With all the Game of the Week coverage, I didn’t want to neglect the other games too much. After all, I’d hate to see these games rebel against their latch key upbringing, make horrible life decisions just to get attention and then ultimately grow to resent me. Or, uh, something like that.
Anyway, let’s recap Sunday’s afternoon games.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Boston Bruins 1
The enduring image of this game has to be a concussed Marc Savard being taken off the ice on a stretcher. Surely this will be fresh on more than a few general managers’ minds as they converge for their annual meeting this week. Evgeni Malkin scored the game winner for Pittsburgh in this low scoring bout.
Carolina Hurricanes 4, Atlanta Thrashers 0
It only makes sense that Carolina’s inexplicably hot run (8-1 in their last nine games) would continue with a shutout by an inexplicable goalie. Manny Legace’s career was practically drawing vultures this summer – and he might not be out of the involuntary retirement woods for long – but at least for now, he must be riding high. It’s too early to wonder if Carolina can make the playoffs, but I guess this is their time of year …
Calgary Flames 5, Minnesota Wild 2
Speaking of goalies left for dead, Vesa Toskala recorded a victory in his first game with Calgary. In less startling news, Jarome Iginla broke out of a funk by scoring a hat trick – his third career hat trick against the Wild. Hey, Jarome, I agree that their verb-turned-noun name is an affront to the English language but … take it easy. Jeez.
Vancouver Canucks 4, Nashville Predators 2
It was a mixed game for two certified man crushes of mine; Ryan Kesler continued his career high 9-game point scoring streak (good) while Shea Weber missed the game due to an arm/hand injury (not so good). Trailing 2-1 going into the third period, Vancouver scored three unanswered goals to take this one.
John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.
Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).
Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.
A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.
Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.
Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.
Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”
McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.
It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.
Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.
Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.
The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.
Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.
Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.
London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.
“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.
“He does everything for us.”
Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.
Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.
Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.
Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.
“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.
“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”