Today is Tuesday, October 17, 2017.
|Tuesday, October 17, 2017|
|National Hockey League|
Focus on Forsberg as Predators, Avalanche collide
Tuesday, October 17 at 12:29 AM (EDT)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Filip Forsberg usually waits until February to get as hot as he is right now.
The Nashville Predators forward, who needed 32 games to score his fifth goal last season, required only five games to pull it off this season. Forsberg netted his fifth in the second period Saturday night during a 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago.
It stands to reason that Forsberg will be a guy the Colorado Avalanche have to focus on when they play their Central Division rivals Tuesday night in Bridgestone Arena.
Forsberg finished with 30 or more goals in each of the past two seasons despite slow starts. It is easy to wonder what mark he could reach if he marries this quick start with his normally fast finish.
And Forsberg is skating against his favorite mark to start the week. In 16 career games against Colorado, Forsberg has 10 goals and eight assists with three game-winners and a plus-16 rating. He burned the Avalanche for a hat trick on Feb. 24 in the teams' most recent meeting, a 4-2 Nashville win.
"It's always good to help the team win games," he said after notching a goal and an assist Thursday night in the Predators' 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. "If I score goals and we don't win games, it doesn't really matter."
Last season, when Forsberg was struggling to light the lamp, coach Peter Laviolette praised his performance, feeling Forsberg was still creating plenty of good chances. However, the coach who has taken three teams to Stanley Cup Finals isn't denying that this version of Forsberg is more helpful than the one who was just missing the net.
"Him getting off the mark is big for our team," Laviolette said. "We look for everyone to contribute, but we really look for the goal-scorers to deliver that."
The Predators (2-2-1) came from ahead in Chicago, giving up the equalizer late in the third period and then falling for the 21st time in their past 27 overtime games. It was a tough ending to a game in which they outshot the Blackhawks 38-33.
Colorado (4-2-0) is off to a good start under second-year coach Jared Bednar, despite a 3-1 loss Saturday night in Dallas. The Avalanche are getting good work from veteran goalie Semyon Varlamov, who has a .944 save percentage in his first four games.
Center Matt Duchene, who has been part of numerous trade rumors involving Nashville over the last year-plus, and former Montreal prospect Sven Andrighetto each have six points in six games.
While six games is a small sample size, it is encouraging considering last season's results, when the Avalanche finished with a minus-90 goal differential and the NHL's worst record.
"It's a good learning lesson for this group," Bednar said after the loss in Dallas. "It is the first time we've realized that we didn't leave it all on the line for 60 minutes, and that's something we have to do every night."
Colorado center Tyson Jost (knee) should return Tuesday night after missing the past two games.
Nashville captain Roman Josi (lower-body injury) might be back after sitting out the past three games.
Banged-up Jets look to slow Blue Jackets
Monday, October 16 at 9:42 PM (EDT)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- If the Winnipeg Jets are going to extend their three-game winning streak when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, they will need a little help from both the farm and the press box.
The Jets (3-2-0) placed winger Mathieu Perreault on injured reserve on Monday with a lower-body ailment after he blocked a shot Saturday in the team's 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. He is expected to be out at least four weeks.
Hot-shot prospect Kyle Connor was called up from the AHL Manitoba Moose, and he skated on a line with center Bryan Little and right winger Patrik Laine at practice Monday.
Winnipeg defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is also expected to miss at least two weeks after taking a heavy hit on Saturday. Rookie Tucker Poolman, who has played two games this season, will come down from the press box to fill the void.
Connor, the Jets' first-round draft pick in 2015, said he was looking forward to building on the 20 games he played with the big club last year. He scored two goals and three assists in a limited role.
"It's a great opportunity every time you step on the ice," he told a media scrum after practice on Monday. "Every shift, you have to go out there and prove yourself and play the best you can. It's always exciting (getting back into the lineup) and, for me, just trying to play the same game I've been playing since the start of the year."
Not all the news from the Jets' sick bay was bad, though. Center Adam Lowry, who missed the Saturday game with an upper-body injury, and winger Matt Hendricks, who has missed the first five games after being injured in the preseason, are possibilities for the Friday home contest against the Minnesota Wild.
Jets coach Paul Maurice has opted to give Connor Hellebuyck, who has backstopped the Jets to all three of their victories this season, the night off Tuesday with Steve Mason replacing him between the pipes.
Mason was lit up in his first two games of the season. After signing a two-year, $8.2 million contract in the offseason and being immediately anointed the starter, his early struggles have made him a candidate to be the most expensive backup goalie in the league.
The Blue Jackets come to town having won four of their first five games, but it is how they are winning those games -- having to come back from a pair of two-goal deficits on Saturday to defeat the Wild 5-4 in overtime, for example -- that is drawing the ire of coach John Tortorella.
"You don't want to draw it up this way, but it's all good," he said.
He described his team's power play in the win as "too cute" with too many passes and not enough shooting. He moved players around on both forward lines and defensive pairings, making it clear he wasn't happy with the process.
"They hung in there together, they didn't panic and they grinded out a win. I'm pleased about that," he said.
Stars seek to even record, keep Coyotes winless
Tuesday, October 17 at 12:44 AM (EDT)
DALLAS -- On Saturday night, the Dallas Stars bounced back from a 4-1 loss at Nashville two days earlier to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 at American Airlines Center.
Next up for Dallas (2-3-0) is a Tuesday visit from the Arizona Coyotes (0-4-1), who lost 6-2 at home to the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
Even though the Coyotes are the lone winless team in the NHL, Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock knows Arizona still has the talent to rise up and notch its first win on any given night. The Coyotes have three ex-Stars on their blue line, Kevin Connauton, Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski.
"Today was my first look at them," Hitchcock said after practice on Monday. "They got a lot of speed, a lot of skill, a lot of transition defensemen. We got to make sure they don't get loose on us because if they do, they can really go. ...
"Our job is to make sure they (the Coyotes) don't get going in transition."
Arizona might be winless, but Hitchcock has immense respect for Coyotes first-year coach Rick Tocchet. In the early 1990s, Hitchcock was as an assistant coach in Philadelphia when Tocchet played for the Flyers. That was several years before Hitchcock earned his first head-coaching job with Dallas in January 1996.
"He's done a great job. He's stayed with it as a coach," Hitchcock said of Tocchet. "I'm really happy for him that he's got a head (coaching) job. He's had a lot of high-maintenance players there (when he was an assistant in Pittsburgh), and he's done a great job with them."
One area which Hitchcock, who was hired in April after Dallas missed the playoffs last season under Lindy Ruff, takes great pride in is how strong the Stars have been thus far on special teams.
The Stars have scored a power-play goal in each of their first five games for the first time since 1990-91, when the franchise was the Minnesota North Stars. Dallas' power play has converted 27.8 percent of its opportunities thus far, sixth best in the NHL.
And the penalty kill, a huge Stars weakness last season, has also done its part, killing 85.7 percent of opposing power plays, ninth best in the league.
"That's probably the element of our game that's improved the most, our special teams," Hitchcock said. "Both special teams have really got continuity going right now."
Something else taking hold in Dallas is the culture change from how things were the past few seasons under Ruff to how Hitchcock, who previously led the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup, wants them to be.
And for Dallas' top-line center Tyler Seguin, who had a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) against Colorado on Saturday with one of his rare fights, that culture change involves everyone on the roster.
"It's going out of your comfort zone. It's fighting (when you don't normally fight). It's blocking shots for guys who don't normally block shots," Seguin said. "When you look at successful teams, they have guys who go out of their comfort zone every game, every day. It's still very early in the year, but you want to see things early on to send a message for how the rest of the year should be."
The Coyotes, who will turn around and host Dallas on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz., practiced Monday morning at home before catching a plane to Texas.
With Antti Raanta, who is still sidelined with a lower-body injury, not practicing, the Coyotes recalled goaltender Adin Hill from AHL Tucson on Monday morning.
Hill likely will back up Louis Domingue, who has become the de-facto starting goaltender for the Coyotes while Raanta recuperates.
Tocchet said after practice that anything is possible for Tuesday night.
"(Hill) could play," Tocchet told the Coyotes' official website. "He's not here just to practice."
Should Hill receive the nod in net on Tuesday, it would be his NHL debut.
Tocchet shuffled his lines a bit at practice on Monday, dropping Clayton Keller down to the second line and moving Tobias Rieder up to skate alongside Max Domi and Derek Stepan.
The Coyotes, who are off to their worst start through five games in franchise history, also will have Connauton available to return to the blue line after he was cleared. He had been slowed by a lower-body injury.
However, facing a suddenly resurgent Dallas team is a challenge the new Coyotes coach welcomes.
"I'm excited," Tocchet said. "We're going into a tough building, and Dallas is a really good team. It's exciting for me to see how they respond and where we're going to be."
Oilers hope Malone will haunt Hurricanes
Tuesday, October 17 at 12:56 AM (EDT)
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers are on a three-game losing streak, and recent games against the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators weren't close.
With the Hurricanes (1-1-1) coming to town Tuesday night, the Oilers will look to a former Carolina player to give them a spark.
