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NASHVILLE John Moore Jersey Womens ,NHL goaltenders prepare for the unpredictable, ready for pucks deflecting off sticks, bodies, feet or a divot in the ice, past all the gear designed to help defend their net.The freaky, fluky or simply weird goals can be laughed off by goalies who know sometimes the puck just takes a funny bounce.The goals that eat at a goalie are those he believes he could’ve — and should’ve — stopped. Not the goal allowed by Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin where the puck bounced off a Nashville forward’s back and over the net before hitting the back of the goalie’s helmet, then off his back and into the net.“It stings anytime you give up a goal,” Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said Tuesday. “That kind of goal, there’s nothing really he could’ve done. It’s a freaky goal, and I feel like those things maybe happen once, twice in a season. But yeah, the ones that hurt the most as a goalie, it’s the ones that you feel like you should’ve had it.”Stick-handling in the NHL has improved right along with players’ speed and skating thanks to offseason workouts. That also has boosted the creativity for shooters looking to do a bit more than a simple slap shot, wrister or snap shot.“There’s a lot of talent in the league, more maybe so now than there has been in years past,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “These young guys coming up, everybody has their own skills coaches and things like that. There’s a lot of skills. I don’t doubt there’s more highlight-reel goals.”Goaltenders have to be ready for the next move dreamed up by the league’s stars to put the puck over the line. Scoring is up with the average number of goals scored per game increasing in each of the past four seasons, and the current average of 3.06 goals per game is on pace to be the highest since the 2005-06 season, according to Hockey-Reference.com .“Maybe it’s the skill of the players too, finding that one spot,” Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer said. “(Evgeny) Kuznetsov in Washington, he’s so sneaky in terms of what he wants to do and doesn’t want to do. He puts the puck in spots. Maybe you get a weird bounce Chris Wagner Jersey Womens , hit a guy’s shin pad or something like that.”The NHL also keeps downsizing goaltenders’ pads, most recently chest protectors . Grubauer sees teams also changing how they break out on offense, attacking faster and giving goalies less time.“Back in the days, you always used to go back and regroup and break out as a unit,” Grubauer said. “I feel like the last couple of years, it’s always like, (snaps fingers) and up (snaps fingers) and up.”Sometimes goalies get lucky, too.Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton appeared to be losing his balance Sunday in the first period against Winnipeg with Adam Lowry coming in on a short-handed breakaway. Hutton put his glove down at the exact moment Lowry tried to slip the puck between the goalie’s legs for the save.“You definitely get some fluky saves where you’re beat and a guy just hits you,” Hutton said.The Sabres goalie also recalls being on his goal line when the puck came up, rolled over the top of the net, hit his neck and went in. He had another puck slip past him on a penalty shot in December against Florida.“You make the initial save, and it lands on my pads sideways and just slowly rolls off,” Hutton said. “That’s one where if it’s during a game, a D-man’s probably there to stop it or that puck lands flat on my pad and doesn’t go in. It’s unfortunate that it lands sideways and rolls off my pad. So that’s one that I would say this year that’s been fluky.”There’s one goal so weird it’s called the Butt Goal.Defenseman Mark Pysyk, now with Florida, got his first goal of the 2013 season right before Christmas in overtime after jamming at the puck, sending it into the air and into the pants of Coyotes goalie Mike Smith who then backedinto his own net.“I didn’t think they would call it a goal, because I didn’t think they’d see it, but they did,” Pysyk said. “It was in his pants and he backed in. I think you could see me point at it. They counted it a little bit after, obviously, so I didn’t have a chance to celebrate normally. It was pretty funny.”SURPRISING ISLANDERSThe New York Islanders are atop the Metropolitan Division in coach Barry Trotz’s first season despite losing John Tavares last offseason to Toronto. They just snapped a three-game streak Tuesday night with a 3-1 loss in Buffalo but are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and remain second overall in the Eastern Conference.To Buffalo coach Phil Housley Alex Galchenyuk Jersey Womens , credit Trotz for using the same philosophy and structure from coaching in Nashville and winning the Stanley Cup with Washington last summer.“I really had a pleasure to work with him for one year and learned a lot from him,” Housley said. “You can see he’s had success wherever he’s went.”RIVALRY SERIESThe best of women’s hockey are back at it this week with the United States and Canada playing each other in a rare three-game “Rivalry Series” that ends Sunday in Detroit at the home of the Red Wings. The U.S. beat Canada nearly a year ago for Olympic gold and then won a fourth straight Four Nations Cup title last November. Kendall Coyne Schofield will be the U.S. captain for the series, which will be aired on NHL Network.