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Marleau leads Sharks past Avalanche 4-0

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Marleau leads Sharks past Avalanche 4-0

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Patrick Marleau became the second player in NHL history to open a season with four straight multigoal games, striking twice on the power play in the first period in the San Jose Sharks' 4-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Marleau has scored exactly two goals in each game this season, joining Ottawa's Cy Denneny in 1917-18 as the only players to open a campaign with four multigoal games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Both of Marleau's goals came after Ryan O'Byrne took two additional minor penalties for retaliating after San Jose's Brad Stuart flattened Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog with a vicious hit.

Joe Thornton added a power-play goal in the second period, giving San Jose 10 power-play goals in four games and a franchise record 19 overall.

Thomas Greiss made 24 saves for his first career shutout and Matt Irwin got his first career goal as the Sharks are off to their best start since also winning the first four games in 2008-09.

The Avalanche lost their seventh straight game in San Jose since winning Game 1 of their first-round playoff series in 2010. After killing off 16 straight penalties coming into this game, Colorado allowed goals on San Jose's first three power plays and another just 11 seconds after killing the Sharks' fourth man advantage.

San Jose's power play is in midseason form in this lockout-shortened season, with 10 goals in 24 chances. Marleau has four of those goals as he is off to a scintillating start. He is the first Sharks player ever with four straight multigoal games and has outscored the Sharks' opponents, who have seven goals in four games.

He has Thornton to thank as the Sharks captain has nine assists and two goals already this season. The third member of San Jose's top line, Joe Pavelski, has eight assists so far.

The Sharks took more than 12 minutes to get their first shot on goal in the game but managed to take a 2-0 lead after the first period because of stellar special teams play and a big hit by Stuart that changed the complexion of the game.

San Jose's troubled penalty-kill unit was up to the task early, allowing no shots on two power plays for Colorado. Then San Jose's dangerous power-play took over late in the period after Stuart's big hit.

O'Byrne took offense and challenged Stuart to a fight. The Sharks came out of the scrum with two power plays after O'Byrne got hit with an instigator penalty and one for fighting with a facemask. Landeskog left the game briefly before returning for the second period.

Marleau and the Sharks made Colorado pay. Just 28 seconds into the first power play, Marleau whacked at a rebound and knocked it past Semyon Varlamov to give San Jose the lead.

He delivered again on the second power play after a nifty passing display from Dan Boyle to Joe Thornton to Marleau, who tapped the puck in by the side of the net for his fourth straight two-goal game.

NOTES: Marleau is the first NHL player with fourth consecutive multigoal games since Alexander Mogilny had five straight in 1992-93 for Buffalo. ... Recently signed Scott Gomez made his Sharks debut on the fourth line in place of James Sheppard and also got time on the second power-play unit. ... O'Byrne got 19 minutes of penalties for his scuffle with Stuart as both players were sent off for fighting and O'Byrne got an additional 10-minute misconduct.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov accepts IIHF suspension while Capitals and NHL lay out the next steps

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Evgeny Kuznetsov accepts IIHF suspension while Capitals and NHL lay out the next steps

After news broke of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s four-year suspension by the IIHF for testing positive for cocaine, the Capitals center released a statement Friday accepting the suspension and expressing his regret for the situation 

Said Kuznetsov:

"Recently, the IIHF notified me that, due to a positive test for a banned substance, I would be suspended from international competition for four years. I have made the decision to accept this penalty. Representing my country has always been so close to my heart and something I take so much pride in. Not being able to put that sweater on for four years is very hard to take. I have disappointed so many people that are important to me, including my family, teammates and friends. From the first day I took the ice in D.C., the Washington Capitals organization and our fans have been nothing but great to me and my family. I feel absolutely terrible for letting you down. I realize that the only way I can win you back is to take ownership of my situation and my actions from this point forward."

The question now is what happens next?

Both the Capitals and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also released statements on Friday saying that Kuznetsov “has voluntarily sought help through the education and counseling program provided for in the NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement and has agreed to a regular testing protocol relating to his involvement with that program.”

In addition, Kuznetsov will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman “to discuss his situation and review his conduct prior to the start of Training Camp preceding the 2019-20 season.”

While the positive test has resulted in a four-year suspension with the IIHF, it is unclear if any such discipline will be levied on Kuznetsov by the NHL.

Said Daly, “Unlike the IIHF, cocaine is not considered a performance-enhancing drug and is therefore not a Prohibited Substance under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.  Instead, it is considered a drug of abuse that is tested for and for which intervention, evaluation and mandatory treatment can occur in appropriate cases.”

Daly left the door open for NHL discipline as he concluded, “We intend to reserve further comment on any additional actions that may or may not be taken with respect to today’s announcement (disciplinary or otherwise) pending the completion of the Commissioner’s meeting with Mr. Kuznetsov.”

The Capitals, meanwhile, expressed support for Kuznetsov saying “we are committed to ensuring he has the necessary support required to work through this situation.”

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Evgeny Kuznetsov receives IIHF suspension after testing positive for cocaine

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Evgeny Kuznetsov receives IIHF suspension after testing positive for cocaine

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been suspended for four years by the IIHF after testing positive for cocaine, the organization announced Friday. The test was found in a sample taken on May 26, 2019, at the World Championship.

The suspension will last through June 12, 2023.

A video posted on Twitter in May showed Kuznetsov in a hotel room next to lines of an unidentified white powder. The Capitals center released a statement afterward saying that he has “never taken illegal drugs in my life and career.” He also claimed the video was from 2018 in Vegas after Washington won the Stanley Cup.

After a review, both the NHL and the Capitals accepted Kuznetsov’s explanation of the situation and considered the matter closed.

A team official told NBC Sports Washington on Friday that the team does intend to make an official comment on the news of Kuznetsov’s suspension.

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