Pre-season quick recaps – September 24th

Here’s your recap of tonight’s pre-season action. Get the foil on because thizetterberg4.jpgngs got a bit rambunctious tonight, especially in San Jose.

Detroit 3 – Chicago 2

Plus: Detroit’s stars took care of business. Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist while Tomas Holmstrom added a goal and Jimmy Howard played well in a quiet effort over 40 minuts. Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri each had a goal and an assist for Chicago.

Minus: Hawks left wing Brandon Bollig managed to get a -2 rating while playing just 6:54 of the game. The trip back to Rockford will be a stinging one.

Nashville 2 – Carolina 1

Plus: Jordin Tootoo scored the eventual game-winning goal in this game. Tootoo scoring at all is reason enough to be a plus. Patrick O’Sullivan scored for Carolina and impressed onlookers overall with his play. That’s a good sign for Carolina. Canes rookie Jeff Skinner had an assist.

Minus: Mark Dekanich allowed the only goal the Preds gave up in this one. One of his competitors for the backup job in Nashville, Anders Lindback, stopped all 10 shots he faced in 30 minutes of work.

Philadelphia 4 – Toronto 3 (F/SO)

Plus: Nikolai Zherdev had two goals for Philadelphia, a welcome sign for the Flyers. Kris Versteeg had a goal and an assist for the Leafs while Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel also scored. Kessel should’ve had two goals on the night, but…

Minus: On-ice officials wrongly waived off what would’ve been a game-winning goal in overtime by Kessel. Since it’s pre-season there was no instant replay to overturn the call. Hey, it’s preseason for everyone.

comrie-letetsu.jpgPittsburgh 5 – Columbus 4

Plus: Lots of goals from Penguins regulars in this one, including another from Mike Comrie. Tomas Kubalik had a hat trick for Columbus.

Minus: Mathieu Garon stopping 24 out of 29 shots isn’t encouraging. Garon is slated to be Steve Mason’s backup goalie this year. Brent Johnson stopped just 18 out of 21 in 40 minutes of work.

Montreal 4 – Ottawa 2

Plus: Andrei Kostitsyn getting on the board for Montreal is encouraging. Without his brother around, some are worried he’ll struggle. P.K. Subban also scored for the Habs. Mike Fisher had a goal for Ottawa. Montreal fans managed to not boo Scott Gomez for wearing Saku Koivu’s old number 11 or any goalies tonight. Well done, fans.

Minus: Pascal Leclaire went the full 60 minutes and stopped 24 out of 28 shots. Meh.

St. Louis 5 – Minnesota 0

Plus: Ty Conklin was stellar stopping 21 in the shutout while David Perron and Alex Steen had two goals a piece.

Minus: Josh Harding left the game with an apparent knee injury. Minnesota again looked rough in defeat, something fans in St. Paul hope isn’t a sign of things to come.

Dallas 2 – Colorado 1

Plus: Kari Lehtonen looked good in his first action of the pre-season stopping 34 shots in the win. James Neal and Steve Ott had the goals for the Stars.Colorado only gave up 21 shots on goal in this game. Baby steps.

Minus: The Avs managed to turn the shot totals around in this game only to run into a ready-to-play Lehtonen. Them’s the breaks I suppose.

Anaheim 5 – San Jose 4

aaronvoros2.jpgPlus: Corey Perry had a power play hat trick for the Ducks while Ryan Getzlaf added four assists. San Jose threw a Finnish duo at Anaheim in this one. Antti Niemi started while newest favorite name candidate Harri Sateri closed it out. The goals served to be a secondary treat as the teams combined for 144 penalty minutes in a fracas-filled affair.

Minus: Neither Niemi nor Sateri were very inspiring in their efforts for San Jose. Curtis McElhinney and Timo Pielmeier were just as offensive in net for Anaheim. Despite scoring a hat trick, Corey Perry managed to be a -3 in the game. You don’t get a + rating when scoring on the power play.

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    Canada women shooting for 5th straight Olympic hockey gold

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    Four years is a long time to wait for a second chance. For some, the chance for golden redemption has been much longer.

    The United States women’s hockey team has not won Olympic gold since the sport was added to the games in 1998. The Americans have since watched their biggest rival – Canada – take home four straight gold medals.

    The drought has hurt most since 2014, when the Americans blew a 2-0 lead in the gold medal game and had the puck clank off the post, just missing an empty-net goal before Canada tied it with 54.6 seconds left in regulation. Marie-Philip Poulin scored again for a 3-2 overtime win , keeping the gold medal with the country that created the sport.

    ”Not everyone was there in Sochi,” U.S. forward Hilary Knight said. ”We’ve got players who suffered that heartbreak once, maybe twice, and we’ve got players who’ve never felt that. They’re going to play fearless and on their toes regardless. I think all of us are there to win.”

    The Americans have won four straight world championships, the last in overtime last April in Michigan . Yet Canada just doesn’t lose in the Olympics . The world’s dominant hockey powers meet in pool play Feb. 15 in a game scheduled so North America can watch at 10:10 p.m. EST on Feb. 14. If the Pyeongchang Games go as four of the past five Olympics have, they will meet again Feb. 22 with gold at stake once more.

