Matt Murray stopped 28 shots

NEW YORK (AP) — to keep up his
strong play since returning from an injury ,
and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 7-2 on Wednesday night for
their season-high seventh straight victory.Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake
Guentzel, Kris Letang and Dominik Simon each had a goal and an assist. Zach
Aston-Reese and Tanner Pearson also scored to help the Penguins win for the
ninth time in 10 games. Patric Hornqvist had two assists.Murray improved to 6-0
with a 1.49 goals-against average in six games since coming back from a
lower-body injury Dec. 15. He also moved to 8-0 in his career against the
Rangers, including the playoffs.Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the
Rangers. They are 2-0-2 in their previous four games and 2-0-5 in their past
seven at home.Henrik Lundqvist, picked as an All-Star for the fifth time earlier
in the day, gave up six goals on 18 shots before he was pulled less than five
minutes into the third period. Alexandar Georgiev replaced him and finished with
six saves.OILERS 3, COYOTES 1GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Connor McDavid scored two
goals and assisted on another to help Edmonton beat Arizona to end a six-game
losing streak.McDavid raised his team-leading total to 61 points (23 goals, 38
assists). He began the night fourth in the NHL in scoring, and has 12 points in
the past five games.Leon Draisaitl scored his 22nd of the season for Edmonton,
his sixth goal in five games. Draisaitl also had an assist and Mikko Koskinen
stopped 29 shots for his 12th win.Brad Richardson scored for Arizona.CANUCKS 4,
SENATORS 3, OTOTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Elias Pettersson completed a hat trick in
overtime and Vancouver held off Ottawa.Pettersson’s second goal put Vancouver
ahead 3-1 early in the third period, but Christian Wolanin and Mark Stone scored
for Ottawa, with Stone tying it with 50 seconds left.Pettersson won it by
burying a 2-on-1 feed from Brock Boeser. Pettersson was named an All-Star for
the first time earlier in the day. The 20-year-old rookie has 22 goals.Sven
Baertschi also scored for the Canucks Youth
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, and Jacob Markstrom stopped 30
shots.Matt Duchene also scored for the Senators.STARS 5, DEVILS 4DALLAS (AP) —
Miro Heiskanen celebrated his first All-Star nod with two goals, including a
third-period tiebreaker, to lift Dallas past New Jersey.Heiskanen and Tyler
Seguin each scored twice after Jamie Benn tied it at 1 in the first period.
Heiskanen, a 19-year-old rookie defenseman, has nine goals.Seguin and Benn have
been under scrutiny since Stars CEO Jim Lites ripped Dallas’ highest-paid
players Friday for “terrible play.” Seguin ended a five-game goal drought that
dated almost two weeks. Benn scored in his second straight game but didn’t play
for most of the final two periods because of an upper-body injury.Kyle Palmieri,
Jesper Bratt, Drew Stafford and Brian Boyle scored for New Jersey.FLAMES 5, RED
WINGS 3DETROIT (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau’s power-play goal with 10:23 left lifted
Calgary past Detroit.Detroit led 2-0 after one period, but the Flames rallied to
hand the Red Wings their sixth straight loss. Sean Monahan, TJ Brodie, Elias
Lindholm and Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary.Darren Helm, Jacob de la
Rose and Andreas Athanasiou scored for Detroit.Gaudreau put the Flames ahead 4-3
after a slick play by Matthew Tkachuk, who stickhandled below the goal line and
then slipped a pass between goalie Jimmy Howard and the side of the net.
