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Capitals went back to basics

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    December 19, 2018 11:43 AM IST
    PITTSBURGH (AP) Taylor Hall just wants to contribute to the New Jersey Devils‘ playoff run.The Devils are happy that he’s contributing at a historic pace.Hall equaled the Devils’ franchise record with points in 15 straight games [url=http://www.officialblues.com/authentic-adidas-dmitrij-jaskin-jersey]http://www.officialblues.com/authentic-adidas-dmitrij-jaskin-jersey[/url] , Stefan Noesen scored the only goal of the third period and New Jersey beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Tuesday night.”The points feel more important and that’s a really good feeling as a player,” Hall said. ”We’re in the middle of a playoff run and games are important, so I’m happy that I’m able to do my part.”Noesen, playing in his 100th NHL game, broke a 2-2 tie with his ninth of the season five minutes into the third. He tipped Andy Greene’s attempt from the side boards behind Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith.Hall equaled a career high with his 27th goal and had an assist. Hall, who missed three games with a hand injury, has points in the last 22 games in which he’s played, scoring 15 goals and 32 points during that span. He’s the fifth player in the last 25 years with at least one point in 22 consecutive appearances.”The first period, I probably touched the puck five or six times and I get an assist in the neutral zone,” Hall said. ”That’s the way it’s going. You score points in 22 straight games, there’s got to be some luck involved, and things are going your way, but you want to create those chances.”Sidney Crosby scored his 21st goal and Matt Hunwick tallied his fourth for the Penguins, whose 11-game home win streak ended.The Penguins, who have won 11 of 15 overall, lost in Pittsburgh for the first time since Jan. 4. It was their longest home winning streak since a franchise-record 13-game run during the 2013-14 season.”I don’t think you can exhale and take it easy,” Crosby said. ”You have to find a way to keep that hunger. It’s going to be a fight until the end and we have to have a consistent effort.”Kyle Palmieri scored his 17th goal for the Devils, who are fighting for an Eastern Conference wild card spot. New Jersey has won six of eight after losing eight of its previous 11.Keith Kinkaid made 36 saves for the Devils in his 26th appearance, matching a career high.DeSmith, a rookie, stopped 35 shots for Pittsburgh. He was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Monday. Penguins starter Matt Murray is out indefinitely with a concussion after he took a puck to the mask during Monday’s practice.”Obviously [url=http://www.officialblues.com/authentic-adidas-jaden-schwartz-jersey]Youth Jaden Schwartz Jersey[/url] , we want Matt to be healthy,” DeSmith said. ”But the playoff run coming up is really key.”Derick Brassard figures to be a key part of the Penguins’ postseason push.Brassard made his debut for Pittsburgh after he was acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 23. Brassard, who received an ovation before his first shift, primarily centered the Penguins’ third line, starting with Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary before mixing in Riley Sheahan later in the game.”It’s going to take me a couple games to get a feel for my linemates and a feel for the way we play,” Brassard said.Brassard spent the last three days in Toronto sorting out immigration paperwork before joining his new teammates for Tuesday’s morning skate. The 30-year-old Brassard is in his 10th NHL season, but he said he was nervous when he arrived at the rink.Pittsburgh is trying to become the first team since the 1982-83 New York Islanders to win three straight Stanley Cups, and the Penguins aggressively pursued Brassard, who averaged 19 goals and 48 points during the last five seasons with Ottawa and the New York Rangers.”I was kind of nervous a little bit, which is part of the excitement of being here,” Brassard said. ”But after a couple shifts, I was in the game.”NOTES: F Patrick Maroon did not play for the Devils. He was acquired on Monday from the Edmonton Oilers. … The Penguins signed F Patric Hornqvist to a five-year, $26.5 million contract that carries an average annual value of $5.3 million per season. Hornqvist, who won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. … The Devils sent G Cory Schneider to Binghamton of the American Hockey League for a conditioning assignment. … Pittsburgh recalled G Tristan Jarry on an emergency basis following Murray’s injury. … Tom Kuhnhackl returned to the Penguins’ lineup after missing eight games with a lower-body injury.UP NEXTDevils: Continue a three-game road trip Thursday at Florida.Penguins: Visit Boston on Thursday.— SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Ask Florida forward Vincent Trocheck who the best three players in the NHL are right now, and the first two names he offers wouldn’t surprise anyone.The third might.Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby would almost certainly be on everybody’s list, so he was an easy pick by Trocheck. Same goes for Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, the NHL’s two-time reigning scoring champion and brightest young star. But that third name is of somebody that the casual hockey fan still might not know, and that’s something the Panthers are determined to change this season.Yes, Florida thinks Aleksander Barkov is elite. The Panthers’ hopes rest on being right.“He’s been that good [url=http://www.officialblues.com/authentic-adidas-jake-allen-jersey]Jake Allen Jersey[/url] ,” Trocheck said. “It’s just a matter of people starting to realize it now.”Barkov led the Panthers with 78 points last season, three more than Trocheck. He went to the All-Star Game Star for the first time, led the league with five shorthanded goals, tied for fourth in the NHL with eight gamewinning goals. And he showed the Panthers enough growth that the team decided it was time to make the 23-year-old Finnish center their captain starting this season.It’s his team now, without question.“I tell you what, man, he’s probably the most complete player I’ve ever played with,” Florida goalie Roberto Luongo said. “Both ends of the rink, he’s so smart, so strong, always in great position. I’ve played with some great players, but the fact that he’s so good offensively and responsible defensively in his own zone, it’s hard to find guys like that.”Consider the magnitude of Luongo’s statement — “the most complete player” — for a second.Luongo has played with some serious greats: Pavel Bure, Joe Nieuwendyk, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mats Sundin, Ryan Kesler and Jaromir Jagr among them in the NHL, say nothing of the absurdly loaded teams he’s been part of representing Canada at the Olympics.He insists it’s not just current-teammate favoritism. Barkov is that good, fueled in large part by the lessons he learned by playing with Jagr.“Jags was a big part of that,” Luongo said. “When Jags was here he kind of took him under his wing a little bit [url=http://www.officialblues.com/authentic-adidas-joel-edmundson-jersey]Joel Edmundson Jersey[/url] , with workouts, coming to skate with him at night, all that kind of stuff. I think it plays a huge role in his taking the next step as far as dominating and being the player he is today.”So Barkov is Florida’s star.He’s not a reluctant star. He’s just reluctant to talk about being said star.Florida doesn’t get on national television often, has been to the playoffs only once in Barkov’s five seasons and hasn’t won a playoff series since he was 9 months old. That creates an ironic situation — the Panthers want more people to know who Barkov is, and Barkov wants minimal if any part of getting additional attention.“All I want to think about is going on the ice, help the team to win, score goals and play defense and not to get scored on,” said Barkov, who should contend for the Selke Trophy — presented to the NHL’s best defensive forward. “I don’t really want to think about where I stand in the Selke ratings or whatever. Of course, that would be nice to win that one day, but all I want is to make the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup.”When told about how effusive Luongo was in his praise, Barkov shrugged.“Lu can joke sometimes,” Barkov said.It was then made clear to Barkov that Luongo was serious, as was Trocheck. Finally, almost grudgingly, Barkov accepted their sentiments.“I’m happy to hear that from them,” Barkov said. “All I want to do is help Lu and help Troch. I’m really happy to be with them on this team.”Florida missed the playoffs by a point last season, and a team that has touted itself as young and building knows it’s at the point where it’s time to take the next step.The Panthers are certain that Barkov can get them there.“Honestly, I think he has another level,” Luongo said. “It’s kind of scary to think about that.”

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