    ”We’ve come up short the last two Olympics, and our ultimate goal is just play our best,” said American Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, a two-time silver medalist. ”If we can do that, we truly believe we can come out on top.”

    Things to know about women’s hockey at the Pyeongchang Games:

    U.S. DROUGHT

    Since winning it all in 1998 in Nagano, settling for silver – and bronze, in 2006 – has been a source of angst for the United States. Katie Crowley was on that inaugural U.S. team and said the drought has been surprising considering the quality of players dressing for the Americans. Crowley, now coach at Boston College, said if she had the answer to what went wrong she’d have three gold medals herself. Now she says it’s up to the current roster.

    ”Hopefully, they can do something about it,” Crowley said.

    PRE-OLYMPIC TUNEUP

    The Americans and Canadians played eight games during the fall. The United States won three of the first four, including two to take their third straight Four Nations Cup title . But Canada and coach Laura Schuler were experimenting with a roster of 28 then. Canada won the final four games, with two decided in overtime and one a shutout.

    ”It’s a good benchmark to see how we’re progressing,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said. ”It’s extremely tough competition, and I suspect they feel the same.”

    Said Schuler: ”Every time we play them, we learn what we’re good at. And we learn where we need to continue to improve.”

    GOALIE EDGE

    The edge in net goes to Canada: goaltender Shannon Szabados is going for her third gold and Genevieve Lacasse won her first in 2014. Lacasse also had the only shutout during the US-Canada exhibition tour .

    ”Shannon brings a calmness to our team, for sure,” Schuler said. ”She’s a big physical presence in the net, and obviously has a great history.”

    The Americans are bringing a trio of goalies making their Olympic debuts in Alex Rigsby, Nicole Hensley and Maddie Rooney. Stauber played goalie himself and was the goaltender coach before being named head coach last May.

    ”We have trust in every single one of them, no matter who’s in net,” said defenseman Kacey Bellamy, a two-time silver medalist.

    NORTH AMERICAN UPSET?

    Canada has won 20 straight Olympic games since losing gold in Nagano. The United States is the top-ranked team in the world – with Canada a close second – while the rest of the world works to close the gap . Finland is No. 3 after beating Canada 4-3 in April in the preliminary round at the 2017 world championships.

    KOREAN COOPERATION

    South Korea coach Sarah Murray may have the biggest challenge with officials working to add North Korean athletes to her team, 22nd in the world. Although the country has had little women’s hockey success, the South Koreans hope to ride home-ice advantage to a victory – any victory – in the preliminary round. South Korea is in Group B with Sweden, Switzerland and Japan. The South Koreans help open pool play Feb. 10 against Switzerland – sixth in the world.

    AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report.

    Follow Teresa M. Walker at http://www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

    More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

    Without NHL players, Olympic tournament is ‘wide open’

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    When Willie Desjardins coached Canada’s 2010 world junior team stacked with future NHL players Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Brayden Schenn, Alex Pietrangelo and goaltenders Jake Allen and Martin Jones, it took a wild final game with John Carlson scoring in overtime to win the gold medal for the United States.

    Just like Canada was the most talented team back then, Russia is likely to have that role at the upcoming Winter Olympics. Desjardins isn’t concerned about that.

    ”In this tournament, anybody can win,” Desjardins said.

    Goodbye, NHL players. Hello, unpredictability.

    No NHL participation for the first time since 1994 threatens to upset the traditional world hockey order after Canada has won the past three best-on-best tournaments: the 2016 World Cup, 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Russia is considered the favorite because it has former NHL players Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Andrei Markov, though Finland could make gold its sixth medal in the past five Games or Sweden could win for the first time since 2006.

    Coach Tony Granato’s American team was put together with players from European professional leagues, the NCAA and American Hockey League.

    ”This Olympics is wide open for a lot of reasons,” Granato said. ”Russia’s got the most talented players in the world. They’re going to have the team that steps on the ice with the most talented players. Does that make them the best team for two weeks? No. We all know that. We all know how sports works. All you’re looking for is an opportunity to make the most and be the best that you can be for that period of time.”

    Because it’s such a short tournament with three pool-play games, a qualifying round and then quarterfinals, it could come down to which team gels first after limited preparation time. Or maybe another goaltender will pull off what Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis almost did when making 55 saves to give Canada a scare in the quarterfinals in Sochi.

    ”The goaltending matters, too, in an event like this,” NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire said. ”It always matters, but I think in this one, the underdog – if you have an elite goalie – can really do some damage.”

    Who’s the underdog? It’s fair to say host South Korea, in its first Olympics in men’s hockey, fits that bill, along with Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany and Norway.

    Yet being in a group with Slovenia, Slovakia and Russia is no easy task for the U.S., which boasts 38-year-old semi-retired captain Brian Gionta as its most experienced player. Granato said the U.S. ”has lots of pieces that other teams and countries don’t know about” and wonders if his team will be overlooked.

    Mistake-prone play seems likely, though Gionta doesn’t think there will be any lack of sizzle.

