Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Will Avs end Blackhawks streak?

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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Colorado Avalanche will head to the United Center for a match against the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:00 p.m. ET.

This is a game Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has been looking forward to for over a month.

Back when Chicago’s points streak was still in his infancy, Landeskog turned to Paul Stastny and asked him, “When do we play Chicago?”

“Now there is only one more game in between and then it’s up to us and we could have a chance to end that streak,” Landeskog told NHL.com before Chicago’s 5-3 victory against Chicago on Tuesday. “To be honest, I want them to win Tuesday night and we want to be the team that goes in there and puts an end to that.”

Well, Landeskog got his wish.

Chicago’s point streak is not only by far the longest that anyone has ever mustered to start a season, it’s the second longest of all-time at 29 consecutive games (dating back to last season). On top of that, if the Blackhawks beat the Avalanche tonight, it will mean that they powered through the entire first half of their schedule without a single regulation loss.

The Colorado Avalanche seem like an unlikely group to end Chicago’s historic run given their 8-9-4 record, but there are reasons for the Blackhawks to be worried.

First off, Landeskog is back from a head injury and has had five games to shake off the rust. Ryan O’Reilly has also gotten two games under his belt after finally re-signing as a restricted free agent.

Starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov has been inconsistent lately, but he held the Blackhawks to just six goals in three starts last season.

It would still be impossible to paint the Avalanche as anything other than huge underdogs, but sooner or later one of these underdogs will get the better of Chicago in regulation. After all, Chicago can’t earn a point in all 48 of their games this season…can they?

Probable goaltenders: CHI – Ray Emery (9-0-0, 2.02 GAA, .926 SV%) | COL – Varlamov (6-8-3, 2.79 GAA, .910 SV%)

Top scorers: CHI – Patrick Kane (12-15-27, 23 GP) | COL – PA Parenteau (9-10-19, 21 GP) and Matt Duchene (7-12-19, 20 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Chicago – Forwards: Michael Frolik (illness) Defensemen: Steve Montador (concussion)
Colorado – Forwards: Milan Hejduk (upper body), Steve Downie (knee) Defensemen: Erik Johnson (concussion), Ryan Wilson (ankle)

Bolts re-sign Sustr — one year, $1.95 million

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Tampa Bay shored up some blueline depth on Monday, agreeing to terms with Andrej Sustr on a one-year, $1.95 million extension.

Sustr, 26, appeared in 80 games for the Bolts last season, matching Braydon Coburn for most played among defensemen. Prior to the campaign, he represented the Czechs at the World Cup of Hockey.

A restricted free agent, Sustr gets a pay bump from the $1.45 million he made annually on his last deal. There’s a good chance he’ll see an increased role next year, especially after the Lightning lost Jason Garrison to Vegas at the expansion draft. It also remains to be seen if GM Steve Yzerman will bring back depth blueliner Luke Witkowski, an unrestricted free agent.

That said, Sustr could still be pushed for minutes.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder might face a challenge from the likes of Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek and Mikhail Sergachev, the prized youngster acquired from Montreal in the Jonathan Drouin trade.

Sabres hire Sexton, Greeley as assistant GMs

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It was reported Saturday and made official today — Randy Sexton is joining the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant general manager. He will also serve as GM of the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

Also joining the Sabres as assistant GM is Steve Greeley, who spent the past two seasons as assistant director of player personnel with the New York Rangers.

“Randy and I developed a positive working relationship during our time in Pittsburgh and I think his experience and insight will be advantageous for our front office,” said Sabres GM Jason Botterill in a release. “In Steve, we have hired a talented hockey executive who will offer unique insight to our organization. They both have experience at all levels of the game and we think they will be valuable assets for the Buffalo Sabres moving forward.”

Sexton’s job with Rochester will be especially important for what Botterill is trying to do with the Sabres.

“I think one of the successes of the organization that I’m coming from is the relationship between Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh,” Botterill said when he was hired in May. “We want to re-strengthen the relationship with Rochester and Buffalo.”

The last two years, Sexton has been the Penguins’ director of amateur scouting.

Report: Elliott making ‘tentative’ plans to live in Winnipeg

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The talk of Brian Elliott joining the Jets isn’t going away.

This morning, Rick Ralph of TSN 1290 tweeted that Elliott has “been making tentative accommodation plans for Winnipeg.”

The 32-year-old goalie is an unrestricted free agent, and the Jets’ goaltending was once again a sore spot last season.

“We’re going to a take a look at whatever is available to us and if there’s a good opportunity there that can help us, we’ll jump at it,” GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Saturday at the draft, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “We’ve got a list of names lined up to reach out to their representatives and see if we’re a fit for them and as far as they want to consider us.”

Read more: Is Brian Elliott a fit for Winnipeg

The Jets have Michael Hutchinson under contract for one more year before he can become unrestricted.

Connor Hellebuyck, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent. The Jets are still high on him, but perhaps rushed him into the No. 1 job last year.

“We want forward progress for the team,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “Either Connor or Michael has to step up on that or we’ve got to get some help for those guys.”

Elliott, of course, had a tough first year in Calgary. The Flames then went a different way by acquiring Mike Smith from Arizona.

‘That’s definitely a huge option for us’: Brian Boyle wants to go back to Tampa

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Brian Boyle spent almost three full years with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at last March’s trade deadline.

The veteran center liked his stint in Tampa so much that he’s willing to go back there when he becomes a free agent in less than week.

“We love Tampa,” said Boyle, per the Tampa Bay Times. “If Tampa wanted to work out a deal, that’s definitely a huge option for us. That’s something that I’ve kind of always thought about. I haven’t closed the door on anything.”

Boyle enjoyed quite a bit of success with the Bolts. During his time there, he scored at least 13 goals in each of his three seasons, which isn’t bad considering he was more of a bottom-six player when he was there.

It’s unclear if the Bolts would be willing to take him back at this point, but a big factor will likely be his contract demands.

“(Tampa) is a great place to be, great place to start a family. And, honestly, we’ll see what they say. You want to be wanted. That’s the other part.”

The Lightning have just over $23 million in cap space right now. That seems like a good amount, but they still have to sign Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrej Sustr. It’s also pretty clear that they’re in the market for a top four defenseman, and that won’t come cheap. As of right now, they only have three blue liners on one-way contracts.

The 32-year-old is coming off a contract that paid him $2 million per season. He should be able to fetch a higher number if he hits the open market.