Devils’ Gionta signs with AHL Albany

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The Albany Devils got a familiar face back in the fold on Monday as Stephen Gionta agreed to an AHL contract.

Gionta, 29, is Albany’s all-time leader in almost every significant statistical category: points (135), goals (56), assists (79), shots (815) and games played (360).

But last year, he made an improbable mark on the parent club, emerging as a key contributor for the New Jersey Devils.

Gionta had a brief regular season cameo — scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Ottawa — then jumped to prominence in the postseason, scoring seven points in 24 games as the Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.

Along with Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier, Gionta played on a fourth line that was crucial to New Jersey’s success. The trio combined for 21 points and finished the postseason with a plus-11 rating, and all three were rewarded with contract extensions in late June — Carter and Bernier signed matching two-year, $1.55 million deals while Gionta received a two-year, $1.125 million deal.

Even though Gionta signed with New Jersey on a one-way deal, he was eligible to sign and play in the AHL during the lockout because he was on Albany’s 2012 “clear day” list.

Gionta will presumably fill Adam Henrique’s role in Albany. The reigning Calder Trophy nominee is out 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, though it’s possible he could miss additional time given the injury’s severity.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane
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On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.