Nightly recap – Saturday, October 30th

It’s the busiest night of the year. I look at it as the NHLs way of preparing for Halloween since everyone wears masks all the time anyway. Anyhow, lots of action to cover so here we go.

NY Rangers 2 – Toronto 0

The Leafs offense continues to sputter, meanwhile Henrik Lundqvist gets the benefit of a 36-save shutout for his efforts. Brian Boyle had a goal and Ryan Callahan scored on a penalty shot for New York. Toronto had plenty of shots, just no luck getting one by Lundqvist.

Florida 3 – Montreal 1

Tomas Vokoun spoiled the comeback of Habs defenseman Andrei Markov by making 40 stops in the win for Florida. Vokoun out-dueled Carey Price to earn the win. Shawn Matthias had a goal and an assist for Florida in the win. Markov played 23:03 and registered five shots on goal for Montreal in his first game back since injuring his knee last season.

Boston 4 – Ottawa 0

Tim Thomas continues to be the man in Boston. Another shutout for the goalie leads to his goals against average falling to an unreal 0.50 this season. Thomas stopped 29 shots in the win and is turning heads all over the league with his play. Meanwhile, Milan Lucic scored his fourth goal of the year and rookies Jordan Caron and Tyler Seguin each scored their third in the win.

Philadelphia 6 – NY Islanders 1

An all-around ugly game for the Islanders ends up being a destructive effort out of the Flyers in a 6-1 romp. Chris Pronger had two goals for Philly, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves in the win. Things got a bit ugly in the third period as the teams exchanged scrums, questionable hits, and fights leading to two game misconducts, and 61 penalty minutes. 114 penalty minutes in all and three players were kicked out of the game in all as Trent Hunter, Trevor Gillies and Daniel Briere all had their nights end early. Expect there to be repercussions for Briere’s cross check.

Pittsburgh 3 – Carolina 0

Brent Johnson continues to make life hard on opponents as well as Marc-Andre Fleury after pitching a 33-save shutout. Pascal Dupuis did the heavy lifting for the offense scoring twice while Max Talbot scored as well. Getting the offense going was important for Pittsburgh as they were without Evgeni Malkin.

Detroit 5 – Nashville 2

No Jimmy Howard, no problem for the Red Wings as they’ve got Pavel Datsyuk around to make up the difference. Datsyuk had two goals and an assist while Chris Osgood stopped 23 shots en route to the victory. Nick Lidstrom and Ruslan Salei added two assists each for Detroit while Joel Ward and Kevin Klein had a goal each for the Predators.

St. Louis 4 – Atlanta 3 (F/SO)

Jay McClement ruined the comeback game for Ondrej Pavelec. With Pavelec playing his first game since passing out on the ice opening night, McClement made sure to make the night more memorable for himself netting a hat trick. Pavelec had a solid outing nonetheless stopping 32 shots in the shootout loss. Jaroslav Halak saw his shutout streak end at 160:13 in the first period when Rich Peverley scored.  Halak made 25 saves in the win.

Chicago 3 – Minnesota 1

Troy Brouwer and Duncan Keith each had a goal and an assist in the game while Marty Turco stopped 25 shots in the win. Marek Zidlicky scored Minnesota’s lone goal, meanwhile Niklas Backstrom saved 29 shots in the loss.

Dallas 4 – Buffalo 0

Another stinker of a game for the Sabres, this time on the road in Dallas. Andrew Raycroft stopped 34 shots earning the shutout. Brad Richards lead the offense with two assists while four different Stars players chipped in goals. Things are going the wrong way for Buffalo who might be in need of a shake up. Patrick Lalime did save 37 shots in the loss.

Colorado 5 – Columbus 1

Chris Stewart’s hot season continues as the young power forward had his ninth goal of the year and added an assist in Colorado’s romp over the Blue Jackets. Paul Stastny also had a goal and an assist while Peter Budaj saved 33 shots in the win. Derick Brassard had Columbus’ lone goal in an otherwise sorry effort for the team.

