NHL Notes: No suspension for Stars' Nystrom

At one point Alex Ovechkin was playing at 242 pounds. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

At one point Alex Ovechkin was playing at 242 pounds. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:10 PM ET

Stars forward Eric Nystrom won't be fined or suspended for his hard hit on Pittsburgh Penguins star Kris Letang, the Dallas Morning News reported Thursday.

Letang didn't join his Penguins teammates for practice Thursday in Denver, amid fears the defenceman had suffered another concussion.

Letang was crunched Wednesday night in Dallas as he was reaching for a loose puck near the Penguins net. Nystrom opted to play the man and ignore the puck.

"(NHL officials) just said they had looked at it and there were no grounds for a suspension," Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk told the Morning News. "It was just a hockey play, that's how I saw it."

Letang, who missed 21 games earlier this season recovering from a concussion, was listed as day-to-day. He will miss Saturday's game against Colorado, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Pens coach Dan Bylsma said Letang "did have some symptoms today and is going to get re-evaluated back in Pittsburgh," the Post-Gazette reported.

OVECHKIN DOWN FROM 242 POUNDS

Apparently he is in shape now, but at one point Alex Ovechkin was playing at 242 pounds, Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee told ESPN 980.

"He's in terrific shape right now," McPhee said of the 6-foot-2 26-year-old, noting that in the past Ovechkin got by just by being a great athlete, just by showing up and playing.

"And we've talked to him, that doesn't happen in this league. At some point it has to kick in, you have to train, and he's at 224 right now. And he hasn't been at 224 in a few years."

McPhee said Ovechkin, as a 242-pounder, got suspended after throwing his weight around.

"And he was crushing guys, and he loved crushing guys, and we said you know what, Bruce (Boudreau, former Caps coach) always thought he was a better player at about 227 ... And you can see it when he's moving out there, he's flying."

BULLDOG DOING OK

Hamilton Bulldogs defenceman Garrett Stafford will likely miss 2-3 weeks with a head injury.

But that's the good news.

Stafford was taken from the ice at Copps Coliseum on a stretcher after being laid out by Toronto Marlies forward Marcel Mueller midway through the first period Wednesday night. Stafford went into convulsions and laid on the ice for five minutes after the hit.

The 32-year-old was treated at the arena and the team revealed the injury wasn't as serious as it first looked. He will be re-examined in a few days.

It's the second scary incident at Copps for Stafford.

In 2004, while playing for the Cleveland Barons, he took a two-handed slash to the face from Bulldogs forward Alexander Perezhogin and was taken from the ice on a stretcher. The AHL suspended Perezhogin for a year over that incident.

SMITH BEST OF MONTH

Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was named the NHL's first star of the month Thursday.

Smith went 11-0-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage while leading the Coyotes to the top of the Pacific Division.

"I knew Smitty would come in and be a good player for us," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "I just had a feeling that he was ready to take that next step."

Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson and Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos were the league's second and third stars.

Karlsson, the NHL's top-scoring defenceman, had seven goals and 11 assists in February while Stamkos had 11 goals, upping his season total to 44, and 11 assists.

COYLE SIGNS ON

The Minnesota Wild signed first-round draft pick Charlie Coyle to a three-year, entry-level contract Thursday.

Coyle was drafted 28th overall by the San Jose Sharks in 2010 then dealt to the Wild in the trade that saw Devin Setoguchi and Brent Burns change teams.

In 16 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, Coyle has 12 goals and 12 assists. The started the season with Boston University before defecting to the Sea Dogs.

LIGHTNING INKS FORWARD

Forward Cory Conacher signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday.

Conacher has 30 goals and 34 assists in 57 games with Norfolk of the AHL, Tampa's minor-league affiliate. The 5-foot-8 Burlington, Ont., native has playing in 64 AHL games during his career after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Canisius College.

PAYERL SIGNS WITH PENS

Belleville Bulls over-ager Adam Payerl signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday.

The undrafted, free-agent forward has a career-high 20 goals and 24 assists in 57 games with the Bulls this season, his fifth in the OHL. The 20-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., has 58 goals and 82 assists in 302 career regular-season games in the OHL.

HABS ADD DEFENCEMAN

Junior defenceman Morgan Ellis signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens Thursday.

In 54 games with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL, Ellis has 13 goals and 33 assists. He has 25 goals and 92 assists in 231 career games with Cape Breton.

The 6-foot-2 blueliner was a fourth-round draft pick of the Canadiens in 2010.

BRIEFLY

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Niklas Lidstrom likely won't play Friday against the Minnesota Wild. Lidstrom also missed Tuesday's game against Columbus with a foot injury ... Dallas Stars captain Brendan Morrow skated Thursday for the first time since injuries knocked him out of the lineup in ealy February. Morrow has missed 14 games with neck and back problems ... Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson won't play Friday against the Ottawa Senators. Both are out with upper-body injuries.


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