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SIDNEY Crosby’s teammates keep saying nothing ever changes with the Pittsburgh Penguins captain. That the secret to his greatness is really no secret at all. The Penguins believe he remains the same player and the same person every shift, every night.

In theory, yes. But not always in practice.

What separates Crosby is an ability to raise his play in lock-step with the stakes. His team’s grasp on a second straight Stanley Cup tenuous at best heading into Game 5 against Nashville on Thursday, Crosby did more than send a message. He took over. And he led. In more ways than one.

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Sure, Crosby dished out three assists in Pittsburgh’s lopsided 6-0 win to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead in their increasingly coarse series with the Predators. Yet becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in points during this Stanley Cup Final (surpassing his boss, Mario Lemieux) captures only a slice of the brilliance and brawn (yes, really) that pushed Pittsburgh to the verge of a fifth title.

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NHL news 2021, Matiss Kivlenieks dead, death, dies, Ice hockey star dies, fireworks accident, July 4th, how, age, Columbus Blue Jackets

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Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died Sunday night as a result of what the organisation described as a “tragic accident” with fireworks.

In a statement Monday morning, the Blue Jackets said medical personnel was called immediately to attend to Kivlenieks, but he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

It was originally reported that he slipped while attempting to jump out of a hot tub with others after a fireworks malfunction, then hit his head on concrete. However, it was later revealed that he died from chest trauma as a result of a fireworks blast, according to AP.

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“We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his mother, Astrida, his family and friends during this devastating time,” Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson said in a statement. “Kivi was an outstanding young man who greeted every day and everyone with a smile and the impact he had during his four years with our organisation will not be forgotten.”

Kivlenieks, who had recently competed for his native country Latvia at the IIHF World Championships, started in two games for Columbus this NHL season. The undrafted netminder had six NHL starts and eight appearances to his name dating back to 2019-20. He was expected to compete for more playing time next season.

“Life is so precious and can be so fragile,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted. “Hug your loved ones today. RIP Matiss, you will be dearly missed.”

After signing with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in 2017, Kivlenieks made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2020. He turned aside 31 of the 32 shots he faced to lift Columbus to a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.

Kivlenieks, who was dubbed the 2017 USHL Player of the Year, finishes his NHL career with a 2-2-2 record and a 3.09 goals-against average with a .899 save percentage.

“The National Hockey League was saddened to learn of the sudden and tragic passing of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Monday. “On behalf of the NHL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates in both the Blue Jackets organisation and his native country of Latvia. His love for life and passion for the game will be deeply missed by all those who have been fortunate to have him as a teammate and a friend.”

This article was originally published by the NY Post and reproduced with permission.

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Vegas Golden Knights Ryan Reave banned for pulling out chunk of hair, Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan Graves

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Vegas Golden Knights tough guy Ryan Reaves has been slapped with a two-game ban after he pulled out a “chunk” of the hair of Colorado Avalanche player Ryan Graves during Sunday’s NHL playoff match in Colorado.

Reaves, who has been suspended numerous times during his NHL career, was given a match penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, which occurred halfway through the third period of Colorado’s 7-1 game one victory.

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“During this scrum both the officials and Reaves acknowledge that a chunk of Graves’ hair was pulled out by Reaves,” the league’s Department of Safety said in a video statement.

Reaves also punched Graves in the back of the head and took him aggressively down to the ice. His actions sparked a fracas at the side of the net and led to a nine-minute Colorado powerplay.

Graves remained on the ice for several minutes before heading to the locker room.

In 686 career games, Reaves has 49 goals and 937 minutes in penalties while playing with St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas.

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Ice Hockey news, NHL, fight, video, New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals, why, pictures

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The Rangers’ measure of revenge came courtesy of their fists and not the scoreboard on Wednesday.

In the 4-2 loss to the Capitals, which came two days after Tom Wilson cheap-shotted his way against the Blueshirts, the teams took part in a wild rematch at the Garden that included six first-period fights and totalled 141 penalty minutes.

Wilson and his teammates were forced to answer for his punching of a defenceless Pavel Buchnevich and throwing Artemi Panarin to the ice on Monday, which resulted in Wilson receiving just a $5,000 fine from the NHL.

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