VIDEO: Avalanche’s Landeskog hits birthday girl with puck

In an act of intended goodwill, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog tossed a puck over the glass during Saturday's pregame warmup to a young girl celebrating her birthday.

While a clean catch wasn't made on the other end, a thumbs up and a head nod signaled a relatively happy ending to the story.

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VIDEO: Kings, Ducks renew acquaintances with line brawl

Tensions were high when the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks took to the ice Saturday.

Less than seven minutes into the game and before the first goal was scored, the Pacific Division foes engaged in a full-out line brawl, much to the delight of the Staples Center crowd.

Here's a look at the penalty breakdown after the dust settled.


And on top of that, both Kevin Bieksa and Andy Andreoff were handed game misconducts for their roles in the action. Bieksa's absence forced the Ducks to play the rest of the game with only five defensemen.

We think it's safe to say this rivalry is alive and well.

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Alter: Phaneuf feeling ‘mixed emotions’ before facing Maple Leafs in Toronto

TORONTO – When he stepped onto the ice Saturday morning, Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf acknowledged that it felt a little weird.

It probably didn’t help that a bunch of Toronto Maple Leafs fans were invited to watch the morning skate. Some of them stuck around to see Phaneuf; when he touched the puck, some even booed.

“It was different, obviously, going out there this morning on this side,” Phaneuf said. “That’s the way it is right now and they (the fans) gave it to me a bit.”

Phaneuf was back at Air Canada Centre for the first time since he was shipped to the Senators in a nine-player deal on Feb. 9. He’d spent seven years in Toronto, including more than six as Leafs captain. He was also a polarizing figure in the city, a lightning rod for criticism.

However, it’s evident Phaneuf forged lasting relationships with his ex-teammates, as many players met up with their former captain for dinner on Friday. Many of them didn’t get a chance to say goodbye when Phaneuf was traded.

“For me, it’s mixed emotions because I was such good friends with them. I enjoyed my time playing with them immensely,” Phaneuf said. “It was different going for dinner with the opposition side - I don’t usually do that but for them I made an exception.”

One of the players at dinner was Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. For the first time in both of their careers, Phaneuf and Kadri will be looking across the ice and seeing the other as the enemy. With the trade not even a month old, it’s not a familiar look.

“I’ve watched a couple of his games before (tonight) just keeping tabs on him a little bit,” Kadri said. “It’s pretty awkward to say the least, even doing the scrums after the game with his Ottawa Senators hat on and the red and the black, it just doesn’t sit too well with me yet.”

Video tribute planned for Phaneuf on Saturday

The Maple Leafs will honor Phaneuf with a television timeout video tribute during the first period. Back in October, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel returned to Toronto for the first time since being dealt in the offseason, but there was no acknowledgement of his return by the Maple Leafs during the game.

Kessel led the team in scoring in each season he was a member of the Maple Leafs.

The reason for the change this time around is largely due to the captaincy Phaneuf held. Although many will point to the team’s lack of success during Phaneuf’s tenure as its leader, that can never be taken away from him.

At the Maple Leafs’ training facility, there are life-sized pictures of every past team captain. When Phaneuf retires, his likeness will join the ranks of Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, and Wendel Clark.

The crowd reaction is expected to be what it usually is for a past player returning to Toronto. Every time Phaneuf touches the puck, the crowd is sure to boo. But during the video montage, there will be some applause.

“I think it should be outstanding,” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said about the fan reaction he’s hoping to see. “In my opinion, and I’ve only had a limited time, (he is) a good man, played hard and trained right.”

No matter what the reaction is, Phaneuf’s mindset will be on helping his new team grab a spot in the playoffs. Sitting seven points out heading into Saturday’s game, there is a lot at stake.

“The bottom line is, once I was traded, I had two flights to go to Detroit and I had some time to reflect and I was all in,” Phaneuf said. “I’m excited to be part of the organization and I like the group that we have here and I just wanted to come and fit in. We’re fighting for our lives right now; it’s fun to be in a race.”

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Devils’ Schneider won’t face Penguins on Sunday due to injury

That sound you hear is the New Jersey Devils organization holding its collective breath.

Cory Schneider will not play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, and he'll be evaluated in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon when the Devils return home from Dallas, where Schneider left a 4-2 loss to the Stars on Friday with what the team called a lower-body injury.

Related: Devils' Schneider hurt in loss to Stars after making stellar pad save

The Devils won't provide another update on the goaltender's condition until Sunday.

New Jersey sits five points back of Pittsburgh for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 16 games left, but the Penguins have three games in hand.

If the Devils are forced to play more games without their No. 1 netminder, their playoff hopes could be in serious jeopardy.

(Courtesy: New Jersey Devils)

Schneider has a 2.17 GAA and .923 save percentage with four shutouts while appearing in 55 of New Jersey's 66 games this season.

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Babcock in no rush to name new Leafs captain: ‘No plan, no timeline’

The Toronto Maple Leafs will get their first look at the man who wore the "C" for six season with the club Saturday night.

Dion Phaneuf and the Ottawa Senators will renew the Battle of Ontario on Saturday as Phaneuf takes to the ice at the Air Canada Centre for the first time since being traded to the Senators nearly a month ago.

Love him or hate him, Phaneuf executed his captainly duties with class during his tenor, and it's for that reason head coach Mike Babcock is currently without a plan on naming Phaneuf's successor.

"No plan. No timeline," said Babcock. "Right now I don't even want to think about it. We purposely haven't got any of our kids, even though we demand some of our kids lead. We expect (Nazem) Kadri to lead, we expect (Morgan) Rielly to lead, we've given our assistant captains to our veterans who are doing it right every day, and when someone is ready they'll get the opportunity.

"This is the first time I've talked about it. I haven't to Lou (Lamoriello) about it one time, I haven't talked to Shanny about it, but I'm pretty sure you'd get the same thing from them."

Phaneuf held the captaincy from 2010 until his departure last month. Prior to that, the team went two seasons without a captain after franchise-great Mats Sundin departed from the organization.

Though there remains no immediate plans for a replacement, Babcock did give some insight into his personal timeline.

"I think in the end when it becomes obvious to us who the next captain is, that's when it'll be," said Babcock.

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3 backup goalies destined for a starting job next season

Last offseason saw a graduation of sorts for a number of backup goaltenders.

Among them, Martin Jones, who broke away from the shadow cast by Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, and Cam Talbot, who utilized a Henrik Lundqvist injury to put on a show on Broadway.

Jones was ultimately traded and flipped, landing in San Jose, while Talbot was acquired by the Edmonton Oilers for three draft picks.

The two have since occupied the starting positions with their respective clubs and are the latest proof that sometimes you have to pay your dues before making it big.

With that in mind, here are three backup goalies who might follow in their footsteps as early as next season:

Antti Raanta

It would appear Antti Raanta is trying to follow Talbot's journey as closely as he can.

After seeing limited action with the Chicago Blackhawks last season as a third-string backup, Raanta was dealt to the Rangers to fill backup position behind Lundqvist.

Raanta put up spectacular numbers last season, going 7-4-1 in just 14 games with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. He has remained a solid second-in-command this season, going 7-4-2 in 17 games with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

The 26-year-old has a fairly small sample size, but if there is one thing we learned from Jones, it's that experience is not necessarily a deterrent. The current Sharks netminder made only 34 appearances with the Kings before landing a spot as the team's No.1.

Raanta will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Frederik Andersen or John Gibson

It isn't always clear who the starter is and who the backup is for the Anaheim Ducks.

Both Frederik Andersen and John Gibson have been used largely, with injuries and the hot hand usually driving the schedule. The two have had near equal stats this year and each have had their hand in helping the club rebound from a shaky start to the season.

Goalie GP Wins GAA SV%
Andersen 35 17 2.22 .922
Gibson 28 16 2.09 .918 

With Gibson signed to a three-year, $6.9-million contract after this season and Andersen set to become a restricted free agent this summer, there is growing belief that the team will look to deal Andersen.

Related: 3 goalies the Flames should target in the offseason

If that is the case, both Gibson and Andersen could become starters next season. They're surely deserving of it.

Michal Neuvirth

Tied for the fifth best save percentage with a .925 mark while rocking an impressive 2.29 goals-against average and three shutouts, it's only fair that Michal Neuvirth be given some credit for keeping the Philadelphia Flyers afloat in the Eastern Conference.

The team sits just five points out from the final wild card spot in the East, all while backing a team that has given up the third-most shots per game (31.6), while deploying the 23rd most efficient offense.

Steve Mason has received the bulk of the action, dressing in 37 games this season, but Neuvirth has been no stranger to the crease. He's suited up for 30 contests and boasts an impressive 16-8-4 record.

The 27-year-old has the most career starts of any of the goaltenders above, and though he's had mixed results during his tenor, he holds a .914 career save percentage and a 2.67 goals-against average.

Given a shot, Neuvirth could be a viable option for a club looking to upgrade in goal. And with a $1,625,000 price tag, what's not to like?

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Jets’ Morrissey to make NHL debut vs. Canadiens

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey will soon get the moment he's waited three years for.

The 20-year-old will make his NHL debut when the Jets take on the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Morrissey was drafted in the first round by the Jets in 2013, but returned to the Western Hockey League for the following two seasons. He has spent this year with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League where he has three goals and 22 points in 56 games.

"This smile hasn't left my face since yesterday when I got the call," Morrissey told Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. "It's a culmination of a lot of work to get to this point. It's so exciting."

Morrissey will have his parents in attendance for his first taste of the NHL. Meanwhile for the Jets, defenseman Jacob Trouba will miss Saturday's contest as he deals with an upper-body injury.

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