Rink to Rink: Reviewing Friday's games

Let’s look back at Friday night’s games, starting with the marquee match of Pittsburgh vs. New Jersey.

Devils 3, Penguins 1

New Jersey continues to dominate the defending Stanley Cup champions this season. Ilya Kovalchuk was “struggling” with eight points in first 10 games as a Devil, but last night he made his presence felt with one goal, two assists and a failed penalty shot. (Remember: Kovy and Crosby don’t exactly love each other.)

Lightning 3, Capitals 2

Neither Steven Stamkos nor Alex Ovechkin improved their chances in Richard race in this game, allowing Sidney Crosby to regain a temporary lead with his 45th goal. Perhaps Scott Walker should keep getting lost in DC’s metro system out of sheer superstition because he has two goals in three games after only scoring two in the previous 291 of his career games!

Jump for the other four game recaps.


Rangers 5, Thrashers 2

Someone had to win this game of two slumping teams and the Rangers did so handily. Lundqvist and Gaborik both were big in the win for New York. Friday marked the home debut for “new” Thrashers defenseman Chris Chelios who blocked two shots in his second game back.

Wild 3, Sabres 2

In this battle of backups, one of the best (Minnesota’s Josh Harding) beat one of the worst (Buffalo’s Patrick Lalime). While Harding made 43 saves to lead the Wild to a rare road win, Lalime was jeered by Buffalo fans after two early goals. Look, I get that he’s not Ryan Miller, but why shake the confidence of your own goalie?

Kings 2, Stars 1 SO

Jonathan Quick might want to get back to being the Kings’ starter because the other Jonathan (Bernier) had a great win in his first game of the year. One weird thing from this game: one assistant coach from each team was hit by a puck.

Predators 1, Ducks 0

Jonas Hiller had a nice game, but Pekka Rinne was even better for Nashville. Rinne earned his 11th career shutout in only 100 games played.

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    Coyotes GM: Bolland ‘won’t be ready to play for the foreseeable future’ due to injury

    Ottawa Senators v Florida Panthers
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    Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.

    On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.

    The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.

    However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season.

    Last season, Bolland was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions, which could be frustrating for any player or any organization, but he was locked into a massive five-year, $27.5 million contract.

    And that massive contract, or Florida’s desire to move it along, has cost the Panthers a prospect forward.

    Video: Pavel Datsyuk scores first goal since returning to KHL

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    Pavel Datsyuk’s venture into the KHL has been official for a while.

    This latest development might add salt in the wound of Red Wings fans who wish the skilled but aging center was still playing for the Original Six franchise.

    He has now scored his first goal since returning to the KHL. Another former NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk, set it up off the rush. Datsyuk finished off the play with a slick backhander coming down the right wing.

    After it took weeks to decide his future with the Red Wings, Detroit finally unloaded his contract to Arizona at the draft in June.

     

    Poll: Will Jaromir Jagr lead the Panthers in scoring again?

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Florida Panthers signals a teammate during the third period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on March 14, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Florida Panthers day at PHT…

    At age 43 Jaromir Jagr was the oldest player in the NHL last season by more than four years.

    You would have never known it when watching him play.

    He was still a dominant top-line player and on many night was the best player on the team. His 66 points were more than any player in NHL history age 43 or older, and he finished as the team’s leading scorer.

    While he has obviously slowed down from where he was during his peak years in the league when he was one of best players ever, he is still playing at a level that almost no other player in NHL history has been able to match at this age. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him dramatically slowing down in the near future.

    Because of that, the Panthers are bringing him back in 2016-17 for at least one more year.

    So with Jagr back in the mix for another year, will he end up leading the Panthers in scoring once again even though he will be 44 years old? Jagr is one of just three players in NHL history that has ever finished as his team’s leading scorer over the age of 40, a list that includes only him, Gordie Howe and Teemu Selanne. He is the only player that has done it over the age of 43 and the only one that has done it for two different teams (New Jesrey in 2013-14 and Florida in 2015-16).

    The one player that seems to be a significant challenger is Aleksander Barkov. He finished just seven points behind Jagr in 2015-16 (in 12 fewer games) and spent most of the season playing on a line with Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, a trio that was one of the most dominant lines in the league when they were together. But given how Jagr still seems to be in great shape and was still a 60-point player a year ago he is not going to be easy to overtake.

    Report: Rangers close to inking Pirri

    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 01:  Brandon Pirri #11 of the Anaheim Ducks jumps over Ben Hutton #27 of the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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    One of the most intriguing UFAs left on the open market has reportedly found a new home.

    Brandon Pirri, the 25-year-old forward that’s scored 36 goals over the last two seasons, is set to join the Rangers on a one-year, $1.1 million deal, per Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    Taken 59th overall by Chicago in 2009, Pirri’s always been high on offensive ability and shown a consistent knack for finding the back of the net, even with limited opportunities.

    In ’13-14, he scored 13 times despite only appearing in 49 games.

    In ’14-15, he scored 22 times despite only appearing in 49 games.

    (This is not a typo. For some reason he hit that 49 game mark with regularity.)

    Last year, Pirri had 11 goals in 52 contests before the Panthers flipped him to Anaheim. He proceeded to score three goals and five points in nine games as a Duck — missing a good chunk of time with a serious ankle injury — but failed to crack the lineup during an opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.

    In New York, Pirri will be part of a remodeled forward group that includes GM Jeff Gorton’s other pickups this summer: Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Josh Jooris and Nathan Gerbe.

    The group also got a new look via trade, as Gorton flipped Derick Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad.