All posts by Matt Teague

Tortorella on Panarin’s absence from lineup: ‘He sh– his pants, he was puking’

Warning: Story contains coarse language

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella made it clear that star winger Artemi Panarin is out with an illness Tuesday despite recent trade rumors.

"He shit his pants, he was puking, he did everything, so enough," Tortorella told reporters Tuesday ahead of the Blue Jackets' tilt with the Montreal Canadiens. "I was told he's sick, he's not eating, he's puking .... he's sick as a dog, yes he's very sick and that's why he's out."

Panarin is one of the most highly demanded players rumored to be available ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.

It didn't take long for Twitter to have some fun following Tortorella's scrum.

Heading into Tuesday's action, the Blue Jackets occupy the third seed in the Metropolitan Division and sit just one point clear of a playoff position.

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Kucherov’s 5-point night highlights all-world season

Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov continues to push his ceiling to new heights.

His historic campaign added another chapter Monday night, as he recorded his second five-point effort of the season by registering a point on each Lightning goal in a 5-1 win over the Blue Jackets. The big night lifts the All-Star to 99 points on the year with 22 games left.

With the incredible performance, the Russian winger is now on pace for 135 points on the year, a mark that has not been hit since the 1995-96 season. But that's hardly where the incredible facts about Kucherov's torrid pace end.

He's tallied 18 points over his last five games, giving him more points in that span than six of his full-time teammates have compiled all season, and he's actually registered more games with three or more points (15) than he has games with zero points (14).

The 25-year-old is surrounded by an embarrassment of riches on offense, and his 70 assists has already set a franchise record for single-season helpers.

The Lightning record for points in a season belongs to Vincent Lecavalier who posted 109 in 2006-07, but with Kucherov now just 10 points back and six weeks remaining, a potential injury seems to be the only thing that could prevent the sniper from taking that title.

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Report: Senators plan to trade Duchene

Barring any last-minute changes, the Ottawa Senators will trade center Matt Duchene before the Feb. 25 deadline, TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Sunday.

Mark Stone's future in Ottawa should also be determined early this week, well in advance of the trade deadline, Dreger added.

It was reported Saturday that the Senators made Duchene available, and recent developments suggest the 28-year-old's departure from Ottawa is imminent.

There will likely be several teams lining up to offer the Senators a package for Duchene. TSN's Pierre LeBrun believes that "Columbus and Nashville are among the many teams which have checked in with the Senators on him," though nothing has been confirmed.

The speedy sniper has registered 27 goals and 56 points this season, and he's second in team scoring behind Stone.

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Karlsson returns vs. Canucks after 9-game absence

The San Jose Sharks got a huge boost on Saturday night as defenseman Erik Karlsson returned to the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks.

Karlsson has missed nine games with a lower-body injury and has not suited up for the Sharks since Jan.16.

The former Norris Trophy winner recorded 31 points over 25 games prior to the injury. Karlsson ranks fourth among defenseman with 0.91 points per game, and 10th in ice time while logging 24:59 a night.

The Sharks managed to maintain their strong play despite Karlsson's absence, going 6-3 and winning six of their last seven games without him.

San Jose occupies the second seed in the Pacific Division heading into Saturday's action.

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Canucks trade Gagner to Oilers for Spooner

The Vancouver Canucks have traded forward Sam Gagner to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for forward Ryan Spooner, the team announced.

Gagner, 29, will rejoin the team that drafted him with the sixth overall selection in 2007. The London, Ontario native played his best hockey in Edmonton, reaching the 40-point mark in each of his first five seasons with the club.

The 5-foot-11 winger has spent the majority of the campaign on loan with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and is in the second of a three-year contract with Vancouver. His deal has an annual cap hit of $3.15 million.

Gagner won't have to wait long for his chance in Edmonton, as the team announced that defenseman Matt Benning has been placed on injured reserve. The move clears a roster spot for Gagner to join the lineup against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Spooner, 27, was acquired by Edmonton on Nov. 16 from the New York Rangers. It's been a trying season for the centerman, who's tallied three goals and five points through 41 games between the two clubs this year.

The Ottawa, Ontario product is in the first of a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $4 million.

The move marks the second trade for the Oilers in less than 24 hours after the team sent Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers for Anthony Stolarz in a goaltender swap.

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Sabres’ Housley: ‘It just looks like we’re soft’

Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley didn't sugar coat his words after a 6-2 loss at home to the New York Rangers on Friday.

