TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend


Saturday: Philadelphia at Detroit (7 p.m. ET)

A win was a win Tuesday over Florida, but Philly didn’t exactly look fantastic against the Panthers. Claude Giroux still doesn’t have a point. Ditto for Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. If not for Steve Mason, Craig Berube’s head-coaching debut may not have ended so well. As for the Wings, they’ve dropped two straight since opening with a pair of wins, and head coach Mike Babcock was fuming after Thursday’s home loss to Phoenix.

Saturday: Colorado at Washington (7 p.m. ET)

If you haven’t seen the undefeated Avalanche play this season, make an effort to catch this one. Not only does new coach Patrick Roy have his young forwards showing off their speed and skill, the Avs’ goaltenders have combined to allow just three goals in their first four games. Semyon Varlamov should get the start against his old team after Jean-Sebastien Giguere shut out the Bruins on Thursday. On the other side of the ledger, with just one victory in their first four games, the Caps could really use a win here. And if somebody besides Alex Ovechkin would like to score for them, we bet Adam Oates would be most appreciative.

Saturday: Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)

No shortage of star power in this matchup. Not that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have needed to be dominant in the Pens’ first three games. Not with Marc-Andre Fleury providing all his doubters with something to think about. The 28-year-old starter has allowed just three goals in three starts and boasts a save percentage of .963. But Tampa Bay is playing pretty well, too. The Lightning blew away the Panthers, 7-2, on Thursday, with Steven Stamkos notching a hat trick.

Saturday: NY Rangers at St. Louis (8 p.m. ET)

If only to see if the Rangers can pull out of their death spiral against one of the best teams in the NHL. Alain Vigneault’s club has lost two straight shockers, 9-2 to San Jose and 6-0 to Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Blues are a perfect 3-0-0, including Wednesday’s 3-2 last-minute win over the defending champs from Chicago. Good luck, Martin Biron.

Sunday: Ottawa at Anaheim (8 p.m. ET)

Bobby Ryan returns to The Pond. That should be interesting. But more importantly, it’s Throwback Night! The Ducks will be celebrating their 20th anniversary season by wearing their retro purple jerseys and inviting old members of the original 1993-94 team to partake in festivities throughout the game. We hear Bob Corkum will be shot out of a cannon in the second intermission.

The Jimmy Vesey show leads Rangers over Capitals

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: Jimmy Vesey #26 of the New York Rangers waits for the faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on October 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin had the big highlight early in the game on Saturday night, but it was New York Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey that ended up stealing the show.

Vesey scored a pair of goals for the Rangers — the first multi-goal game of his career —  to help lead his team to a 4-2 win in Washington.

Even though he had never played a game in the NHL before this season, Vesey was still one of the most sought after free agents this summer after he completed his college career at Harvard. He eventually signed an entry level deal with the Rangers, and given how much attention his free agency saga generated it seemed hard to believe that he could ever match the hype. Especially given the track record of players signed as free agents coming out of college (it’s not a great one).

It’s obviously still very early in his career, but so far Vesey has not disappointed in New York.

Saturday was by far his best performance of the season, scoring both of his goals just three minutes apart in the second period. The first goal tied the game at two to help erase a two-goal deficit, and then his second goal proved to be the game winner.

It was also a heck of a play.

Rick Nash would add an empty net goal late in the third period to put the game away for the Rangers while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced.

For Washington, the loss is its first regulation loss of the season and snaps what had been a three-game winning streak.

Video: Marc Staal was no match for Alex Ovechkin on this goal

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 15: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against New York Islanders during the second period at Verizon Center on October 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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After being held without a point in his first two games of the season, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.

That includes his goal on Saturday night in the first period against the New York Rangers.

It’s one that will probably make the personal highlight reel for Ovechkin, but it certainly won’t make the highlight reel for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

To say that this head-to-head matchup turned out to be a mismatch would be … well … a bit of an understatement.

As Ovechkin crossed the blue line into the Rangers zone he started to toe-drag around Staal, only to stop midway through and just rip it from outside the circle, using Staal as a screen and beating Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.

It is probably not a good sign when the defenseman has his back to the shooter when the puck is released.

That goal gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead.

Red Wings’ Abdelkader out with lower body injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.

The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.

He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.

He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.

After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.

According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers hospitalized

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers has been hospitalized.

Demer’s director of parliamentary affairs confirmed Saturday that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, had been admitted to a Montreal hospital, but couldn’t immediately provide any details.

Demers had a stroke in April. He was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

Demers led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the NHL, and Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Quebec in the WHA.