Tampa Bay 3 – Phoenix 0

Perhaps there’s something to the Tampa Bay Lightning after all. Dan Ellis stopped 23 shots in earning the shutout. Meanwhile, Steven Stamkos scored his ninth goal of the season in helping to lead the Lightning to victory in front of an announced crowd of just over 8,000 fans in Arizona. Coyotes captain Shane Doan picked up an instigator penalty for starting a fight with defenseman Pavel Kubina after Kubina was busted for a kneeing penalty.

Washington 7 – Calgary 2

What started off well for Calgary being up 2-1 after the first period, ended horribly after giving up six goals in the second period including two quick ones to Alexander Ovechkin and an own goal courtesy of Cory Sarich. David Steckel also had a penalty shot goal after being hauled down on a breakaway by Mark Giordano. The Flames have now allowed six-plus goals in back-to-back games.

Los Angeles 3 – New Jersey 1

Another offensively challenging game for the Devils, only this time Martin Brodeur couldn’t save them. Meanwhile, Jon Quick was stellar in stopping 39 shots in the win for L.A. Justin Williams, Michal Handzus, and Jarret Stoll all scored for the Kings while rookie defenseman Matt Taormina scored his third goal of the season for New Jersey. As for Ilya Kovalchuk, he was booed every time he touched the puck and held without a point. You win this round, Los Angeles.

San Jose 5 – Anaheim 2

Another bad night for the Ducks as backup goalie Curtis McElhinney had his hands full in dealing with a Sharks team that was too fast for Anaheim’s defense. To make matters worse, the Ducks couldn’t even win the battles with their fists. Five different Sharks players, including Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau scored goals while Antero Niittymaki held strong in goal to hold things down in net stopping 22 shots. For Anaheim, it’s another bad game for them, one that makes you think their season is going to be a consistent roller coaster of mayhem all year.

Canucks look to remain unbeaten on tough weekend road trip

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 15: Brandon Sutter #20 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his game winning goal against the Calgary Flames during a shootout of their NHL game at Rogers Arena on October 15, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Ben Nelms/Getty Images)
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The Vancouver Canucks were a popular preseason pick to finish the 2016-17 season as one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. Who knows, when all is said and done they still might end up closer to the basement. But for now, the Canucks are — quite surprisingly! — the NHL’s last unbeaten team thanks to a 4-0-0 start that has included a bunch of one-goal wins, including three overtime games.

Relying on overtime and come-from-behind wins every night probably isn’t the best long-term strategy when it comes to winning games, but for right now it has worked, and the wins in October count just as much as the wins later in the season.

Every point helps.

If they want to remain as the NHL’s only unbeaten team through the weekend they are going to have to do it on a tough road trip that features a set of back-to-back games in Los Angeles and Anaheim.

Any set of back-to-back games on the road is a tough situation, especially when you are talking about two teams that have been Stanley Cup contenders in recent years as the Kings and Ducks typically are. But this weekend swing may not be as daunting as it would have first appeared when the schedule came out.

They get a Kings team on Saturday that is off to a 1-3 start and has already given up 15 goals in four games. A lot of that is due to the absence of starting goalie Jonathan Quick. Backups Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj have not played particularly well in his place. They didn’t get their first win until Thursday on a controversial overtime goal against Dallas.

Then on Sunday the Canucks make a visit to Anaheim to face the Randy Carlyle-led Ducks who are only 1-3-1 through their first five games while only scoring 10 goals.

In other words: Everything seems to be going Vancouver’s way right now. They are keeping teams off the scoreboard, finding ways to win, and even when they go on their first road trip of the season they are getting a pair of teams that are struggling. If they can somehow get through this set of back-to-back games they return home for another three-game home stand against Ottawa, Edmonton and Washington. So they have a great opportunity to get off to a fantastic start.

Even Dylan Larkin is fighting for the Red Wings now

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 11:  Dylan Larkin #71 of the Detroit Red Wings plays against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 11, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Something very strange has been happening in Detroit in the early parts of the 2016-17 season.

The Red Wings … are fighting. A lot.

