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|PITTSBURGH — If things had fallen a certain way for the Pittsburgh Penguins Anthony Castonzo Jersey , their regular-season finale Friday night against the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena would provide a chance to relax, give their key players light minutes.
Ottawa (28-41-11) is buried in the standings and long ago lost its shot at the postseason.
As it is, the Penguins (46-29-6) are still jockeying for playoff position despite a 5-4 overtime win Thursday at Columbus. Pittsburgh could face the Blue Jackets, Philadelphia, New Jersey or Washington in the first round.
The Penguins cannot catch Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division, but several players have said recently they would like to secure home-ice advantage for at least the first round.
That is understandable considering Pittsburgh is 29-9-2 at home.
“I think we need to win again to get home ice, but it was a good win for us (in Columbus),” said winger Phil Kessel, whose second goal of the game was the winner in overtime against the Blue Jackets.
A win Friday would lock up second place in the division, securing home ice, although the Penguins’ opponent won’t necessarily be clear. Pittsburgh is the only NHL team that doesn’t play Saturday, the league’s final day of the season Jamon Brown Jersey , so it will only be able to watch things unfold depending on what happens against Ottawa.
It’s expected that Penguins center Derick Brassard will miss his fifth game because of a lower-body injury.
The Senators, who ended a three-game losing streak Wednesday with a 4-2 win at Buffalo, haven’t been concerned about a playoff berth for a long time. In fact, that win helped ensure they won’t finish last overall in the NHL.
At this point, the question for them is where they will end up in the draft lottery, but the focus has been on this final road trip.
“We’re all professional athletes and we all have a lot of pride,” defenseman Mark Borowiecki told the Ottawa Sun. “We’re all wired to compete, and you don’t want to finish last. I take a lot of pride in being an NHL player, and I don’t want to go into the summer saying we’re the worst team in the NHL.”
With a final game Saturday at Boston, Ottawa held its final practice of the season Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.
“We’re going to give our very best in the last two games, knowing full well that those two games are going to be very difficult — not just the fact that they’re on the road, but we’re playing against high-end teams Preston Brown Jersey ,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said.
Boucher said goaltender Craig Anderson will start against Pittsburgh, and winger Bobby Ryan is expected to play after he left Wednesday’s game because of a lower-body issue.
But winger Marion Gaborik had surgery Thursday in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disk, and winger Mark Stone is being shut down after he was not able to recover sufficiently from a high ankle sprain.
It is unclear whether defenseman Erik Karlsson might join the Senators for one or both games. He has played just one game since the March 19 death of his son, and his timetable has been left to him.
The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension with Danielle Hunter, making him one of the top 10 highest-paid defensive ends in the NFL while securing another core player before he could reach free agency.
The deal, which was done on Wednesday, is worth up to $72 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract who spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms weren’t disclosed by the team.
The deal includes $40 million in guaranteed money, with a $15 million signing bonus. The annual average worth is more than $14 million, on par with fellow Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen.
”I had to get this out of the way,” Hunter said, acknowledging relief to have signed before training camp. ”I didn’t want to be bothered by anything.”
Hunter has 25 sacks Antonio Morrison Jersey , three forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles in three seasons, after being drafted in the third round in 2015 out of LSU. Still only 23 years old, Hunter was a top priority to retain at a premium position. Griffen is 30, and primary backup Brian Robison is 35.
”Just looking forward to getting him locked in and what he’s going to continue to bring not only to this defense and this football team, but also the type of character that he brings,” general manager Rick Spielman said.
Over those past three seasons, Hunter and Griffen have combined for 57 sacks, the second most by a pair of teammates in the league behind Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap of the Cincinnati Bengals (5.
The pass rush and run defense provided by these bookends has been a significant part of coach Mike Zimmer’s unit that gave up the fewest points and yards in the NFL last season.
”We build a bond together on defense,” Hunter said. ”We go out there, we know we’re brothers. We fight together. We do our assignments. On and off the field we’re really, really close.
Hunter was third in the NFL with 12 sacks in 2016, the most by a defensive end. Born in Jamaica and raised just outside of Houston Emmanuel Ogbah Jersey , the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Hunter was a classic late bloomer the Vikings targeted with confidence he’d continue to develop with the right coaching to complement his measurable physical skills. Spielman and his scouts have been proven right with that pick.
”I kind of came in with the mindset of just playing football. I had a whole bunch of people in front of me, older guys that were able to show me the way, good coaches and a good coaching staff,” Hunter said. ”The only thing I could do is just come in here and focus and play football.”
The Vikings extended middle linebacker Eric Kendricks earlier this offseason. Outside linebacker Anthony Barr and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are their other two standouts on expiring contracts, with space under the salary cap dwindling. Signing both of them to new long-term deals might not be possible.
They’re plenty happy to at least have Hunter around well into the next decade, though. According to statistics compiled by Vikings coaches, Hunter also has 125 quarterback hurries and 147 total tackles. He has never missed an NFL game to injury, with his only two absences coming in 2015 when he was on the inactive list in the first month of his rookie year.
”It’s all about keep continuing to improve my game. I’ve got to go out there and do what the coaches tell me to do. Now that I have this I can’t relax,” Hunter said. ”I have to keep pounding and grinding.”
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