“That’s something we’ve been fighting for, is more chances for us to play against Canada,” U.S. forward Dani Cameranesi said. “It’s not that often that we get to play at the highest level. We don’t really have that many chances for that, but for them all to be … on NHL Network too and for us to get coverage on that is a really big deal.”GAME OF THE WEEKThe Washington Capitals visit the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night in a matchup of two of the NHL’s top 10 teams.LEADERS (after Tuesday games)Goals: Alex Ovechkin (Washington), 38; Assists: Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay), 63; Points: Kucherov, 88; Ice time: Drew Doughty (Los Angeles), 26:45; Wins: Marc-Andre Fleury (Vegas), 29; Goals-against average: Robin Lehner (N.Y. Islanders), 2.08; Save percentage: Robin Lehner, (N.Y. Islanders), .929. John Tavares needed to post only one picture on his Twitter account to explain the grip the Maple Leafs have had on him since he was a youngster growing up in suburban Toronto.The photo featured a not-yet-10-year-old Tavares in bed, asleep on a pillowcase and under a blanket adorned with Maple Leafs logos, and accompanied by a note that read: ”Not everyday you can live a childhood dream.”In bidding farewell to the New York Islanders, where he was the captain and face of the franchise since being drafted with the No. 1 pick in 2009, Tavares chose Toronto and agreed to a seven-year, $77 million contract about an hour after the NHL’s free-agency signing period opened Sunday.The 27-year-old Tavares spent last week assessing offers from the Islanders, San Jose, Toronto, Dallas Carter Rowney Jersey Womens , Tampa Bay and Boston. He called his decision the toughest of his life in choosing between staying in New York or taking ”a calculated leap of faith into an opportunity I believe will be special to me and my family.”In the end, he was unable to avoid the lure Toronto presented, and informed the Maple Leafs he had chosen them late Saturday night.”I just felt this opportunity was just so rare, the timing of where the organization’s at, and obviously the connection being from here,” Tavares said. ”I really believe there’s a big window here to win, to be part of something special. It just felt right.”Tavares, whose 306 points over the past four seasons rank sixth among players over that span, was the highest-profile player to hit the market since the Minnesota Wild signed both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts.Tavares’ signing led to a domino effect in player movement.Toronto lost two forwards in free agency. James van Riemsdyk left the Maple Leafs after six seasons to return to Philadelphia, where he signed a five-year, $35 million contract. The Leafs also lost center Tyler Bozak, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract with St. Louis, which later on beefed up down the middle by acquiring Ryan O’Reilly in a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres.Some of money the Lightning saved by not landing Tavares was spent on signing defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year, $47.25 million extension, which kicks in next summer.Paul Stastny caused another ripple of moves in the Western Conference. He left Winnipeg to sign a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Stanley Cup finalist Vegas Golden Knights – a spot left open after David Perron returned to St. Louis by signing a four-year, $16 million deal.Vegas forward James Neal is among the more high-profile free agents still unsigned.In Nashville, the Predators will turn their attention to negotiating a contract extension with defenseman Ryan Ellis, who is entering the final year of his contract. The Ottawa Senators are expected to do the same with their captain, Erik Karlsson.Tavares’ signing has the potential of shifting the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.He joins a young Luke Schenn Jersey Womens , talented group that already features Auston Matthews, the 2016 draft’s No. 1 pick, a veteran presence in Patrick Marleau and a top coach in Mike Babcock.The Leafs, who haven’t won a championship since their last Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1967, have made strides in three years since Babcock’s arrival. Toronto has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons after qualifying just once in the previous 11. And yet, they have not advanced past the first round since 2004.Tavares specifically referenced Matthews and 21-year-old center Mitchell Marner, who led the Leafs with 69 points last season as reasons to be optimistic.”They’ve accomplished so much in such little time. You can only think about the trajectory they’re on, and that’s what gets me excited,” Tavares said.The Islanders experienced struggles even with Tavares by qualifying for the playoffs just three times in nine seasons.Now they face a daunting uphill climb minus their unquestioned leader and point-a-game producer. In a bid to retain Tavares, the team underwent an organizational makeover in recent months. They hired Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations and fresh Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz as coach.”The New York Islanders would like to thank John Tavares for everything he has done for the franchise throughout his nine seasons,” Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. ”We wish him and his family all the best.”Bruins GM Don Sweeney expressed one lament in losing out on signing Tavares.”I would have preferred it not be in our division,” Sweeney said, referring to Tavares making the switch from the Metropolitan to Atlantic Division. ”We put our best foot forward. It just didn’t fall our way.”Other notable deals:-Veteran defenseman Jack Johnson signed a five-year, $16.25 million contract with Pittsburgh. The 31-year-old Johnson is a 12-year NHL veteran, who spent the past six-plus seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.-The Colorado Avalanche added two former Blue Jackets in signing defenseman Ian Cole and forward Matt Calvert to three-year deals. Cole gets $12.75 million and Calvert gets $8.4 million.-The Sabres filled a need at goaltender by signing former St. Louis Blues backup Carter Hutton to a three-year, $8.25 million deal. Hutton will share the starting duties with Linus Ullmark, who is pegged to make the jump to Buffalo after three seasons in the minors.-The Arizona Coyotes signed All-Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract extension that averages $8.25 million per year.-The San Jose Sharks announced a $64 million, eight-year extension with center Logan Couture.-The New York Rangers agreed to sign restricted free-agent forward Vladislav Namestnikov to a two-year, $8 million deal.—AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen, in Boston and freelance writer Denis P. Gorman contributed to this report.—


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