Veteran center Brad Malone practiced with the Oilers (1-3-0) on Monday after being called up from the team's AHL affiliate in Bakersfield, Calif. Malone has played 176 career NHL games and was with the Hurricanes last season, so there is a good chance that his Oilers debut could come against his former team.
"I have a lot of good friends over there," Malone said. "But, at the same time, I'm here (in Edmonton) now, and I'm not going to be holding anything back."
Malone was at Edmonton's training camp and scored twice in five preseason games.
He is needed because the Oilers' infirmary list is growing. Coach Todd McLellan confirmed Monday that center Leon Draisaitl would miss his second straight game with an eye injury and concussion-like symptoms. Draisaitl finished eighth in NHL scoring last season with 77 points.
Both Draisaitl and left winger Drake Caggiula, who has missed the Oilers last two games, were placed on injured reserve. Caggiula is out with an undisclosed ailment.
Malone said fans can expect a "blue-collar" game from him.
"In terms of what I am going to do, I am just going to be myself," Malone said. "Try to be physical, bring some energy ... try to create some momentum and get the little details correct."
McLellan said, "For me, he's a pretty responsible defensive guy, and he was one of our bottom-six players that produced offensively during training camp. He had two ... goals and a few helpers playing in that role. He has the ability to penalty-kill, all areas that we're looking to improve on."
The Oilers will also need better work from their defensemen and goaltending to break the skid. They have given up 14 goals over the three-game skid, and starting netminder Cam Talbot was pulled in two of them.
The Hurricanes have four points through three games, but they scored only twice in their most recent two games -- a 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets and a 2-1 regulation loss to the Jets.
"I think we just need to be more hungry. We have opportunities," Jeff Skinner, who leads the Hurricanes with two goals, told NHL.com. "More hunger, more desperation. It's disappointing when that's the reason because that's in your control. We need more hunger and more desperation, for sure."
Carolina coach Bill Peters told the league's website, "We've got to get to the net. There's too many times where (the goalie is) seeing it. If you're shooting from distance with no traffic, they're going to make the save and there's nobody there for seconds and thirds. That's what that is."
Peters grew up in the town of Killam, less than a two-hour drive from Edmonton.
Right winger Josh Jooris, who had 10 points in 42 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season, could make his Hurricanes debut Tuesday. Peters indicated that defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who missed the past two games with a concussion, might be healthy enough to skate against the Oilers.
|Sabres||vs.||Golden Knights||10:00 (EDT) Preview|
Sabres seek to slow surprising Knights
Tuesday, October 17 at 1:37 AM (EDT)
LAS VEGAS -- The early-season fate of the Buffalo Sabres and the Golden Knights should be reversed, but Vegas is proving it is not a customary expansion team that will take its licks.
The Sabres, in their 47th year as an NHL organization, arrive in Las Vegas for a Tuesday game coming off their first win of the season at Anaheim on Sunday. Also on Sunday, the Golden Knights won for the fourth time in their first five games.
Thanks to a 3-1 win over the Ducks, the Sabres' first triumph under new coach Phil Housley, Buffalo is 1-4-1. Benoit Pouliot scored the decisive goal late in the second period, and goaltender Chad Johnson made 25 saves.
"I think everyone was happy," Johnson said, commenting about his coach's first win. "I think after the fact you realize that it was Phil's first, but I think everybody was eager to get it for everybody."
What better place to celebrate Housley's first win than Las Vegas? Buffalo cannot take that approach with Vegas (4-1-0) waiting to pull another upset at home.
Vegas spoiled the Boston Bruins' first trip to Sin City on Sunday with a 3-1 victory.
Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov, both recalled from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League over the weekend, scored their first career NHL goals against the Bruins.
Goalie Malcolm Subban, making his first start with the Golden Knights, stopped 21 shots while picking up his first career victory in front of a sellout crowd of 17,562 at the T-Mobile Arena.
Tuch and Shipachyov replaced injured center Jonathan Marchessault and left winger Erik Haula.
Subban played in place of starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who was placed on injured reserve with a concussion. Marchessault was also placed on injured reserve due to a lower-body injury.
Fleury started Vegas' first four games this season, going 3-1-0 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said he is hopeful that Fleury, who has been sidelined multiple times with concussions during his 14-year NHL career -- mostly with the Pittsburgh Penguins -- could be back by Saturday.
Subban, claimed off waivers from the Bruins on Oct. 3, was making just the third start of his NHL career after compiling a 0-2 record and a 5.82 goals-against average with the Bruins.
