Tougher Malkin gives rising Penguins an edge

He is only four points back of the leaders, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Chicago’s Patrick Kane, both of whom have played eight more games than him.Malkin hasn’t played a full NHL season since 2008-09, but if he stays healthy the rest of the way, he could get to 75, his highest total in five years. Gino wants to play a tough game. With a win, the Penguins would move into first place in the overall NHL standing, ahead of their main Metropolitan Division rivals, the Washington Capitals.Malkin presents a unique challenge to teams because he is both brawny and skilled, and therefore can beat you in a number of ways.Pittsburgh’s surge is in no small part due to Malkin’s strong play of late. “He’s a big guy and obviously, is willing to muck it up and rough around. If the Penguins have any designs on defending the Stanley Cup they won last year, they will need another big push from the big centre.Flames defenceman Matt Bartkowski is from Pittsburgh and was playing for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League when the Penguins made it to the 2007-08 Stanley Cup final. There are very few guys who can almost singlehandedly do that – but he’s one. The way he’s playing right now, he’s really motivated and it’s pretty much impossible to stop him.”Malkin is fifth in the NHL scoring race this season with 72 points in 61 games. In a three-to-five-game stretch, he can put up crazy numbers.”Malkin is in the midst of one of those stretches, 10 points in six games heading into Wednesday night’s date with the Philadelphia Flyers. Some guys want to go around you and make it easy. So when they next faced off, Wheeler asked Malkin to face the music and they squared off, dropping gloves, Wheeler getting the better of the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Russian in a scrap. A sign of just how far Evgeni Malkin’s NHL assimilation has come took place a week ago, in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ game against the Winnipeg Jets. Generally, he and Crosby work together on the team’s first power-play unit, but play on separate lines at even strength, which creates all kinds of match-up issues for opposing teams.“He’s a competitor, that’s probably the biggest thing about Gino, just the way he competes,” Crosby explained. And when he’s on, he’s one of those guys, where it can happen in bunches for him. As they skated to the penalty box, TV cameras caught Wheeler giving Malkin a friendly tap on the shoulder, a thank you of sorts for doing the old-timey hockey thing and answering the bell.Don Cherry gushed about the exchange on Hockey Night in Canada, and Malkin acknowledged it was the right thing to do – saying in his still occasionally fractured English that he had no issue with adhering to the NHL’s unofficial code that, for better or worse, bubbles below the surface.Presumably, it can be a difficult thing for a player steeped in a different hockey ethic – Russia’s, not the NHL’s – to understand what’s expected when someone such Wheeler challenges him.“But he’s learned a lot just about the culture over the years,” said Chris Kunitz, the Penguins’ long-time forward and Malkin’s current linemate. He moves side to side as well as anybody – and he’s also one of those guys with a high hockey IQ, who knows what’s going to happen before it happens.“There’s only a few of them in the league – and they happen to have two of them.” A year later, Bartkowski was a freshman at Ohio State when the Penguins won the championship and Malkin was playoff MVP.“I don’t know if there’s a better one-two punch in the league than Crosby and Malkin,” said Bartkowski, who praised Malkin for “his strength, his range and his ability to protect the puck. When you see him going like he is, and dominate the way he can, that’s big for us. “When he’s going and he’s got possession of the puck, or he wants the puck, it’s not going to be fun trying to get it off him, and it’s not going to be fun to stop him.“He just has that ability to take over a shift or make a big play in the game. You probably saw it on the highlights.The first time the Jets and Penguins played this season, Malkin made his presence felt by laying out Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler with a borderline hit, a big man delivering a crushing blow that Wheeler didn’t much appreciate. The second player chosen in the 2004 entry draft behind countryman Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, Malkin stayed an extra year in Russia to play for a Canadian coach, Dave King, in his hometown, the steel city of Magnitogorsk.Ovechkin, along with Malkin’s Pittsburgh teammate Sidney Crosby, became the post-lockout faces of the NHL, but it was Malkin’s arrival a year later that solidified the Penguins as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.Malkin won the Calder Trophy in 2007 as the NHL’s rookie of the year; and has subsequently won the Hart Trophy (as NHL MVP in 2012), the Conn Smythe trophy (as playoff MVP in 2009), plus two NHL scoring titles (2009, 2012).Like Crosby, he has had his share of injuries, which is why he had only 644 games on his NHL résumé going into the season (even though he produced an eye-popping 760 points over that span).But while Ovechkin is still chasing his first Stanley Cup title, Malkin has won two and been to the final a third time.

