Preseason quick recaps – September 26th

NHL.gifIt was a light night in preseason action and somehow the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make an appearance. Tonight’s big game occurred in Edmonton. Big being a relative term considering it’s a preseason game.

Detroit 5 – NY Rangers 3

Plus: Brian Rafalski pretended like it was the Olympics once again scoring a goal and adding three assists in his first action of the preseason. Sean Avery played well and had a goal for New York. Norwegian Olympic hero Mats Zuccarello looked well playing the role of a pest and helping set up Erik Christensen for a shorthanded goal.

Minus: Referee Kelly Sutherland wrongly negating a Detroit goal because, you guessed it, Tomas Holmstrom was in the crease. Replays showed Holmstrom neither interfering with Rangers goalie Martin Biron nor standing in the crease. Reputation calls in preseason? Oy. Red Wings play while on the man advantage was sketchy allowing two-on-one breaks the other way, one leading to Artem Anisimov’s shorthanded goal.

Montreal 4 – Minnesota 3

Plus: Habs rookie defenseman Brendon Nash had a goal and an assist. He’s played well in the preseason and while it’s not expected he’ll get a shot with Montreal, it’s good to have young talent emerging in camp nonetheless. The Wild were able to score three goals tonight and Anton Khudobin did reasonably well in the start saving 24 shots.

Minus: So the Wild did score three goals, but they did so on just 14 shots, including just one shot in the second period. The Wild are poised to be an offensively-challenged team as it is. Showing some signs of life in the preseason would go a long way to helping the fans deal with things. Alex Auld stopping merely 11 out of 14 shots could be seen as a minus, or it could be seen as an example of what happens when you fall asleep in goal.

Edmonton 8 – Vancouver 2

Plus: Jordan Eberle showed off a little bit tonight for Edmonton scoring two goals and adding an assist. Shawn Horcoff did the same while Gilbert Brule had two goals and two assists. Save some for the regular season guys, you’re going to need it. Nikolai Khabibulin looked strong in his first game of the preseason stopping 26 out of 28 shots.

Minus: Everything Vancouver did defensively. They were slow, Oilers players routinely blew by them and goalie Cory Schneider ate all eight goals in the loss. Cody Hodgson was quiet in the game, not earning a point but managed to not eat a minus rating on the night, instead ending up a +1. At least he had that going for a hapless Canucks team.

St. Louis 2 – Colorado 0

Plus: Goalie Ben Bishop had a 29-save shutout for the Blues. Meanwhile, Brad Boyes and T.J. Oshie had the goals. Avs goalie Craig Anderson, despite the loss, made 37 saves in the effort.

Minus: Holy crap, Avs defense. 39 shots allowed again tonight and forcing Craig Anderson to put in a mid-season effort in a preseason game seems a bit unfair. Give the guy a break, would you?

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    The Buzzer: McDavid dominates; Fleury’s unlucky return

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    Player Of The Night: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

    The Edmonton Oilers have at least started to show some signs of life in recent games. They were shutout on Sunday night in Toronto, but sandwiched around that game were a convincing 6-2 win in Montreal and then a thoroughly dominating 7-2 win in Columbus on Tuesday night that left Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella completely speechless.

    Leading the way for the Oilers was captain Connor McDavid as he went off with a four-point night.

    The four points are a season high for him and the fifth time this season he has recorded at least three points.

    That performance gives him 39 points in 31 games on the season and currently has him third in the NHL scoring race, three points behind Tampa Bay Lightning teammates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

    Marc-Andre Fleury Probably Deserved Better In His Return To The Lineup

    Marc-Andre Fleury made is return to the Vegas Golden Knights net and looked great, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced. Unfortunately that was not enough to get Vegas a win as they fell in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2.

    One of those two shots in regulation that beat him? It was this.

    That is unfortunate.

    Still, that is another point for Vegas as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference during their inaugural season in the NHL.

    Highlight Of The Night

    The Philadelphia Flyers were 4-2 winners over the Toronto Maple Leafs and have now, suddenly, won four games in a row following a 10-game losing streak.

    They picked up the winner on Tuesday thanks to this goal that featured a crazy between-the-legs pass.

    Highlight Of The Night Part Two

    Now let us take a look at Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames. This came in a losing effort in the shootout but this is still a slick move. Maybe illegal? Either way, it counted.

    Factoid(s) Of The Night

    — By stopping all 32 shots he faced against the St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 20th win of the season. He is just the sixth goalie in NHL history to win at least 20 games within his first 25 starts of a season. [NHL Public Relations]

    Matt Cullen scored his 250th career goal in the Minnesota Wild’s 2-1 shootout win over the Calgary Flames, making him the 29th American-born player in NHL history to reach that mark. [Minnesota Wild PR]

    — Carolina Hurricanes goalies Cam Ward recorded his 300th career win on Tuesday night in their 3-2 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights. He is the fifth active goaltender to reach that mark. [NHL Public Relations]

    Scores

    Buffalo Sabres 3, Ottawa Senators 2

    New Jersey Devils 5, Los Angeles Kings 1

    Philadelphia Flyers 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

    Washington Capitals 5, Colorado Avalanche 2

    Edmonton Oilers 7, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

    Tampa Bay Lightning 3, St. Louis Blues 0

    Minnesota Wild 2, Calgary Flames 1

    Chicago Blackhawks 3, Florida Panthers 2

    Carolina Hurricanes 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Vasilevskiy shines again as Lightning take top spot in NHL

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    Tuesday’s game in St. Louis was a showdown featuring the top two teams in the NHL.

    In the end it was the Lightning picking up the 3-0 win to extend their current winning streak to five games and to reclaim sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NHL.

    Their win improves them to 22-6-2 on the season and puts them two points ahead of the Blues despite having played two fewer games.

    It was another impressive showing for Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the underrated stars of this year’s Lightning team. Most of the attention has been directed to forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (and deservedly so!) but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Vasilevskiy, in his first full season as the Lighting’s full-time starter, has been one of the best goalies in the league so far.

    Tuesday’s game was his third shutout of the season, and after his 32-save performance against the Blues his .933 save percentage is among the best in the NHL, while his 20 wins (in only 25 starts) are tops in the league. Nobody else in the league has more than 17.

    While Vasilevskiy was shining in net again, Kucherov scored his 21st goal of the season to move back into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the league. It was also his 42nd point which moved him into a tie with Stamkos for the league lead.

    Brayden Point also continued his breakout season by opening the scoring with his 13th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Tyler Johnson‘s third period goal.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    John Tortorella had no time for questions after blowout loss (Video)

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    Since being hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets John Tortorella has seemed to be a kinder, gentler coach.

    The blow ups and battles with the media don’t seem to happen as much. We don’t get as many rants.

    He just does not seem as angry all the time.

    Losing 7-2 at home to the Edmonton Oilers, however, might change a few things.

    That it was happened to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night and Tortorella was in no mood to answer question about the game.

    His press conference consisted of him stepping to the podium, saying there is no point in answering questions about the game, then leaving.

    Here it is in all of its glory.

    The only question we have: Is this shorter than the night he said the New York Rangers “sucked from head to toe?”

    (Oddly enough, that game was also against the Edmonton Oilers).

    That press conference lasted, roughly, 14 seconds from the time he started talking until the time he walked away (and also included the line “I know you have a job to do”).

    Tonight’s comes in at just around 12 seconds. So we might have a record for the shortest John Tortorella press conference of all time.

    Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

    Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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    CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

    Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and Philadelphia from 1987 to 2000.

    He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

    “We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family,” Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

    “This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family.”

    Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

    He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

    Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League’s Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

    He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.