    ”I know there’s been some talk that not having the NHL guys in, you don’t have your high-skilled guys,” Gionta said. ”I think that’s a bad representation of the people that are going over there and competing in these games. There’s a lot of great hockey players.”

    ALL EYES ON DAHLIN

    One of the most dynamic and offensively talented players is also the youngest: Sweden defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who’s projected to be the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft in June. Dahlin has 11 points in 29 games playing against grown men in the Swedish Hockey League and had six points in seven games at the world juniors. He’s just 17.

    WHO ARE THESE GUYS?

    When the NHL announced it was out of these Olympics, executives from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada were quick to say every team would have 25 great stories. There are players on almost every team who are familiar because they played in the NHL at one point. Most of the rosters are made up of journeymen plying their trade in pro leagues in Europe, such as Czech Republic captain Martin Erat, Germany’s Christian Ehrhoff and Canada’s Ben Scrivens. Americans Troy Terry, Jordan Greenway, Ryan Donato and Will Borgen are currently playing college hockey.

    ”The tournament in general is going to be built with teams with lots of guys that this is the greatest event for them and they didn’t necessarily think they were going to get this opportunity,” Canada GM Sean Burke said.

    BIG ICE

    If the Sochi Games proved anything, it was that the international-sized ice that’s 15 feet wider than NHL rinks doesn’t create more offense. The U.S. and Canada built rosters with the bigger ice in mind, prioritizing skating and mobility and playing a more European style. That doesn’t mean European teams won’t have an advantage, but it won’t be such a stark change as when North American NHL players need a few games to get used to it.

    OAR PRESSURE

    The Olympic Athletes from Russia team is a favorite to win gold, which would be the first since the Unified Team in 1992. But Russia hasn’t medaled since 2002, including a disappointing showing on home ice four years ago. The chance to draw all its players from the Kontinental Hockey League should benefit Russia, which has won four of the past 10 world hockey championships. But something about this stage has made Russia play like less than the sum of its parts before, which makes even a star-studded team beatable.

    Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

    More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

    The Buzzer: Pacioretty continues hot streak

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    Players of the Night:

    Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: Here’s a name you haven’t seen often in these parts this season. But Pacioretty had two goals tonight, the opener for the Canadiens and the game-winner with 1:18 left in the third period to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. He also added an assist on Montreal’s other goal. Truth be told, Pacioretty has been sizzling lately with six goals and an assist in his past six games.

    John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks: Gibson had a quiet night for the most part until the third period, but he was stellar when called upon and made 23 saves, including a second-period beauty (which you will see below) to help his team to a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings.

    Highlights of the Night:

    James Neal had all the moves to help the Vegas Golden Knights secure a point on the road in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers.

    John Gibson got just enough on this puck to redirect it off the post and out for quite the save:

    Factoid of the Night:

    MISC:

    Scores:

    Panthers 4, Golden Knights 3 (OT)

    Canadiens 3, Capitals 2

    Ducks 2, Kings 1


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Henrique, Kesler too much for Quick, Kings in 2-1 Ducks win

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    Jonathan Quick did all he could.

    The posts behind him helped on a couple occasions, but Quick was everything the Los Angeles Kings needed to break out of their five-game losing streak, which they entered Friday wearing like a ball and chain.

    But while Quick was solid in the crease, making 29 saves, the men in front of him couldn’t replicate their goalie’s performance in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

    The Kings have now lost six straight and just two of their past 10 and are tied with four teams, including the Ducks, who sit on 53 points and just outside the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

    The Ducks-Kings rivalry has become quite the grind ’em out slugfest over time, and despite their recent downward spiral, the Kings weren’t going to roll over and die when the puck dropped, even if they played 24 hours earlier.

    This rivalry doesn’t allow for one team to not show up, despite whatever mitigating circumstances may be available.

    And neither team was giving the other any allowances, evidenced by a 0-0 scoreline after 40 minutes.

    The Ducks struck first in the third frame as Adam Henrique finally willed a puck behind Quick, who had puzzled Anaheim’s offense for 42 minutes and change.

    Henrique’s individual effort on the goal began a few seconds earlier as he won a foot race to the puck to get it into the Ducks’ zone, dove to make sure it stayed there and they got up and went to the net, where he picked up a loose puck that and put it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at the 17:55 mark.

    That lead was shortlived, however.

    The Kings struck back two-and-a-half minutes later as some extended offensive zone time by the Kings resulted in Alex Iafallo flicking a puck up and over John Gibson off a rebound to ruin his shutout bid at 4:48.

    The Ducks would get the final say.

    Jakob Silfverberg‘s excellent forecheck kept the Kings from clearing the puck out of their zone.

    The puck found its way to the point, where Francois Beauchemin unleashed a high point shot that was redirected down and under Quick by Ryan Kesler for the eventual game-winner.

    Gibson’s night may have been a little quieter than his counterpart 200-feet away, but he was on point when he needed to be, making 23 of 24 saves, including getting just enough on Iafallo’s second-period shot to steer it off the post and out to keep the game 0-0 at that point.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck