Bruins’ Tuukka Rask pulled from loss to Penguins with migraine

As the season shifts from bad to worse for the slumping Bruins, goalie Tuukka Rask played only half of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Penguins because of a migraine.

Rask was pulled midway through the second period because he was not feeling well, the Bruins announced. He did not return.

Rask revealed to reporters after the 5-1 loss he was suffering from migraine symptoms, something he’s dealt with in-game previously.

Two Washington goals in the first 11:32 of the first period set the stage for the avalanche that was to follow.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, winner of 14 straight starts, was pulled after allowing five goals on 19 shots.

Columbus, which entered averaging an NHL-best 2.03 goals against, hadn’t given up more than three goals in a game since Nov. 12. Only twice has a team scored more than four against the Blue Jackets this season.

The power-play unit, which also led the league at 28.3 percent during the streak, failed to score on five chances against the Caps.

While it won’t make the NHL history book, the streak was fun while it lasted.

Columbus rode it to the league’s best record, 27-6-4 and 58 points, as the season nears its halfway point.

It’s the first time the Blue Jackets failed to earn a point in 18 games.

Brian Elliott, G ( Signed with Flyers ) — Elliott was having a brutal first season in Calgary but became one of the NHL’s hottest goalies down the stretch, salvaging his contract year. A poor playoff showing cost him some dollars (2 years, $5.5 million), so Philly gets a bargain to platoon with Michal Neuvirth while hoping Elliott, 32, might recapture the consistency that made him a stalwart with the Blues.

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Meeting Alex Ovechkin dream come true for UAE women’s prodigy

Meet Fatima Al Ali.

She’s from the United Arab Emirates and is a hockey prodigy at age 26. Her favorite team is the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin is her idol.

On Tuesday night, the phenom met the Russian superstar as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month in the NHL.

Her reaction to meeting Ovechkin is the kind of thing that makes you a sports fan:

The Washington Post reports former Caps great Peter Bondra met Al Ali during on a November trip to Abu Dhabi, where she plays for the national women’s team.

Crosby joined very rare company when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the Penguins captain as the 2017 playoff’s most valuable player. Following the Penguins winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup, Crosby was again awarded the Conn Smythe, making him one of three players ever (Mario Lemieux, Bernie Parent) to win the award in consecutive years.

Canada’s recent dominance atop the hockey world has coincided with Crosby’s reign as the game’s best player. Most recently, he captained Canada to gold at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the rebooted best-on-best tournament that featured perhaps the most talented pool of players in an international tournament in hockey history.

Crosby scored three goals and added seven assists in six tournament games, including two assists in Canada’s gold medal victory against Team Europe.

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Rangers extension makes Alain Vigneault NHL’s third-highest paid coach, report says

The New York Rangers have signed coach Alain Vigneault to an extension through the 2019-20 season that reportedly will make him the third-highest-paid coach in the NHL.

With the Rangers (31-17-1) in fourth place in the Metro Division with 63 points, the extension is as much about expectations as it is a reward for Vigneault, according to the New York Daily News.

The expectation: Bring the Rangers their first Stanley Cup since 1994, which would be Vigneault’s first as a coach.

CTV is now reporting a Calgary judge has ruled in favor of Heatley, awarding him $4.167 million from Presidential Suites Inc., and $2.348 million from Waterfront Development Inc., sums that he invested in the companies respectively that he was supposed to be paid back 100 percent.

Perhaps adding legs to Heatley’s lawsuit is that his former Senators teammate, Chris Phillips, is also suing McAlpine and his parents for millions listing those same real estate companies, citing unapproved real estate investments.

Heatley played 317 games for the Senators, scoring 180 goals, including back-to-back 50-goals seasons in 2006 and 2007. Ottawa reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 with Heatley.

But now is as fair a time as any to ask if Draisaitl is a product of McDavid, or really a player capable of driving play on his own accord, although, in the broader scheme of things, the question really doesn’t matter.

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Should the Rangers buy, sell, or stay at the MLB trade deadline?

If the Rangers wanted to blow it up, they could blow it up spectacularly. Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for all of the prospects. Cole Hamels and money to the Brewers for most of the prospects. Adrian Beltre to the Red Sox for a plurality of the prospects. They could sail into August with a fortified farm system, and all they would have to give up are their hopes and dreams.

However, this brings us to the Greater Theory of Rebuilding and a comic-sans chart that I made a couple years ago for the White Sox.