This is a strange development because not only fighting has been rapidly decreasing across the league for several years now, but also because the Red Wings have been last in the league in fighting majors in 10 out of the past 11 seasons. The one year over that stretch they were not last (2012-13) they were 29th. Nobody fights less than these guys.

In most of those years they never even reached double digits in fighting majors, and have only had eight in each of the past two seasons.

But through the first five games this season they already have five of them, and that includes a rather stunning participant on Friday night during their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predator — 20-year-old forward Dylan Larkin, the team’s leading goal-scorer from a year ago and a top-five finisher in the Calder Trophy voting.

He dropped the gloves with Predators defenseman Yannick Weber early in the third period on Friday night.

Have a look.

According to the database (all fighting stats listed here are via their database) that is Larkin’s first ever fight. And not just in the NHL, but apparently anywhere in hockey. He seemed to handle himself quite well. But let’s be honest, the Red Wings probably do not want to see the guy that is probably their best offensive player risking injury to drop his gloves and fight somebody.

As mentioned above, the Red Wings already have five fighting majors this season a number that currently leads the NHL. No other team in the NHL has more than three.

When it comes to their actual play on the ice the Red Wings have now won three games in a row after the starting the season 0-2.

They received a little bit of extra help late in the third period on Friday when protecting a one-goal lead they were given a full two-minute, 5-on-3 power play in large part because of Predators forward James Neal taking one of the worst penalties of the season when he cross-checked Alexey Marchenko after the play.

Neal’s teammate, Calle Jarnkrok, was already penalized on the play for high-sticking Darren Helm. Those two penalties pretty much ended whatever comeback hopes Nashville had on the night as Helm ended up scoring a power play goal with 22 seconds to play.

Blue Jackets call up Sonny Milano from AHL

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31:  Sonny Milano #22 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates in his first NHL game against the the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on March 31, 2016 in New York City.  The Islanders defeated the Blkue Jackets 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Immediately after earning their first win of the season — a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks — the Columbus Blue Jackets made a roster move by calling up one of their top prospects, forward Sonny Milano, from the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.

To make room for Milano on the roster the Blue Jackets sent Oliver Bjorkstrand down to the AHL.

The 20-year-old Milano was the Blue Jackets’ first-round draft pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2014 NHL draft. He spent most of the 2015-16 season playing for Lake Erie (now Cleveland) during their Calder Cup winning season, recording 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) during his first full season of pro hockey. He also added another eight points (four goals, four assists) during the Calder Cup playoffs.

His 2015-16 season also included a brief cup of coffee in the NHL with the Blue Jackets where he appeared in three games and recorded one assist near the end of the seasonHe had one goal in two games with Cleveland to start this season..

Milano is a highly skilled player that can do some pretty incredible things with the puck and should bring a little bit of excitement to a team that could really use some fresh talent up front.

Trevor van Riemsdyk could be out ‘for a bit’ for Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 05:  Trevor van Riemsdyk #57 of the Chicago Blackhawks shoots against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on April 5, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It turned out to be a tough Friday night for the Chicago Blackhawks in Columbus.

Not only did they lose the game to the Blue Jackets, 3-2, thanks to another rough night for their penalty killing unit, but they also lost a defenseman to injury.

Trevor van Riemsdyk had to leave the game in the first period with what was described as an upper body injury when he crashed into the net. After the game coach Joel Quenneville said that van Riemsdyk could be “out for a bit” due to the injury, via Eric Lear of Blackhawks TV. He appeared in all 82 games for the Blackhawks a year ago and played nearly 20 minutes a night.

Before Friday he had appeared in only one game this season, while his name had been being mentioned in trade rumors. With van Riemsdyk getting back into the lineup on Friday there had been some speculation that it could make veteran defenseman Brian Campbell a healthy scratch, but the Blackhawks instead opted to dress seven defensemen. Even with the injury to van Riemsdyk, Campbell only played 12 minutes on Friday.

In other Blackhawks injury news, Quenneville said that injured forward Marian Hossa — who did not play on Friday — is questionable for the Blackhawks’ game on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.