Nightly recap: Chicago and Pittsburgh remain winless at home, Tampa Bay steals one from Montreal

Well, tonight was certainly an odd night of hockey. To steal a phrase from professional wrestling, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators “hooked the tights” to shock their opponents late in games while the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins apparently haven’t seen those Under Armour “must protect this house” commercials (they are a collective 0-5 at home so far this season).

Anyway, obscure goofy sports clothing commercial references aside, let’s take a look at the first five games today (we’ll take a look at Vancouver at Anaheim later tonight or early tomorrow).

Washington 2, NY Islanders 1

Eh, same old, same old. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom starred for Washington (each player notched one goal and one assist) while the Capitals beat the Islanders. Ho hum, right?

Well, it wasn’t all old hat. For one thing, there was a first: Nino Niederreiter – the youngest player in the NHL – scored his first career goal in this one. It also happened to be a low-scoring, low-shot affair as Michal Neuvirth (23 out of 24 saves) slightly edged Dwayne Roloson (24 out of 26 saves). Sure, it ended with the Capitals taking two points and the Islanders leaving with zero, but it wasn’t the blowout many expected.

New Jersey 1, Buffalo 0 (OT)

Read all about Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller’s impressive performances by clicking here.

Toronto 4, Pittsburgh 3

I’ve heard about sports teams struggling to get acclimated to their new digs, but jeez, Pittsburgh is really taking that one far. They’re now winless in three games, but even worse, they didn’t even gain consolation points by losing during overtime or in shootouts. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs are now 3-0 and it’s not just against cream puffs, either.

Unless, um, the Penguins turn out to be cream puffs this season. Yikes.

Tampa Bay 4, Montreal 3 (OT)

The Canadiens looked like they were poised to take this one until Steve Stamkos scored a power-play goal with just a little more than a minute left in the third period to send this one to overtime. Ryan Malone then sent Montreal fans home shocked as he scored an opportunistic goal in overtime, adding a game-winner to his two secondary assists. (It seems like the move to No. 6 is going well for Malone.)

Carey Price is the last person to blame for this, as his regular season has been the polar opposite of his horrid preseason so far. He made 44 out of 48 saves in this one while Mike Smith had a much easier workload, stopping 24 out of 27.

Nashville 3, Chicago 2

The Nashville Predators won this one seemingly out of nowhere, in a way that would make Ric Flair proud (if he was involved in anything but the occasional Carolina Hurricanes game). Joel Ward scored a game-winning power-play goal with only 27 seconds left in the game as Nashville continue to be a difficult foe to deal with for Chicago.

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    Lupul apologizes, takes ‘full responsibility’ after calling out Maple Leafs on Instagram

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    Joffrey Lupul made headlines earlier this week after appearing to make accusations against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Instagram.

    The comments — which have since been deleted but caught on a screen grab — came after the Maple Leafs announced Lupul failed his physical prior to training camp for the second year in a row.

    “I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per the screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

    On Wednesday, the 33-year-old forward, who hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season, posted a statement on his verified Twitter account, saying his Instagram comments were an “inappropriate response.”

    Here is his entire statement:

    What’s also significant is that he stated he will not seek a second medical opinion regarding this failed physical. As previously noted, that option was available to him, although, per reports, the deadline for this was 5 p.m. on Thursday.

    Lupul is in the final year of his five-year, $26.25 million contract.

    Erik Cole retires as a member of the Hurricanes

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    Erik Cole has officially retired.

    The Carolina Hurricanes made the announcement on Wednesday, stating that Cole signed a ceremonial contract with the NHL team and retired as a member of the Hurricanes.

    Now 38 years old, Cole played 892 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 265 goals and 532 points. A number of his best seasons occurred while he was with the Hurricanes, reaching 30 goals with the 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning team.

    His best season came with the Montreal Canadiens in 2011-12, as he scored 35 goals and 61 points.

    His last season was in 2014-15. He began the year in Dallas and was moved to Detroit at the trade deadline, but a spinal cord contusion essentially meant an end to his playing career.

    From the Detroit Free Press in April, 2015:

    Cole revealed Wednesday that he has a spinal cord contusion severe enough doctors have cautioned him not to play again this spring.

    “It stems back from my neck injury in 2006,” Cole said. “When I ran into the player in the Arizona game, I bruised my spinal cord. A spinal contusion is something that you have to let heal and obviously, it’s a pretty serious occurrence. Doctors feel I need to look out for my well-being as a person, not just as a hockey player.”

    Cole is now a team ambassador for the Hurricanes.

    Eriksson looks to bounce back after ‘tough start’ with Canucks

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    The Canucks signed Loui Eriksson last summer, with the hopes he’d help give them a boost in scoring.

    It didn’t quite turn out that way — at least not during Eriksson’s first year of a lucrative six-year, $36 million contract with the Canucks.

    He scored only 11 times with 24 points in 65 games. The previous season in Boston, he scored 30 goals and 63 points in 82 games, so, yeah, it was a drastic drop in production in one year for the veteran winger, who started the year with a 13-game scoring drought.

    “It was a tough start,” said Eriksson, per The Canadian Press. “I had to work uphill through the whole season.”

    Read more: Under pressure: Loui Eriksson

    That’s a difficult start for any player, but especially for one at the beginning of an expensive new deal in a new market.

    “I’m anxious to see Loui. I’m confident that he’ll have a good season. We’ve talked about that … about the transition from Boston to Vancouver,” coach Travis Green said at the start of training camp. “He knows he has to have a better year than he had last year. I think he’s more than capable of it.”

    The Canucks were active this summer, too, signing a number of free agents. Again, the hope is the additions they made heading into the new season — Sam GagnerThomas Vanek and Michael Del Zotto among them — could help give them a spark offensively, particularly on the power play.

    Eriksson’s season ended in early March because of a lower-body injury. Now he’ll look to rebound from a disappointing season at the age of 32.

    Panarin trying to ‘find chemistry’ with new teammates in Columbus

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    Artemi Panarin faced his old team, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Tuesday.

    It was only preseason and Panarin didn’t register a point in just over 22 minutes of ice time, and 8:17 on the power play.

    But there was an interesting nugget to come from his media availability following the game — Panarin’s first against his old team following this summer’s blockbuster trade between the Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

    From the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Panarin was loose and comfortable, occasionally chatting in English and frequently devolving into giggle fits with teammates Vitaly Abramov and Matiss Kivlenieks, who tried in vain to interpret for him. In fact, Panarin said he was ‘‘glad’’ to be with the Blue Jackets, where he’ll have more creative control on the ice. As dynamic as he and Patrick Kane were as linemates, Kane is basically a center playing wing, dominating the puck.

    With the Blue Jackets, Panarin can be that guy.

    ‘‘I can play a little bit more with the puck,’’ Panarin said through the interpreters. ‘‘Just kind of express myself on the ice a little bit more.’’

    In two NHL seasons, both with Chicago, Panarin has been a scoring threat, reaching the 30-goal mark twice. Now with Columbus, Panarin is on a two-year contract worth a total of $12 million and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency when this deal concludes, per CapFriendly.

    With the Blackhawks, Panarin spent plenty of time alongside Kane and it appears there has been suggestions that his offensive production was inflated as the result of playing on a line with Kane.

    That suggestion has annoyed Panarin. Still, he joins a Blue Jackets team already equipped with a strong nucleus of young players that made considerable progress with a franchise-setting regular season in 2016-17.

    “We’ll see how the season will go,” Panarin told the Chicago Tribune. “Beginning of the season maybe I’ll need to make some adjustments, but I just try to find chemistry with my new partners. It’s still in progress.”