"They were great call-ups today, obviously," Gallant said of his influx of talent. "They played a good game, and they capitalized on their chances. When you lose players like Marchessault, Haula and Fleury in the last game and you bring these guys in, they're a big part of our group. They played really well for us."
The Sabres have injury concerns of their own. They placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on injured reserve Sunday with a lower-body injury. Bogosian, 27, had been limited in practice since being injured in Buffalo's final preseason game. In 56 games last season, he recorded two goals and nine assists.
In a corresponding move, the Sabres recalled forward Justin Bailey from Rochester of the AHL, and he scored a goal Sunday against Anaheim in his NHL season debut. Bailey, 22, led Rochester with two goals and was tied for the team lead with a plus-2 rating through three games.
Buffalo defenseman Justin Falk (calf injury) and left winger Evan Rodrigues (hand) are also on injured reserve. Right winger Kyle Okposo is day-to-day with the flu.
Johnson and his teammates understand that playing Vegas will not be easy.
"At times like this (with only one win), you want to draw on your experience," said Johnson, who has played in the NHL since 2009 for Buffalo (two different stints), the New York Rangers, the Phoenix Coyotes, Boston, the New York Islanders and the Calgary Flames.
"You ride the wave and just kind of get through it. ... I think we're gaining that maturity, that kind of composure."
Two former Sabres -- winger William Carrier and defenseman Brayden McNabb -- are with the Golden Knights. Both were taken in the expansion draft. Carrier, 22, played in eight games with Buffalo last year. McNabb, 26, is a former third-round pick by Buffalo who was traded in 2014 to the Los Angeles Kings.
"It's been a crazy time," McNabb told the Buffalo News. "The hockey has been a lot of fun, and when the tragedy happened (the mass shooting that occurred on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas), we all knew we wanted to get behind the city.
"Then you get the first three wins (to open the season) and it's huge for our franchise and our fans. It's been exciting to get the season going."
|Canadiens||vs.||Sharks||10:30 (EDT) Preview|
Canadiens might be perfect elixir for struggling Sharks
Tuesday, October 17 at 2:25 AM (EDT)
A long homestand to start the season hasn't gone quite the way the San Jose Sharks would have liked. Based on past history, it might end on a positive note.
The Sharks look to extend their dominance over the Montreal Canadiens when the teams meet on Tuesday night at San Jose in a matchup of two struggling offenses.
Including a sweep of the season series last December, the Sharks have taken eight of their past nine meetings with the Canadiens, including three straight shutouts between October 2013 and March 2015.
At SAP Center, San Jose has won 10 straight over the Canadiens since an overtime loss on March 23, 1999. Nine of the victories have come in regulation, and San Jose has allowed two goals or fewer six times.
This season, the Sharks, Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers are tied for 28th in the league with eight goals -- one more than the Carolina Hurricanes, the only team that has played just three games.
The Habs (1-3-1) could be the perfect opponent to help San Jose (1-3-0) begin its climb up the Pacific Division standings. San Jose failed to build off its first win of the season, dropping a 3-1 decision to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
"We're used to winning, that's the expectation, and we're not winning," San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. "If you see frustration, it's because these guys expect to win every night.
"Throughout the lineup, that was the best game we played of the four. Despite the loss, I feel like we're headed in the right direction."
Kevin Labanc scored his team-leading third goal for the Sharks. The second-year right winger is the only player with more than one marker.
Perhaps most glaring is that San Jose is failing to score for long stretches during its losses. Against New York, the Sharks failed to beat Thomas Greiss over the final 55:44.
The Sharks failed to light up the scoreboard in the final 53:46 against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 7, and for the final 40:19 of the season opener versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
San Jose's Brent Burns, who led all defensemen with 73 goals over the previous three seasons, was held without a point Saturday for the third straight game after registering an assist in the season opener.
"He's getting some good looks." DeBoer said of his top blue-liner. "Sure, he's getting more attention. I don't think it's kept him from getting many good looks. He's had a lot of shots, a lot of shot attempts, a lot of looks. They're just not going in right now, but they will."
Dating back to last season and including the playoffs, Burns has two goals and eight assists in 26 games.
Montreal is trying to avoid its first five-game skid since Jan. 9-19, 2016. Brendan Gallagher shaved his head, according to the Montreal Gazette, in an effort to change the team's fortunes.
"It's still early in the season, but we certainly want to start picking up a few more wins than we've been getting," said Gallagher, who was 6 years old the last time Montreal won at the Shark Tank. "We have the group of guys in here to do it. It's just a matter of going out there and executing.
"If we can all show up and do our jobs individually to help the team, hopefully we'll get the result that we want."