The answer to this depends entirely on one thing: How much money are the Tigers sending along with Verlander? The 34-year-old is owed $28 million in each of the next two seasons, plus whatever he’s still owed from the 2017 season. If the Tigers want to chip in after determining that owing, say, two-thirds as much money while getting a prospect back is better than watching Verlander’s trade value potentially fall lower, then hey, there’s your answer. If the Tigers’ response is that they want all of the money taken care of by Milwaukee but in return they’ll reduce their expectations for a prospect return, then that’s probably something that could work, too!

If the Tigers want to play that in-the-middle game they’re so fond of in other areas of team development, and demand that they pay nothing or very little while the Brewers give up a major prospect in exchange for a Verlander who doesn’t look like anything like the Verlander who signed this deal to begin with, then, well, we’re all wasting our time a little bit here, aren’t we?

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Kings’ Drew Doughty calls Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk ‘pretty dirty player’ after elbow to chin

Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk’s chin-high elbow on the Kings’ Drew Doughty in Sunday’s game likely will get the league’s attention.

The late first-period elbow knocked Doughty down and out for the rest of the period. He returned in the second period of a 5-2 Flames win but afterward offered a not-so-flattering assessment of the rookie’s play.

He’s a pretty dirty player, that kid, Doughty told reporters, via L.A. Kings Insider. To be a rookie and play like that is a little surprising. I don’t know exactly what happened because I got hit in the head, but I thought he elbowed me. … Whatever it was, it hurt pretty bad, and it’s going to hurt for a bit.

The Canadiens collected Guy Lafleur at No. 1 overall, then added Larry Robinson at No. 20. They hoarded draft picks back then, when other teams had little use for them. The Canadiens had three firsts and three seconds that year, and even if the other players combined for less than 800 games, using those six picks to select two of the best players of the 1970s and Hockey Hall of Fame members worked out pretty well.

The Predators stocked half their defense corps for several seasons with one draft. Ryan Suter (No. 7), Kevin Klein (No. 37) and Shea Weber (No. 49) were one of the best hauls from the deepest draft in NHL history.

This is another tough one, because the Devils selected a goaltender named Martin Brodeur in 1990, and that class also included six other players who played at least 200 NHL games. The next year, the Devils landed one of the greatest defensemen of all time, Scott Niedermayer (No. 3) and Brian Rolston, who also played more than 1,200 games and had 761 points, eight picks later at No. 11. Apologies to the likes of Valeri Zelepukin, Jaroslav Modry and Mike Dunham, but Rolston was a very nice sidekick to Niedermayer in the Class of ’91.

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Rangers’ Chris Kreider fined $5K for beating Cody Eakin with helmet

Chris Kreider may have got revenge for his teammate, but it’s going to cost him big.

The New York Rangers forward has been fined $5,000 for ripping the helmet off Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin and beating him in the head with it during Tuesday’s loss at Madison Square Garden.

The NHL Department of Player safety announced Wednesday that Kreider received the maximum fine allowable under the CBA.

Eakin was suspended five games in December for laying out Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a high and dirty blow. Kreider was eager for retribution and checked Eakin at 1:52 of the second period Tuesday. During the fight, Kreider pulled Eakin’s helmet off and struck him repeatedly with it.

Both players received a five-minute fighting major and Kreider dodged being ejected for using equipment as a weapon.

Edmonton will play San Jose in the first round of the playoffs, ending an 11-year postseason drought that dated to its loss in the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. Take McDavid away, and the Oilers would be back in the basement of the NHL. Sure, his supporting cast, led by forwards Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle and goalie Cam Talbot, is solid, but those players just don’t measure up with the sidekicks other candidates have.

Crosby is McDavid’s closest competitor for the Hart, but we’ve seen the Penguins hum without Crosby before. The Oilers without McDavid would be a mess.

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Jets’ Patrik Laine out indefinitely with concussion from massive hit

Jets rookie winger Patrik Laine suffered a concussion Saturday afternoon against the Sabres and is out indefinitely.

Laine, the second-overall pick in last year’s draft whose 21 goals rank third in the NHL, was laid out in an open-ice hit by Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe in the 4-3 loss. The collision, 5:38 into the third period, sparked a line brawl between the teams as Laine fell backward, his head appearing to make contact with the ice.

As tends to be the case in Hollywood, the red carpet will be strong with this one beginning at Friday’s NHL100 event.

John Legend, Robin Thicke and John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting have been announced as performers during the ceremony, and Hollywood Reporter noted Michael J. Fox, Keanu Reeves, Al Michaels and Alex Trebek all will be presenters as the NHL reveals its list of the 100 best players in history.

For Sunday’s main event, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen are set to sing the anthems for the All-Star Game with Nick Jonas performing during the second intermission.

None of these names outrank Snoop Dogg.

In one of the longer divorce proceedings in recent NHL memory, the Avalanche continue to entertain the possibility of trading 26-year-old center Matt Duchene. However, GM Joe Sakic continues to frustrate potential trade partners, Avs fans and Duchene himself in failing to pull the trigger on a deal, prolonging a situation that first picked up steam at last year’s trade deadline.

Most experts believed Duchene would have had his Rocky Mountain tenure ended by now, likely by the draft in June, but Sakic — somewhat to his credit — seeks a major haul in return for Colorado’s top trade chip. Of course, there are others — count Islanders general manager Garth Snow in this camp you’d have to imagine—- who see Sakic as gun shy and afraid to get burned by dealing away a player who scored 30 goals two years ago and has 418 points in 572 games despite an off year in 2016-17.

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Stars’ team plane turns back due to smoke in cockpit

A plane carrying the NHL’s Stars was forced to return to a St. Louis-area airport when smoke filtered into its cockpit shortly after takeoff Sunday morning.

According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the flight departed St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Ill., at 11:52 a.m. headed for Los Angeles, where the Stars play the Kings on Monday. But the Boeing 737 turned around within five minutes, the report said, and landed safely back at the airport.

The true mark of a difference-maker in the NHL can be his ability to score a goal from the most pedestrian looking play. Crosby split the defense and, while falling down, turned nothing into something.

In the early stages of his career, Crosby was very unkind to the Flyers. His first game in Philadelphia ended with him scoring the overtime winner. Early in his second season, Crosby and the Penguins traveled to the Wachovia Center (now the Wells Fargo Center) for the teams’ first matchup of the 2006-07 season. Crosby and the Penguins easily won the game, 8-2, and Crosby had his name all over the scoresheet, completing his first-career hat trick midway through the second period.

Crosby was already at the top of the NHL when the calendar turned over to 2011, and it looked like the league’s top player was somehow taking his game to yet another level. In the first 38 games of that season, Crosby couldn’t stop scoring, racking up 32 goals and 33 assists in Pittsburgh’s first 38 games.

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Stars poke fun at crowd for Trump inauguration

Clearly, the Dallas Stars have a good sense of humor.

After the number of people who attended Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as the country’s 45th president was disputed, the Stars poked fun at the president’s latest spat with the media.

While most reports say fewer than 900,000 people braved the rain and cold weather to fill the Washington Mall, the Trump administration is claiming the crowd had at least 1.5 million people.

Get my feel back, get some minutes, get some good practices in and then hopefully everything feels good to come back up, Bickell said Thursday after practicing with the Hurricanes (via CarolinaHurricanes.com).

Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in early November and has missed 48 games this season.

This is a real good step for him, an opportunity, and a step closer to getting back to the NHL. I think it’s an exciting time for him to get back and play, Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. It’s a good situation for him to go play at the AHL level.

Though Bickell has been practicing with the Hurricanes for more than a month, he last played in a game on Oct. 30.

It’s going to be good to get back out there and play hockey again, Bickell said. It’s definitely special. They didn’t think I’d come back this quick. Maybe next year. This was my goal: to get back as fast as possible and feel normal as quick as possible.

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NHL reveals captains for 2017 All-Star Game

They’re no John Scott, but this year’s group of All-Star Game captains includes plenty of star power.

Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Montreal’s Carey Price, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Nashville’s P.K. Subban were voted by fans to helm their respective divisions during the NHL’s 3-on-3 tournament later this month in Los Angeles.

This is an historic moment for the National Hockey League, commissioner Gary Bettman said. The 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging represent the formal launch of what we hope will be a long and successful collaboration between our league, our teams and our partners in accelerating the development of hockey in China.

We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans to enjoy our sport. We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that priority in every way possible.

The teams are scheduled to face off Sept. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and Sept. 23 at the Huaxi LIVE Wukesong’s Le Sports Center in Beijing. Both Los Angeles and Vancouver have previously held youth hockey camps in China, though the exhibition meetings will be the first games to be played.

Meanwhile, the NHL has yet to be confirmed for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

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