Monaco, Atletico Madrid advance to Champions League quarter-final

The German club was eliminated by Atletico at this same stage in a penalty shootout two seasons ago.Trailing 5-3 from the first leg of their Round of 16 match, Monaco made the perfect start. “The gap between the first and the second halves is there. Confirming his reputation as a rising star of European soccer, 18-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé scored from close range in the eighth minute for his 11th goal in 11 games.Brazilian midfielder Fabinho made it 2-0 in the 29th with a crisp shot from near the penalty spot after excellent work by left back Benjamin Mendy.Three weeks ago, City had rallied from 3-2 down with three goals in the last 20 minutes and Pep Guardiola’s side needed another comeback on the French Riviera.City played much better in the second half, with Sané scoring after City top scorer Sergio Agüero had missed good chances.The fleet-footed Sane was one of City’s best players in the first leg and came alive after the break, smashing the ball into the roof of the net after Danijel Subasic’s save from Raheem Sterling’s low shot fell right into his path.That gave City hope.But it was not enough, and Monaco’s players rushed to the centre circle to mob each other as the final whistle blew. “We’re very proud, we deserve it.” But six minutes later Bakayoko rose imperiously to meet Thomas Lemar’s curling free kick and restore the two-goal margin Monaco needed as the contest finished 6-6 on aggregate. It’s the same question I am asking myself.”In Madrid, goalkeeper Jan Oblak made a series of great saves as Atletico Madrid held Bayer Leverkusen to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday and advanced to the quarter-final of the Champions League for the fourth straight season.Oblak came up big every time Leverkusen got close to his goal, proving crucial for Atletico as it protected its 4-2 first-leg victory in the Round of 16.Oblak made three spectacular consecutive saves midway through the second half to end Leverkusen’s hopes of overturning the defeat in Germany.Leverkusen was trying to reach the quarter-final for the first time since it lost to Real Madrid in the 2002 final. Their lap of honour was richly deserved, especially considering the side’s goal tally now stands at 126 this season.“We deserve to qualify over the two games,” Bakayoko said. City coach Pep Guardiola lamented the fact that his side had failed to compete in the first half.“At this level, you have to play more than 45 minutes. You ask me why? We only played for 45 minutes,” Guardiola said. Midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko’s thumping header sent Monaco through to the Champions League quarter-final round as the home side beat Manchester City 3-1 on Wednesday to progress on the away goals rule in another pulsating match between two attack-minded sides.City fought back from 2-0 down and was momentarily in control after midfielder Leroy Sané’s 71st-minute goal.

U.S. judge rejects Bettman’s bid to restore Wideman’s 20-game suspension

District Court, Southern District of New York, No. A U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said the NHL failed to show that the arbitrator, Georgetown University law professor James Oldham, exceeded his authority under the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) in halving the suspension. 27, 2016 game, with the Nashville Predators, leaving Henderson with a concussion. judge on Wednesday rejected National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman’s bid to restore Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman’s 20-game suspension for hitting a linesman, and instead upheld an arbitrator’s decision to shorten the ban to 10 games.U.S. “Because it is at least arguable that the arbitrator applied the standard of review bargained for in the CBA, the award must be confirmed,” Nathan wrote in a 27-page decision.The NHL, in a statement, said it thought it had met the “very high judicial standard” to void the arbitrator’s decision, but was “prepared to turn the page and move on.”Jonathan Weatherdon, a spokesman for the players’ union, said the NHLPA was pleased with the decision.Wideman, who turns 34 on Monday, was suspended for cross-checking linesman Don Henderson in a Jan. 16-04287. 5 to a 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.The case is National Hockey League v National Hockey League Players’ Association, U.S. The defenseman eventually served 19 games of the suspension.In seeking to restore the original ban, the NHL said Oldham ignored substantial evidence justifying it, and did not act as a “neutral discipline arbitrator” as the CBA required.But the NHLPA countered that last April’s federal appeals court decision restoring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game National Football League suspension for deflating footballs showed that courts have only limited authority to review labor arbitration decisions.Nathan agreed, saying she owed “substantial deference” to Oldham, and that it was “at least arguable” he applied proper deference to Bettman’s decision before rejecting it.“Whether or not his ultimate conclusion was the only reasonable one,” Nathan wrote, “the arbitrator’s analytical process does not make unambiguously clear that he failed to apply the proper standard of review.”Brady served his four-game suspension, but upon returning led the Patriots on Feb.