Gallagher needs one assist for 100 in his NHL career. He is one of seven Montreal players with one goal.
Claude Julien's club begins a three-game California road trip after its 14-game winning streak over the Toronto Maple Leafs ended with a 4-3 loss in overtime on Saturday.
"We look at the way we played tonight and we played well enough," Julien said. "The only thing I would say is when things aren't going well, try and minimize the mistakes.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price is 1-3-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage. He has never won in San Jose, posting an 0-4-1 mark with a 3.59 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Backup Al Montoya has yet to start a game this season. He is 2-1-1 with a 1.97 GAA and a .928 save percentage in five career games against the Sharks.
Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has a 1-2-0 record with a 3.92 GAA and an .881 save percentage. He owns a 5-1-0 record with a 2.01 GAA and a .925 save percentage against Montreal.
San Jose backup goalie Aaron Dell stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced Saturday against the Islanders in his first start of the season.
Leafs' offense clicking, Caps' defense struggling
Monday, October 16 at 10:49 PM (EDT)
WASHINGTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs bring their high-powered offense into Washington on Tuesday night to face a Capitals team struggling with its defense.
The Leafs are off to a 4-1-0 start, including a 4-3 overtime win in Montreal on Saturday that snapped a 14-game winless streak against the Canadiens.
Auston Matthews scored twice, including the game-winner. The NHL's reigning second star of the week, Matthews has five goals and three assists so far.
"If he was playing 20 years ago, we'd be saying he's Mario Lemieux-like," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's 6-foot-(3). He skates great. He's got unbelievable hands. And a hockey I.Q.
"He's strong on the puck, and you throw in (Mitchell) Marner and all the young guys they have. They're just really deep."
Toronto left winger James van Riemsdyk has goals in three consecutive games, and five Leafs are averaging at least a point per game. However, the Leafs are surrendering 3.8 goals per game.
"We're not playing near as good as the end of last year, not even close," coach Mike Babcock told the Toronto Star. "But in saying that, we're probably playing better than we were at this time last year. We have more talent, but we can still play better than we've been playing."
Toronto's 2016-17 season ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Capitals. However, the Maple Leafs produced a strong showing against the Presidents' Trophy winners, taking a 2-1 series lead before dropping three straight games by one goal, the last two in overtime.
"I think with us, having the success we did against such a strong team, it was something that over the summer we were able to build off of and say, 'If each and every guy was two plays better per game, what would the ice look like? How much could we tilt it in our favor the next time around?'" Toronto's Connor Carrick told the team's website.
Washington (3-2-1) has lost three of four, and the ice was tilted against the Capitals on Saturday as they dropped an 8-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers, allowing 37 shots on Philipp Grubauer.
The game came one night after Washington lost top-two defenseman Matt Niskanen to a hand injury until at least November. This on a defensive unit that saw the departures of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk in the offseason.
With a younger, less experienced defensive corps, the Capitals are allowing nearly seven more shots per game than last season.
"We're not as structured defensively," Trotz said. "We haven't put as big an emphasis this year as we did last year. We've put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. But right now, we have to get a little more balance."
Washington's Braden Holtby, who likely will be back in net Tuesday, is 6-2-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average versus Toronto in the regular season. Toronto's Frederik Andersen is 2-0-1 with a 2.67 GAA against the Capitals.
Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with nine goals and has thrived against Toronto, totaling 33 goals and 27 assists in 42 games. Nicklas Backstrom, the NHL's third star of the week after scoring nine points (three goals, six assists) in four games, has 26 assists in 33 games vs. the Maple Leafs.
Washington center Lars Eller (illness) missed practice Monday.
Flyers look to continue solid start vs. Panthers
Monday, October 16 at 11:15 PM (EDT)
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers have a long way to go before proving they are a playoff team in the top-heavy Metropolitan Division, but their 8-2 beat-down of the Washington Capitals on Saturday night was a reminder they are capable of beating one of the best teams in the NHL.
"I think guys were just tired of not making the playoffs," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "Guys did a good job this summer getting themselves in good shape."
The Flyers (3-2-0) outskated their opponents through the first five games of the season. That speed will be tested Tuesday night when the free-wheeling Florida Panthers (2-2-0) come to town.
The Flyers are tied for fifth in the NHL with 21 goals, and their top line of center Sean Couturier, right winger Jakub Voracek and Giroux have combined for six goals and 16 assists.
"We're three guys that like to make passes, make plays, but when we have a chance to shoot, we need to shoot and go to the net," said Couturier, who is flourishing in his role as a top-line center after years of being used in a checking role.
