NHL Rink Wrap: Laine lighting it up; Crosby now at 499 goals

laine goal
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Top players from Tuesday in the NHL

Patrik Laine, Blue Jackets

Around the NHL, there were some upsets on Tuesday. It seemed like the Capitals might just scrap a standings point or even a win against the Blue Jackets, but Patrik Laine assisted on a Boone Jenner game-winner with just 45 seconds remaining.

That ended up being the third point of the night for Laine, who also produced two goals on the power play.

All of a sudden, Laine is zeroing in on a point-per-game, as he’s now at 24 (12G and 12A) in 25 contests.

Laine’s not quite as hot as, say, Mitch Marner right now, but he’s definitely heating up. Laine extended his multi-point game streak to four games (6G, 3A). It’s almost as if the fellow has his financial future hanging in the balance, or something.

(Greed can be good in hockey, but maybe Columbus wants to trade Laine so, uh, they can keep losing? Just saying.)

Tuesday NHL highlights

Sidney Crosby is so close to 500 career goals after scoring number 499 in a Penguins win over the Bruins from Tuesday:

Speaking of that Penguins – Bruins game …

Strange series of exchanges between Brad Marchand and Tristan Jarry. In the strange but mostly harmless moment, there was this strange bit of trolling from Marchand when Jarry tried to give a puck to a fan:

And then there’s this, which resulted in a match penalty for what Marchand did to Jarry:

Marchand’s in that zone (name it after Tom Wilson, or someone more diplomatic since they’re no longer playing, like Raffi Torres?) where the run-ins are so frequent, it’s exhausting to talk about him. Will there be a fine or suspension? Who knows, but Marchand will remain Marchand.

(Maybe stick to the amusing tweets?)

Speaking of violence, two fights broke out between the Wild and Jets after a hit:

Few expected the Senators to be able to “pour it on” against the Hurricanes, even with a rest advantage. Carolina almost came back, but still, the Sens will take it.

Your highlight of the night goes to Bobby Orr… err J.T. Miller for this coast-to-coast goal:

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Flyers announce Daniel Briere as assistant GM

If any NHL franchise can switch gears with little notice, it’s the Philadelphia Flyers. At least when they’re in fun-but-reckless mode. (One of their main modes.)

So, apply all of the “for now” caveats. During the offseason, maybe someone will have a weird dream and decide to dump Chuck Fletcher as Flyers GM. Still, at the moment, it seems like the Flyers will stick with Fletcher as GM. For better or worse.

With that in mind, we’ll see how important it is that the Flyers announced Daniel Briere as assistant GM (“special assistant to the general manager”).

First, let’s giggle at “special assistant to the general manager” having some real Dwight Schrute vibes. OK, next, the big question. Is Briere being groomed as a possible future full-fledged Flyers GM, or will this be a feel-good hire for a franchise more interested in an “aggressive retool” than something with

… Oh, I don’t know, an actual vision? Will Briere have much input, or will this be a nostalgia move where Flyers fans can point at their TVs like the Leo meme? We’ll see.

Either way, Briere and the Flyers really have their work cut out for them. Yikes.

Sidney Crosby one away from 500 goals after number 499

As mentioned above, Sidney Crosby is one goal away from 500 after scoring number 499 during the NHL action on Tuesday.

Crosby reached 499 goals in career regular-season game 1,074, so he’s a hair short of a goal-every-other-game pace overall. Of course, Crosby’s also collected an impressive 867 assists, giving him 1,366 points in those 1,074 games.

Quite astounding. Arguably inspiring, too, considering how scary concussion issues seemed for Crosby earlier in his career. As much as you can play the “what if?” game with injuries for Crosby and this era of the Penguins, it’s a small miracle he’s managed such longevity.

(His pal Patrice Bergeron inspires similar thoughts.)

Expect more insight from PHT between goals 499 and 500 for Crosby.

Report: Rask may end Bruins comeback bid, possibly retire?

