Pens’ place Letang on IR, Kunitz to miss 2 weeks with a foot fracture


The Pittsburgh Penguins may have squeezed out a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night thanks to a third period goal from Evgeni Malkin, but they’ll have to get used to life without two key pieces of their team.

Defenseman Kris Letang (groin) has been placed on injured reserve.

Letang has four goals and 18 points in 22 games this season while averaging over 25 minutes in ice time a night.

Meanwhile forward Chris Kunitz was a late scratch Tuesday due to a foot fracture.

According to coach Mike Johnston, Kunitz could miss two weeks.

“They decided to take a closer look at his foot, which has been bugging him,” Johnston said. “I don’t have a specific timeline for that right now. They don’t expect it will be long. He’ll be out for a couple weeks I would think.”

Kunitz has nine goals and 20 points in 23 games this season.

Rookie Scott Wilson replaced Kunitz in the lineup Tuesday night, but played a team-low 4:21 after suffering a leg injury in the second period.

“We’re going to take a closer look at it in the next 24 hours,” Johnston said of Wilson. “They’re going to examine him and see what’s wrong.”

Depth on the wing is being tested in Pittsburgh as Kunitz’s injury is in addition to Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and Beau Bennett (lower body).

In praise of Matt Beleskey


The list of the NHL’s top-10 goalscorers is filled with familiar names — Tyler Seguin, Steve Stamkos, Corey Perry, Alex Ovechkin — but there’s a new one in the mix, highlighted here:


That’s 26-year-old Anaheim winger Matt Beleskey, a career checking forward that’s never scored more than 11 goals in an single NHL season. Yet there he is, looking down the goalscoring chart at Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel after the quarter mark, on pace for a 38-goal campaign.

Last night, his 12th goal of the year was the game-winner in a 3-2 win over Boston and his second GWG of the season. Which begs the question: How is this happening?

Simply put, Beleskey was gifted an opportunity this year and ran with it. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau came into ’14-15 looking for winger to play on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and, after the Dany Heatley experiment failed before it ever really started, Beleskey got his shot.

“It’s awesome,” Beleskey said, per the O.C. Register. “[Boudreau’s] been giving me confidence and has had confidence in me all year. It’s been nice.”

The relationship with Boudreau has been key to Beleskey’s breakout campaign. Boudreau recognized Beleskey’s versatility two seasons ago and expanded his responsibilities in an opening-round playoff loss to Detroit, and Beleskey responded by scoring two goals and three points in seven games.

The former fourth-round pick again showed his ability to raise his game in the postseason last year, scoring two goals and four points in five games (despite missing extensive time with a lower-body ailment.)

“Hockey’s a big confidence game,” Beleskey said upon signing a two-year extension last summer, per the Register. “For a little bit, I kind of lost that scoring touch. It all comes with opportunity. Bruce has put me in different situations and got me some more opportunities.

“Taking advantage of it is a big part.”

The Ducks are glad he’s found that confidence and is taking advantage of his chance. Anaheim’s had issues this season with secondary scoring; the Getzlaf-Perry-Beleskey line has combined to score 33 of 57 goals tallied by forwards this season. The likes of Emerson Etem (two goals), Jakob Silfverberg (one) and Rickard Rakell (zero) have given the Ducks virtually nothing in terms of goalscoring this season, which makes Beleskey’s contributions all the more vital.

That’s why Boudreau has a message for Beleskey: Keep shooting.

“You shoot the puck enough with a good shot, and good things are going to happen,” Boudreau said. “[Beleskey’s] feeling like he can score.”

Preds’ Forsberg named rookie of the month


Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg has been named the NHL’s rookie of the month for November, the league announced on Monday:

Forsberg, the 11th overall selection by the Washington Capitals in the 2012 NHL Draft, opened the month on a six-game goal/point streak (7-5—12). He became the first rookie to score in six straight games since Feb. 5-15, 2011, when Michael Grabner did so with the New York Islanders (10-3—13). Forsberg also became just the fourth active player to record a goal streak of at least six games during his rookie season, joining Alex Ovechkin (2x in 2005-06), Evgeni Malkin (2006-07) and Grabner (2010-11).

Three of Forsberg’s nine goals in November were game-winners. He posted 2-1—3, including his first career multi-goal game, first career three-point performance and first career game-winning goal, in a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Nov. 2. Forsberg then collected a pair of decisive markers against the Edmonton Oilers – in a 3-2 triumph Nov. 11 and a 1-0 win Nov. 27, highlighted by his first career overtime goal. He also registered a career-high nine shots on goal, plus the shootout winner (his first career shootout goal), in a 3-2 triumph over the Florida Panthers Nov. 22.

Forsberg, a 20-year-old native of Ostervala, Sweden, paces the NHL with a +20 rating and leads all rookies in goals (10), assists (13-tied), points (23), power-play points (6-tied), game-winning goals (3) and shots on goal (70) in 23 appearances this season.

Other rookies in the running for this month’s award:

— Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson (4-0-2, 1.22 GAA, .958 SV%, one shutout)

— Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (2-7—9 in 13 GP)

— Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (6-2—8 in 14 GP)

— Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (3-5—8 in 10 GP)

With the win, Forsberg joins Los Angeles forward Tanner Pearson (October) as the rookie of the month award winners this season.

Comeau and Crosby lead Pens over Leafs


Blake Comeau had the overtime winner to complete the hat trick as the Penguins edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Wednesday night.

With his assist on the game-winner, Sidney Crosby reached the 800 point plateau. He becomes just the third player in franchise history to reach the mark joining Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux.

Crosby, who had two assists in the win, is also the sixth fastest player to reach 800 points (571 games) behind Wayne Gretzky (352), Lemieux (410), Mike Bossy (525), Peter Stastny (531) and Jari Kurri (558).

Evgeni Malkin had the other Penguins goal. Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves for his 301st career win.

Leo Komarov scored twice for the Leafs, his first career multi-goal game. Tyler Bozak added a shorthanded goal.

Jonathan Bernier made 22 saves seeing his record drop to 7-5-3 on the season.

PHT Morning Skate: (Video) Swedish goalies celebrate win by leapfrogging each other


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.

Swedish Hockey League goaltenders Henrik Lundberg and Julius Hudacek combined for a 2-1 shootout victory and this is how they decided to celebrate it:

(H/T: Puck Daddy)

What would a major trade between the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues look like? (Edmonton Journal)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $50,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,500. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

After back-to-back shutout victories, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will be looking for his team to show that it be consistently good when it takes on Tampa Bay Wednesday night. (New York Daily News)

Highlights from Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime win over Boston:

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was in a joking mood after Marc-Andre Fleury won his 300th career game:

If you’re wondering why a weak Canadian dollar is problematic for the NHL, here’s your answer. (Forbes)

Michael Ferland is just 22 years old, but he came close to hanging up his skates before he got his career on track. (Calgary Flames)