While the Flyers are coming off their biggest win of the season in their home opener, the Panthers will look to bounce back from a 4-3 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. Left winger Jonathan Huberdeau (three goals, two assists) picked up a pair of goals in the defeat. He and center Vincent Trocheck (two goals, two assists) are the only Panthers who have points in all four games.
Rookie right winger Owen Tippett, who was taken 10th overall by the Panthers in the 2017 draft, is expected to make his NHL debut against Philadelphia on the third line with center Jared McCann and right winger Jamie McGinn. Tippett, 18, racked up 44 goals and 75 points in 60 games with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL last season.
Panthers first-year coach Bob Boughner also shuffled his top two lines, removing right winger Evgenii Dadonov from the top unit. Right winger Radim Vrbata took Dadonov's place on a line with center Aleksander Barkov and Huberdeau, while Dadonov skated with center Nick Bjugstad and Trocheck.
Barkov, Huberdeau and Dadonov were a combined minus-11 in Florida's first four games.
"It doesn't matter what line we're playing on," Boughner said following practice Monday. "We need four lines to win."
Roberto Luongo (1-1-0) is expected to return to the net for Florida. The 38-year-old veteran is one win away from passing Curtis Joseph (454 wins) and moving into fourth place on the NHL's all-time victories list, behind only Martin Brodeur (691), Patrick Roy (551) and Ed Belfour (484).
"It's nice to be mentioned in the same sentence with guys like that, and I'll probably look back on it at some point," Luongo said. "But right now, I'm just trying to win games for this hockey team."
With two days off between games, the Flyers are expected to start Brian Elliott (3-1-0) at goalie.
Rangers aim for turnaround against Penguins
Monday, October 16 at 11:24 PM (EDT)
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers are sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference at 1-5-0, their worst start since 1980. They are desperate for a victory, and the good news is their next game is on home ice Tuesday night.
The bad news is their opponent is the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won three of four and have owned the Rangers in recent years. The Penguins captured 10 of their past 14 meetings with New York, including a five-game win in the first round of the 2016 playoffs.
"I've never had a start like this in my career, so it's tough mentally for sure," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said to the New York Daily News. "By no means is this group going to quit, I know that for a fact. And I know that we will keep working here and trust our system and we'll start playing the way we need to with a little more edge, a little bit more desperation.
"Hopefully this is rock bottom here early on and a real gut-check time, and understanding what's expected of us individually and as a group."
The Penguins (3-2-1) dropped their first two games before turning it around, but coach Mike Sullivan sees room for improvement in an area where the team excelled last season -- getting pucks on net.
After finishing first in that category last season, the Penguins are just 10th in the early going.
"We pass up opportunities to put the puck on the net when we're in pretty good areas because we're looking for that next play, and sometimes, or a lot of times, that next play never materializes," Sullivan said.
The problem is asking players such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel to abandon their creative natures to shoot more.
"They're always looking to make that play to try and set up a goal, and that's part of what makes them elite," Sullivan said. "There's always that delicate balance, and as a coaching staff, we don't want to get in the way of their instincts. We certainly don't want to force them to shoot all the time, because that's what separates our guys from others."
Malkin and Kessel, who have been on a line together this season, have combined for just two goals in six games, and just one goal at even strength. Malkin believes that Sullivan has a point about being a little less fancy and a little more direct.
"We try to play beautiful every time," Malkin said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's not working. We need to change our game and play a little bit straight-line to the net.
"Me and Phil, we look to each other too much. When he plays with (the) puck, he stops in the offensive zone and looks to me. Same with me. Sometimes, we need to just go to net. Simple play, rebound, wait for (the) puck around the net and go to the net more."
The Rangers simply want to put together a solid 60-minute effort. In their 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night, the Rangers dominated the first period only to fade over the final 40 minutes. A performance like that against the Penguins likely would result in a bad start getting even worse.
"The problem right now is we can't put a full 60 minutes together," Rangers forward Rick Nash said to the New York Post. "It's surprising we couldn't keep it going.
"It's easy to point fingers right now and get on top of each other, but good teams get through things like this and come out even better."
Canucks open road swing against Senators
Tuesday, October 17 at 12:08 AM (EDT)
OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks are going in opposite directions as they bump into each other Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
In more ways than one.
The only team in the Eastern Conference yet to lose in regulation time, the Senators (3-0-2) are riding a three-game winning streak -- a run that started with an Oct. 10 shootout decision over the Canucks -- when they kick off a stretch of five in a row at home.
The Canucks (1-2-1) have lost three straight and will be playing the opener of a five-game road trip when they attempt to exact some revenge on the Senators.
That task promises to be even more difficult with confirmation that Senators two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson will be making his 2017-18 debut after missing the first five games while recovering from offseason foot surgery.
"I think he's the best player in the world," Senators coach Guy Boucher said Monday. "Basically, he has an impact on everything ... your breakouts, your transition, your own zone, your power play, your offensive play.
"He is who he is. He's such a presence. He's not just a hockey player. It's everything around him, too."
Karlsson is excited to get back in the lineup.
"I had the appropriate amount of time to get ready to play again," he said. "I'm going to be a little bit rusty, probably, but it's better to get back into things as early as possible. Hopefully, it will get better as we go along."
Remarkably, the Senators were not only able to survive but also thrive in Karlsson's absence. After losing their first two games of the season in shootouts, they swept a three-game western Canada road trip for the first time in franchise history. They followed up the 3-2 victory in Vancouver with 6-0 and 6-1 wins against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, respectively.
A large part of the Senators' success can be attributed to special teams play. After going 0-for-16 on the power play in their first three games, they scored a total of five goals with a man-advantage in Calgary and Edmonton. Ottawa is also 15-for-15 this season on the penalty kill.
While the Senators are now at full strength, health-wise, Canucks defenseman Alex Edler and winger Loui Eriksson sustained knee injuries during the first four home games.
Their power play is hurting, too, having scored just two goals on 23 chances.
In a 5-2 loss to the Flames on Saturday, the Canucks were outscored 1-0 during their five first-period power plays, which included a five-on-three advantage for 71 seconds.
"We were too slow and they were able to block shots," Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin told the Vancouver Sun. "We've got to be better, and a lot of things need to happen. That short-handed goal can't happen. You're not going to win a lot of games if that happens."
The Canucks have done a decent job short-handed, with a penalty-killing unit that has operated at an 87.5 percent efficiency, tied for sixth best in the league.
Lightning aim for fifth straight win as they face Devils
Tuesday, October 17 at 12:21 AM (EDT)
NEWARK, N.J. -- Last season, neither the Tampa Bay Lightning nor the New Jersey Devils reached the Stanley Cup playoffs.
However, two weeks into the 2017-18 season, both teams sit in first place in their divisions as they face off against one another Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
For the Lightning (5-1-0), it is a quick trip back atop the standings, while for the Devils (4-1-0), this is rarified air for a club that finished last in the Eastern Conference a year ago and failed to reach the playoffs the past five years.
A 3-2 road win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday extended the Lightning's winning streak to four games as they became the first team in the league to reach 10 points.
Though it is early in the season, the Lightning better resemble the team that reached the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals and 2016 Eastern Conference finals than the injury-ravaged squad that failed to take part in the 2017 postseason.
"We're just playing with a lot more urgency and a lot more responsibility, and that's why we've strung together some wins here," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said recently.
Superstar center Steven Stamkos, who was limited to 17 games because of a knee injury last year, is his old self, recording at least one point in all six games. He earned two assists on Monday and already has eight helpers and nine points to start the season.
Nikita Kucherov, a 40-goal scorer in Stamkos' absence in 2016-17, is also off to a blazing start. He scored twice against the Red Wings to become only the fourth player in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of the first six games of the season, joining a short list that includes Mario Lemieux, Keith Tkachuk and his team's current general manager, Steve Yzerman.
"It's just easy when you're out there with him," Stamkos said to nhl.com about Kucherov, who is second in the NHL with seven goals. "He's one of the best players in the league."
The Devils may not have the star power of the Lightning, but they did win their first three games this season, scoring 16 goals in the victories. After losing to the Washington Capitals 5-2 at home on Friday, the Devils rebounded the next night with a 3-2 road win over the New York Rangers.
Perhaps showing how much he expects from his team, coach John Hynes benched three of his key forwards for much of the Saturday victory. Pavel Zacha did not play the final 35 minutes and logged only 5:35 worth of ice time against the Rangers, while Jimmy Hayes played 6:56 and Marcus Johansson saw the least ice time of any player in the Devils' lineup (4:48).
Zacha and Johansson practiced with regular lines on Monday and will be in the lineup Tuesday. Hayes, however, split time on the third line with Stefan Noesen during practice. He could be a healthy scratch against the Lightning.
Hynes met with all three players on Monday to discuss precisely what his expectations are.
"It's always a difficult decision when you make a decision to sit a player or scratch a player," Hynes said. "You have to do what you think is right in certain situations. We had some really positive one-on-one meetings with all three of those players this morning. We discussed why and what needs to be better."