“We didn’t pin a guy in a cycle, we didn’t kill a play, we just let them roam and now we’re just riding our checks and it just looks like we’re soft," Housley told reporters after the game.

The Sabres got off to a sluggish start, spotting the Rangers a 2-0 lead after the first period.

“When we don’t execute we look slow, we look sloppy, we let guys off the wall in D-zone coverage, we were easy to play against in the first period.”

After boasting a league-best 11-3-1 record in the month of November, the Sabres have struggled to find consistency, failing to win back-to-back contests since Dec. 13.

"You have to understand the desperation at this time of the season. Every shift counts, every plays counts, the details of the game, that’s what is disappointing because you feel like we’re moving in the right direction and you take a step back.”

Heading into Saturday's action, the Sabres sit four points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They begin a three-game road trip on Sunday in New Jersey.

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Penguins activate Schultz from IR

The Pittsburgh Penguins' blue line is set to receive a boost, as the team activated defenseman Justin Schultz from injured reserve on Friday.

Schultz has missed the past 53 games after fracturing his left leg on Oct. 13. He'll be a game-time decision for Saturday's contest against the Calgary Flames.

The 28-year-old Schultz tallied four assists in four games this season before the injury.

His return to action comes as the Penguins occupy the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. However, they're just three points up on the Carolina Hurricanes after going 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

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Report: Oilers open to trading Puljujarvi

The Edmonton Oilers are open to trading 20-year-old winger Jesse Puljujarvi, TSN's Ryan Rishaug reports.

The Oilers talked to Puljujarvi's agent Markus Lehto on Friday, and a deal could be made for a proper return, Rishaug added.

In the meantime, the team is considering sending Puljujarvi to the AHL for a stint with the Bakersfield Condors in an effort to help boost both his offense and confidence, but no decisions have been made at this point, according to Rishaug. The Condors offer a great opportunity for the young forward, as the team is currently riding a 13-game winning streak and sit atop the AHL's Pacific Division.

Selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, the 6-foot-4 talent has struggled at the NHL level. In 138 career games, Puljujarvi has tallied 17 goals and 37 points, ranking him 13th among members of his draft class.

The Finn is currently in the final year of his entry-level contract.

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Report: Leafs won’t move Liljegren, Sandin, future 1st-rounder in rental deal

The Toronto Maple Leafs will not part ways with defensive prospects Timothy Liljegren or Rasmus Sandin in exchange for a rental player, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

Additionally, the team won't consider moving a future first-round pick in a rental deal, Friedman wrote in Thursday's edition of "31 Thoughts."

The Leafs already sent their 2019 first-round selection to the Los Angeles Kings for a player with term in defenseman Jake Muzzin, but moving a future first-rounder for a player on an expiring contract is apparently not in the cards for Toronto.

Liljegren was selected by the Maple Leafs with the 17th overall pick at the 2017 draft. The smooth-skating defenseman has been plagued by injuries for much of his tenure with the AHL's Toronto Marlies but he has the potential to become a top-four NHL blue-liner. The 19-year-old's right-handed shot is also a valuable commodity in the league.

Sandin, 18, was the 29th overall pick of the 2018 draft. A sprained elbow has held the Swede to just 20 games with the Marlies this season, but he's picked up an impressive five goals and five assists in those contests.

Both Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner are scheduled to become UFAs on July 1. Considering the Leafs' impending cap constraints, they may be forced to fill the void on the blue line internally next season.


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Hurricanes’ Darling taking personal leave of absence

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling is taking a personal leave of absence, general manager Don Wadell announced Sunday.

"He's obviously had a tough year on the ice and he needs, from a mental standpoint, needs to regroup basically," Wadell told Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

After struggling throughout the 2017-18 campaign, Darling has played just eight games for the Hurricanes this season, posting a 3.34 goals-against average and a .884 save percentage. He was placed on waivers Nov. 29 and has spent the majority of the campaign with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers.

"He had a tough game the other night and his agent called me and said he would like to take a personal leave of absence and would we allow that to get his mind back together," Waddell said. "That night he got rocked for about five (goals) and before he had a shutout (in regulation) before we lost in overtime 1-0. So we gave him the leave of absence."

Waddell added there is no set timetable for the 30-year-old's return.

"I'll touch base with him," he said. "I told him to take a week and touch base with me in a week or so and we'll go from there."

Carolina acquired the rights to the 6-foot-5 netminder in 2017 after his impressive three-year run as the Chicago Blackhawks' backup goaltender. Darling signed a four-year, $16.6-million deal to be the Hurricanes' starting goalie a week later.

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