Kyrgios stuns Djokovic again to reach BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals

Australian Nick Kyrgios stunned Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-6(3) on Wednesday to secure his second victory over the world number two in less than two weeks and advance to the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.Kyrgios, who beat Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Acapulco 13 days ago in their first career meeting, once again served exceptionally as he fired down 14 aces, won 86 percent of his first serves and did not face a break point the entire way. So I guess that’s what made a difference.”Kyrgios broke Djokovic in the opening game of the match en route to grabbing the first set and in the tiebreaker raced out to a 3-0 lead that was ultimately too much for Djokovic, who needed three sets to get by Juan Martin Del Potro on Tuesday. I am very proud of it, obviously,” Djokovic told reporters. Unfortunately, it was today.“Nick, again, as he did in Acapulco earlier, he served so well. The Australian will face Roger Federer in the quarter-finals after the Swiss beat Rafa Nadal in straight sets.“The run was amazing. “It had to end at some stage. Just wasn’t managing to get a lot of balls back on his serve, first and second, as well.

Flames’ 10-game winning streak ends with 5-2 loss to Bruins

“I give them credit. Calgary C Matt Stajan had an assist to give him 400 career points… Flames D Michael Stone (upper body) has missed three games but he’s getting closer to a return. He then gave them a lift just a few minutes later.On his second shift upon returning from the Bruins medical room, Backes scored the game-winning goal as Boston defeated Calgary 5-2 on Wednesday to end the Flames’ 10-game winning streak. Johnson had 27 stops in falling to 18-14-1.Notes: The two-goal deficit on Beleskey’s goal was the Flames first two-goal deficit since Feb. It was tough. “It’s maybe scary at the time, but you get back with the training staff and they rub it and kiss it and make it feel better and you’re able to return to the game,” said Backes, who appeared to hurt his knee early in the night when got tied up with Flames defenceman Mark Giordano and slid into the corner boards.But he returned seven minutes into the second period and at 11:03, he took a pass from David Krejci on a 3-on-2 and whipped a wrist shot over the glove of Chad Johnson.“It’s going to take a little more than that to keep him out,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “He got some treatment in between periods and told us he was going to give it a try and it worked out well for us.“He scored a big goal for us and played some key shifts for us down the stretch.”Cassidy improved to 12-3-0 since taking over for the fired Claude Julien.Scoring Boston’s first goal to tie it 1-1 in the first period and also adding an empty netter was David Pastrnak, who has 30 goals on the season.The 20-year-old Czech says playing with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Krejci sure helps.“It’s just great and easy for me to play with those kind of players,” Pastrnak said.Brad Marchand, with his league-leading 36th goal, and Matt Beleskey also scored for Boston (38-26-6). He had nine of the victories and over that span had a 1.74 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.However, Elliott woke up with the flu Wednesday morning and was told to stay home. “I haven’t played a lot and when you come in there, you don’t want to be the guy to be in the net when (the streak) ends.”Anton Khudobin finished with 21 saves to win his fourth straight decision and even his record at 5-5-1. They were just better than us.”One of the best players during Calgary’s franchise record-tying win streak had been goaltender Brian Elliott. Third in the Pacific, the Flames are up one point on the Edmonton Oilers, who hold a game in hand.“It was a great streak. The Bruins fourth straight win moves them to within three points of the second-place Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division.Marchand has 26 goals in his last 29 games.Alex Chiasson and Dougie Hamilton replied for Calgary (39-27-4). 24. 13…. He was a regular participant at Wednesday’s morning skate. Johnson got the start instead with Jon Gillies called up from Stockton (AHL) to be the back-up.Elliott’s absence was felt with Johnson looking shaky on the first two goals.“I didn’t feel very good, to be honest. David Backes gave his team some relief when he returned from a potential injury. We’ve got to regroup though, not let this one get us down too much,” said Flames captain Mark Giordano.The hottest team in the NHL since the all-star break at 14-3-1, Glen Gulutzan says his team needs to get used to the opposition getting up to play them.“You don’t get a ‘B’ game, you get an ‘A’ game and we got an ‘A’ game from Boston,” said Calgary’s coach. Boston welcomed back C Ryan Spooner (concussion) after missing three games… Some weird bounces, some bad goals,” said Johnson, who last played on Feb.