Despite his hardline stance with the three forwards, Hynes is pleased with the Devils' start to the season. New Jersey is tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division. After scoring the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference two years running, the Devils have 21 goals already, tied for third most in the East.
Rookie Jesper Bratt leads the team with three goals, while defenseman Will Butcher, another first-year player, tops the Devils with eight points -- all of them assists, with five coming on the power play.
"He's got a lot of skill, he moves the puck well, and he's so smart out there," Devils alternate captain Taylor Hall said of Butcher. "He's brought a lot to our power play and our five-on-five. We need that on our back end."
Cory Schneider will start in goal for the Devils on Tuesday. The Lightning did not name a starting goalie as of late Monday. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the win at Detroit, stopping 29 of 31 shots.
|Monday, October 16, 2017|
|National Hockey League|
|Lightning||3||vs.||2||Red Wings||Final Recap|
Streaking Kucherov lifts Lightning past Wings
Monday, October 16 at 11:58 PM (EDT)
DETROIT -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have found another place where they can beat the Detroit Red Wings, and Nikita Kucherov has discovered another rink where he can score.
The Lightning became the first visiting team to win at Detroit's new Little Caesars Arena, taking a 3-2 decision on Monday.
Kucherov scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period, giving him goals in all six games this season, the first NHL player to do that since Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues in 2008-09. The Tampa Bay winger has seven goals in all.
Kucherov slammed the rebound of a Steven Stamkos shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard 1:47 into the third to snap a 2-2 tie.
"Not too many guys can shoot it with that accuracy and that velocity from that position," Stamkos said.
Earlier, Kucherov whipped a shot by Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and past a screened Howard (23 saves) on a Tampa Bay power play at 10:56 of the first period.
"I'm not thinking about the streak, I am just thinking about getting wins," Kucherov said.
It was the eighth straight regular-season win by the Lightning (5-1-0) over the Red Wings (4-2-0).
Tampa Bay opened the scoring 9:15 into the game while killing a penalty. Lightning forward Tyler Johnson pounced on a turnover, burst past Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley into the clear and slid the puck between Howard's pads.
"They scored two on specialty teams, we scored zero," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "That's the difference. I thought our power play had looks but we didn't score and we gave up a shorty. That's a hard combination.
"It's hard to win when you give up shorties and you don't rebound and score."
The Red Wings were just the latest NHL team to discover how hard it is to contain Kucherov.
"He's one of the best players in the league, no question," Blashill said. "He gets them out on the ice in a lot of different situations and he's got lots of poise, a great stick and an excellent mind."
The Wings rallied in the second period, getting their first goal via an odd set of circumstances.
Darren Helm thought he got the Wings on the board 2:30 into the period when he drove a hard shot past a fallen Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (29 saves). However, after video review, it was determined that Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader committed goalie interference just prior to Helm's shot.
In a bizarre twist, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was also called for hooking while Abdelkader was breaking in alone on Vasilevskiy, and since Helm's goal was disallowed, Abdelkader was awarded a penalty shot. Abdelkader cut to his left and put a low shot through the legs of Vasilevskiy for his second goal of the season.
"I didn't really think too much about it," Abdelkader said. "A lot of times I'm nervous for those but actually I was excited, I was ready.
"I had some time to prepare and think about it on the bench while they were sorting out the call. Those are always fun if you can convert."
Detroit defenseman Mike Green, who came into the game leading the team in scoring with eight points -- all assists -- tallied his first goal of the season 16:02 into the second period. Following his shot to the net, Green jammed the rebound past Vasilevskiy.
Overall, Blashill felt his team did everything right save for winning the special teams battle.
"I thought we did an excellent job of gapping, of ending plays early," Blashill said. "We didn't give them much ice at all and then we transitioned fast out of it. I thought we did a good job in the O-zone.
"I can't think of a whole bunch of time where we were really hemmed in our zone. I can't think of a whole bunch of big-time chances that we gave up."
NOTES: Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of six NHL goalies who have started every game this season for their teams. ... F Tyler Johnson's first-period goal tied him with Ryan Malone (92) for the 10th spot on the Lightning's all-time goals list. ... Lightning F Nikita Kucherov's streak of six consecutive games with a goal is a career high. ... Kucherov's first-period power-play goal tied him with Freddy Modin (32) for ninth on the franchise's career list. ... Lightning F Vladislav Namestnikov is the nephew of Slava Kozlov, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings. ... Detroit D Danny DeKeyser (lower-body injury) sat out his third straight game. ... Dean Morton, one of two NHL referees assigned to the game, played one game for the Red Wings in 1989-90. ... Detroit D Trevor Daley played his 900th NHL game.
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