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All-Star Notebook: Preds' Laviolette says Housley will figure it out

TAMPA, Fla. -- Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said he has not had a chance to talk with Sabres coach and former Predators assistant Phil Housley much this year because the teams have yet to meet. But Laviolette has been following the struggles of Housley's new team.

"I know he's a great coach and he'll figure it out," Laviolette said. "They've won some games recently here. Every coach goes through it. I've been through it. Every coach in here has and you just have to keep working through it.

"There's definitely a learning curve but I think Phil did an excellent job in Nashville. He was very well prepared. ... It's been a tough start for him but I see him as a coach who can last and get it going in Buffalo."

The Sabres and Predators meet March 19 in Buffalo, and Housley returns to Nashville's Bridgestone Arena for the first time since last spring's Stanley Cup final on March 31.

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In his annual All-Star media briefing, commissioner Gary Bettman indicated the league's Hockey Operations department met Saturday with a cross section of referees, coaches and general managers in town to discuss the burgeoning controversy surrounding goaltender interference reviews. And it sounds like things are going to be dialed back.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were stymied by reviews they didn't agree with in back-to-back games this week and the Edmonton Oilers had an overtime-winning goal Thursday against Calgary wiped out. Young stars Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid were both critical of the calls on the ice and after the game, bringing a bigger spotlight on the issue.

"Overall the system works but I think we've gotten to the point where everybody is overthinking the review," Bettman said. "The intention is ... 'Did you miss something?' It's not, 'Can you search for something that might overturn the call?' "

Bettman said the meeting was held as a "refresher" for all involved that the call on the ice should stand unless incontrovertible evidence to the contrary is found in the review.

"I think everyone just wants black and white,” McDavid said Thursday. “I think everyone just wants it to be goaltender interference or not.”

"There’s definitely a bit of grey area there,” Matthews said Saturday. “Night in, night out, some stuff is goalie interference and some stuff isn’t. You kind of compare and it doesn’t make sense sometimes.”

McDavid didn't want to revisit the issue Saturday.

"It's All-Star Weekend and we're here to have fun," he said. "I said my thing about it the other night and I’ll leave it at that."

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The sudden success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights was a big topic Saturday.

Said Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban, whose brother Malcolm is the Knights backup goalie: "A lot of people didn’t think they’d be that good, and I think that actually brought them together a lot quicker. They’re the real deal. It’s a great building. I was shocked at the energy of the building and how real it felt. It felt like hockey has been there a long time.”

Washington's Alex Ovechkin marveled at the atmosphere in T-Mobile Arena, where the Golden Knights are a stunning 18-3-2 en route to their current standing atop the Western Conference.

"It’s not like a regular rink you go to,” Ovechkin said. “It's an unbelievable show. You get excited. It’s like going to a nightclub. Like a party. Everybody’s dancing over there. Are we having a hockey game or is this like a pool party? They're very, very tough to play against. They have tremendous skill, tremendous speed and they use it."

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Bettman announced next year's All-Star Game will be in San Jose on Jan. 26-27, 2019. The city last hosted in 1997.

The commissioner also announced two sets of overseas games next year. Edmonton and New Jersey will play their season opener in Sweden after the Oilers play a preseason game in Germany and the Devils do likewise in Switzerland. Meanwhile, a two-game series between Florida and Winnipeg in Finland will be held in November, much like the one Ottawa and Colorado played two months ago in Stockholm, Sweden. The exact cities have yet to be announced.

The league will also play a two-game preseason series in China for the second straight year. The league is not confirming the teams but multiple reports say they are Boston and Calgary.

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