. After Pittsburgh dropped two of the first three games of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators, Sullivan turned back to a healthy Murray, who would start their final 10 games, which ended with another championship.

Fleury may not have finished the job last June in Nashville, but he was a big reason why they were there in the first place, and a huge reason why Murray, the one in net when the clock hit 0:00 at Bridgestone Arena in Game 6, was prepared for the moment.

The celebration in Nashville was one of the final times Murray and Fleury were together. Everyone knew it was Fleury’s last ride and the emotions poured out from his teammates. And when Fleury did his final Cup raise as a Penguin, he gave it a kiss and turned to seek out Murray. He would find him and after exchanging words, he handed off the trophy to his crease mate.

That decision will stay with Murray forever.

“It means everything to me, honestly,” Murray said after Fleury’s Cup pass. “The fact that he handed me the Cup there that was one of the most special moments in my life, for sure.”


Ask Fleury what was special about his time sharing a crease with Murray and he’ll tell you “winning.” After a dinner with former teammates Wednesday night, they’ll be opponents on Thursday inside T-Mobile Arena. There will be some fun trash talk during the game from both the Penguins and the goaltender himself, who’s known to dish it out pretty good. Then the two teams will go their separate ways until Feb. 6 when Vegas travels to Pittsburgh for the first time. That’s when there will be an outpouring of love from the city where he grew up as a professional and began raising a family.

And barring any unforseen circumstances, one of Fleury’s biggest fans will be on the other side of the ice once again and memories of their time winning back-to-back championships will resurface.

“That’s what it’s all about. Being able to share it with a good young goaltender who’s going to have a good future,” Fleury said. “I was fortunate to share that with him.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.