USA Hockey sets deadline for women’s players in wage fight

The tournament begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan, with training camp set to begin next week. Soccer Federation.Lamoureux-Davidson said the hockey players have been in touch with soccer players about their dispute. women’s soccer players, who last year filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the U.S. EDT to decide, USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said. An attorney for the players, John Langel, called the gap a “chasm.” Players have said they won’t attend training camp next Wednesday or play in the tournament unless there are clear steps toward a four-year contract.“This is one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make as a team, I think, in all of our careers,” Duggan said. USA Hockey set a Thursday deadline for members of the women’s national team to decide whether they will play in the world championships after they threatened to boycott the tournament because of a wage dispute.The organization has told players they have until 5 p.m. “Being willing to stand up and sacrifice an opportunity like that, to host a world championship on home soil, to defend a gold medal, I think it just shows how passionate we are and how serious we are.”USA Hockey said the organization and the U.S. 1 competition to represent our country on a world stage. “Good luck getting a suitable No. Olympic Committee provide national team players with financial support, training opportunities, camps and strength and conditioning programs.“We have communicated that increased level of support to the players’ representatives and look forward to continuing our discussions,” USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said.USA Hockey said each player participating in the Olympics in South Korea next February could receive up to $85,000, which also includes medal incentives.Duggan called the statement “completely misleading and dishonest,” and the law firm representing the players said no $85,000 offer was made. men’s team is comprised of highly paid NHL players, as are most established men’s national teams.Canada, the world’s other women’s hockey powerhouse, puts more money into the sport in part because of government funding. The U.S. She added that players are also asking for insurance and travel expenses they don’t feel are provided on an equal level as men’s players.Neither USA Hockey nor the players would reveal details of the wages in dispute or how the men’s team is compensated. Hockey Canada general manager of women’s programs Melody Davidson said development players receive $900 a month and senior-level players $1,500 a month even outside Olympic years and that players are supported full-time for nine months around the Olympics.“We get paid for six months out of a four-year span,” said Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who recently received a check for December Series games against Canada.The wage dispute follows one by U.S. Players only have contracts in Olympic years and are seeking a deal that covers them during the remaining 3 1/2 years.Some 14 months of negotiations have gone nowhere. “It’ll be interesting to see who they come up with.”After learning USA Hockey was attempting to find an alternate team, the players said “we regret that they have not instead chosen to reconsider their treatment of the current world championship-winning team.”Several players said USA Hockey pays players $1,000 per month during their six-month Olympic residency period. team are skeptical that will happen in the event of a boycott.“We’re unanimously united as a player pool,” standout Hilary Knight said. is the defending gold medallist. It’s tough.”Stars such as Knight, Amanda Kessel, captain Meghan Duggan and twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando are leading the charge to skip the tournament. I kind of dare them. The deadline comes one day after the team announced it would boycott the tournament, citing a lack of progress in getting a labour pact with USA Hockey. Knight thinks other players who might be asked will turn down the offer.“If you ask older players, they’re going to say no because they’ve been through the wringer on these issues, and if you ask the younger players, unanimously they’re going to say no because they believe in what we’re doing,” Knight said in a phone interview on Wednesday. The U.S. They are seeking more pay and a four-year deal.USA Hockey said it will “field a competitive team” for the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Hockey Championship, but members of the U.S.