Gaudreau was in front to tap in the puck for his 22nd goal of the season.SHARKS
5, AVALANCHE 4DENVER (AP) — Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each had a goal and
three assists, Martin Jones made 31 saves and San Jose held off Colorado.Evander
Kane, Joonas Donskoi and Lukas Radil also scored for the Sharks. They extended
Colorado’s recent slide after a 9-0-2 stretch lifted the Avalanche into first
place in the Central Division in early December.Tyson Jost scored
twice Brandin
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, and Matt Calvert and Tyson Barrie also had
goals for Colorado. The Avalanche have dropped six in a row, two in overtime,
and are 3-8-3 since Dec. 4. There are questions Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike
Babcock won’t touch with a 10-foot hockey stick.The challenge a team brimming
with young talent faces in managing its payroll structure was one topic Babcock
particularly enjoyed sidestepping shortly after Toronto and forward William
Nylander ended a lengthy contract dispute this month.“Well, I think you’ve got
to talk to a manager about that,” said Babcock, referring to general manager
Kyle Dubas.” I just coach the players.”Babcock was so pleased with his response,
he winked and added: “I bailed on that one, eh?”Funny, sure, but it doesn’t make
the issue go away.Nylander signing a six-year, $41.4 million contract was merely
a prelude to what will be a busy 2019 for Dubas, who will have to be creative in
keeping the young core of his team intact within the constraints of the NHL’s
projected $83 million salary cap. With $55 million in salary already on the
books for next season, the Leafs have little wiggle room with 2016 first-round
draft pick Auston Matthews and forward Mitchell Marner, the team’s current
leading scorer, both completing the final years of their contracts.Matthews, who
followed up his 40-goal rookie season with 34 last year, is expected to command
a contract similar to the eight-year Authentic
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, $100 million deal Edmonton Oilers captain
Connor McDavid signed in the summer of 2017. And Marner, the fourth pick in the
2015 draft, likely won’t be far behind because he is on pace to top the career
highs of 22 goals and 69 points he had last season.“I don’t think any of our
group and our whole organization should forgo the enjoyment of the season
because we have good players that need contracts,” he said. “I think it’s a
fortunate position that we’re in.”Dubas is not the only one in this fix.In
Winnipeg, forwards Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and defenseman Jacob Trouba are
eligible to become restricted free agents. With an eye on the future, the Jets
were unable to retain Peter Stastny, who elected to sign a better offer with
Vegas last summer.In Buffalo, newly acquired forward Jeff Skinner’s asking price
goes up with each goal he scores. Skinner has 25 already to match last season’s
total and ranks second in the NHL behind only Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin.
Skinner will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if the Sabres can’t
re-sign him.Buffalo will have money to spend, but has to be cautious with center
Jack Eichel in the first year of his eight-year, $80 million contract. And the
team will also have to keep open a large portion of cap space once No. 1 overall
pick Rasmus Dahlin’s entry-level contract expires in three years.The question
becomes how teams retain their young stars while keeping enough money aside to
fill the remainder of their roster.“The philosophy is simple, and you’re seeing
it around the league. The only way you can keep a lot of your top-end players is
if you have other players coming up through the system,” Sabres GM Jason
Botterill said, placing an emphasis on scouting and player development.Botterill
saw that firsthand working in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins complemented their
core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang by filtering in younger
players on cheaper entry-level contracts.Still, it can get complicated once a
team’s high-priced core starts aging.The troubles are apparent in
Chicago Robert Woods
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, which won three Stanley Cups from 2010-15 with
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews but is now a team in transition with some big
contracts in place. It’s no different in Los Angeles, where the Kings have been
eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and missed the postseason three
times since 2014, when they won their second Cup in three years.“It’s not a
perfect business,” Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. “You make decisions
and you may wake up two years later with different information, but it’s too
late and you have to manage around that decision.”What’s changed over the past
decade? Teams are spending more money on retaining players over adding them in
free agency.It’s a philosophy that places an emphasis on evaluating potential at
a younger age and determining whether they can perform to the value of their
contract. Otherwise, a team could be stuck with a player with a high-priced
guaranteed contract that handcuffs future decisions.“I don’t think there’s any
easier answer to it. I mean, you just have to make the right decisions on the
player,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said. “One bad contract
and it knocks everything out of line.”Poile has done an adept job in maintaining
a competitor on a roster that features six players taking up a combined $40.25
million in salary cap space this year.Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said keeping a
team’s payroll structure in line also requires making unpopular
decisions.“You’ve got to be willing to say, ‘You know what, the guy that doesn’t
quite fit in that core, we may need to make a decision that you have to move
him,'” Nill said. “I know sometimes fans are going to say, ‘Whoa, why are they
doing that?’ You’ve got no choice.”The Maple Leafs are among the exceptions in
trying to build through the draft and free agency, after signing John Tavares to
a seven-year, $77 million contract last summer.Dubas insists retaining the
team’s young talent is “of vital importance.” Re-signing Nylander was the first
step.BUFFA-LOVEAfter missing the playoffs during each of his eight seasons in
Carolina, Skinner is enjoying the buzz the Sabres have created in
Buffalo ,
a year after finishing last for the third time in five years.“I haven’t really
been here before and realized how much they love the Sabres. It’s been fun,”
said Skinner, who waived his no-trade clause to approve the Hurricanes dealing
him to Buffalo for prospect forward Cliff Pu and three draft picks in August.
“Hopefully, we can keep giving them something to be proud of.”Skinner was
reminded of how those same fans want him to stay in Buffalo beyond this
season.“Ha, ha, I’ve heard,” Skinner said. I’m having a lot of fun, too.”LEADERS
(through Tuesday)Points: Mikko Rantanen (Colorado), 56; Game-winning goals:
Skinner and Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado), 6; Rookie goals: Elias Petterson
(Vancouver), 17; Goals-against average: Pekka Rinne (Nashville), 2.07; Shutouts:
Marc-Andre Fleury (Vegas), 5.GAME OF THE WEEKSidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh
Penguins travel to face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on Wednesday night.
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