Jonathan Bernier was brilliant again last night in Nashville, stopping all 36 Predators shots in a 4-0 Toronto win.
With the shutout, Bernier’s save percentage rose to a ridiculous .974, the highest among regular starters in the NHL. And while three starts and one relief appearance is a small sample size, Maple Leafs fans have to love what they’re seeing from the 25-year-old who was acquired this summer in a trade with Los Angeles.
Believe it or not, the Leafs were the only team that really seemed to want Bernier, according to Kings general manager Dean Lombardi.
“(Toronto GM) Dave Nonis was really the only one who was seriously interested in him,” Lombardi told ESPN.com. “Everyone else was just tire-kicking. I was shocked at the lack of real interest. He had proven himself again last season. The other reason I think people overlook Bernier is because he is small; they overlook his hockey sense which is his best asset.”
To get Bernier, the Leafs had to send backup goalie Ben Scrivens, forward Matt Frattin and a second-round draft pick to L.A. — hardly a king’s ransom (no pun intended, but what the heck, it works.)
At the time, the move drew criticism from some who wondered why Nonis would choose to give up anything for Bernier when James Reimer was coming off a good season for the Leafs. But in hockey history, not many teams have been doomed by having too many quality goalies, and if Bernier establishes himself as the number one in Toronto, Nonis can always trade Reimer for something in return.
Speaking of teams that may be in the market for a goalie at some point, the Leafs host the Oilers on Saturday.
Zach Parise on Sunday scored his 300th career NHL goal, a milestone that puts him in rare company.
Parise got the Wild on the board early in the second period versus the New York Islanders, becoming only the third Minnesota-born player to reach 300 career NHL goals.
As per the Wild, Parise joins Dave Christian, who scored 340 goals and 773 points in 1,009 career games, and defenseman Phil Housley, who scored 338 goals and 1,232 points in 1,495 games.
Parise added goal No. 301 of his career later in the second period.
There was no miracle comeback this time for the Winnipeg Jets. No heroics from highly touted rookie Patrik Laine.
Puck drop at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field was delayed due to glare from the sun. When the game did begin, the Jets couldn’t get anything going, falling behind in the second period against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers leave Winnipeg with a 3-0 victory.
It started with Mark Letestu opening the scoring with a short-handed goal after a mistake from Dustin Byfuglien at the Edmonton blue line.
The Oilers continued to ruin the party with a goal from Darnell Nurse — in the box when Letestu scored — just 1:46 later. And Zack Kassian made it that much more difficult for the Jets to come back with another second-period goal for Edmonton. Three goals in just about eight minutes and it was game over.
The Jets’ record falls to 2-3 — a slow start that puts them at the bottom of a very difficult Central Division.
And their schedule likely won’t do them any favors, either, with home-and-home sets against Dallas and Washington, not to mention some back-to-back games on the road.
Meanwhile, the Oilers have had a completely different start to their season.
A week ago, head coach Todd McLellan blistered his team for a brutal performance on home ice against the Buffalo Sabres. Goalie Cam Talbot wasn’t good at all, allowing a goal from center ice.
A distant memory, it seems. Talbot stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shut out Sunday.
The message from that effort versus Buffalo — the lone blemish on Edmonton’s schedule so far — seems to have been received from the Oilers.
They went on to beat Carolina and St. Louis, and then they took control of Sunday’s contest in the middle period and didn’t give Winnipeg anything from there.
With a power play in the second period, the Winnipeg Jets had a good opportunity to take the lead on home ice in the Heritage Classic.
But instead, it was the Edmonton Oilers cashing in.
Mark Letestu opened the scoring with a short-handed goal, beating Connor Hellebuyck on the glove side on a breakaway after Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien whiffed on the puck at the blue line.
Letestu took advntage. That’s his second goal of the season, both coming on the penalty kill.
The Oilers were able to further silence the crowd in Winnipeg, as Darnell Nurse, right out of the penalty box, buried a Connor McDavid pass just 1:46 after Letestu’s goal.
Sam Reinhart has two assists through four games this season, and Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has made a move with the hope of getting the 20-year-old forward going offensively.
As per John Vogl of the Buffalo News on Sunday, Reinhart has been moved to the middle between Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons, while Matt Moulson was moved to the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.
Reinhart, a 23-goal scorer from last season, had two assists through the first two games, but has been kept off the score sheet in Buffalo’s last two contests.
Outside of that six-goal outburst versus Edmonton last weekend, scoring has been an issue for the Sabres early in the season. So adjustments to the forward combinations is to be expected.
“Sam needs to get a little bit more feet moving, a little bit more speed to his game,” said Bylsma, as per the Buffalo News.
“He’s made some great plays for us early on – power play and five-on-five for the Okposo goal – but we need to get more out of Sam, moving his feet more, playing a little bit faster, a little bit quicker and providing a little bit more offense for our team.”
The Sabres, without two key forwards in Jack Eichel and Evander Kane with long-term injuries, which would help explain the team’s early offensive issues, conclude a four-game road trip Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Sabres also called up forward Hudson Fasching and defenseman Casey Nelson from Rochester in the AHL.