Two anonymous sources told The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa that Tuukka Rask may not continue his Bruins comeback (sub required), and that retirement is a possibility.

Over four bumpy appearances with the Bruins this season, Rask allowed 14 goals and made 76 saves (2-2-0 record, .844 save percentage). At times, Rask faced setbacks stemming from hip surgery that ate up much of this regular season.

Greedily, I’d love to see more from Rask, who’s largely been underrated (or at least blamed for too many Bruins problems over the years). He’s 34, so this feels too soon. With Henrik Lundqvist’s number retired and Carey Price‘s future in doubt, the NHL’s losing some of its biggest names in net in short succession.

Wednesday’s big story

Wild-card implications for Stars, maybe Predators?

With the Wild in position to take the Central Division’s second seed, the third might come down to the Blues or Predators. So, theoretically, the Predators could find themselves closer to what the Stars are hoping to gain: a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

Of course, a wild-card push is the best-case scenario (at least short-term) for the Stars. It’s just as possible that the Stars slip out of the playoff race entirely, and end up focusing almost solely on being NHL trade deadline sellers.

Frankly, the Stars may want to trade John Klingberg in just about every scenario.

One game only means so much. Nonetheless, if this one ends in regulation, Stars – Predators could clarify various Central/wild-card races a bit.

NHL scores from Tuesday

Blue Jackets 5, Capitals 4
Penguins 4, Bruins 2
Senators 4, Hurricanes 3
Devils 7, Canadiens 1
Jets 2, Wild 0
Golden Knights 4, Oilers 0
Canucks 5, Coyotes 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Panthers offer Sarah Nurse deal to lead girls hockey program

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    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are trying to sign a high-scoring forward who has an Olympic gold medal and two world championships, with hopes of getting the deal done in the coming days.

    If it happens, she won’t be playing for the Panthers.

    Sarah Nurse, the Canadian forward who had a highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin during the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition, has the chance to run the Panthers’ new program designed to get more girls playing hockey.

    Florida president Matthew Caldwell offered the job to Nurse publicly – very publicly, at a lectern, with a microphone, before a crowd of onlookers. And he was serious.

    “I’m going to embarrass you, but we’re going to offer you a job today,” Caldwell told Nurse, who was seated in the crowd. “We want you to be the face of our girls program at the War Memorial. So, are you in? On the spot? We don’t deal with agents, OK. I’m a tough negotiator.”

    The idea to hire Nurse was first floated to Caldwell by Melissa Fitzgerald. She’s the general manager for the War Memorial, which is the two-rink facility being refurbished by the team and will become its practice headquarters.

    “We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks,” Caldwell told The Associated Press. “Our youth hockey team kind of brought it up as a joke to me, but I said, `Let’s think big. We’re building this huge facility. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.”‘

    The only part Caldwell was less than serious about with Nurse was how the Panthers don’t deal with agents. He spoke with Nurse’s representative, Thomas Houlton, after the event.

    Houlton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He and Caldwell spoke for about 15 minutes after the event, which was attended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Panthers stars Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk, and dozens of kids who got to play ball hockey afterward.

    Nurse played for Canada’s world-champion teams in 2021 and 2022, along with Canada’s Olympic gold winners at the Beijing Games last year.

    She was one of five women’s players from USA Hockey and Team Canada – the two most dominant women’s national teams in the world – who were part of the skills events. She wore custom skates highlighting Black History month and the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit focused on getting more Black girls and women into the sport.

    She used a move made famous by Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg when he helped Sweden win gold at the 1994 Olympics against Shesterkin, a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie.

    U.S. star Hilary Knight didn’t think Nurse’s goal should have surprised anyone, saying, “she’s a top scorer.”

    Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

    That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

    Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

    Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

    It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

    Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

    And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

    Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

    WELCOME HOME, LU

    Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

    In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

    He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

    Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

    “You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

    Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

    Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    “I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

    He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

    “It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

    REMEMBERING JIMMY

    Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

    Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

    Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

    Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

    ANTHEM POISE

    “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

    Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

    And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

    SLAP SHOTS

    Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.