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Blues win fourth in a row on strength of Berglund’s hat trick

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MONTREAL (AP) Patrik Berglund scored three goals to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night for their fourth straight road win.

David Perron also scored for the Blues, who end a stretch of five consecutive away games on Wednesday in Detroit. St. Louis has won five of its last six games overall.

Berglund’s hat trick gave him six goals in his last five games and 17 on the season.

Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty scored for the slumping Canadiens, who are 1-4-1 in their last six.

The Canadiens controlled most of the play and outshot St. Louis 30-22, but lacked finish around the net.

The Blues went ahead 3:49 into the game when Jeff Petry lost his stick and Alex Pietrangelo had an open shot that Berglund got a piece of as it went past Al Montoya, who lost his balance and fell in his crease just before the shot was taken. It was the first goal Montoya allowed at the Bell Centre this season in four appearances.

Weber tied it at 16:39 with a blast from the right point that handcuffed Jake Allen.

Perron scored 7:20 into the second period when he took a drop pass from Jori Lehtera and shot between Montoya’s pads.

After a long stretch of play in St. Louis’ zone, Nathan Beaulieu‘s shot went in off Pacioretty at 12:55 for the Canadiens captain’s 28th of the season.

Berglund got his second of the game with 25 seconds left in the period on a shot through a screen. He added an empty netter to complete the hat trick at 18:59 of the third, as Perron left the puck for him to tap in the goal.

NOTES: Canadiens C Tomas Plekanec played his 900th NHL game. … Blues C Paul Stastny sat out with a lower-body injury suffered Thursday in Toronto. … Montreal RW Brendan Gallagher, out since Jan. 7 with a broken hand, is scheduled to return Sunday night in Boston. Carey Price is expected to start in goal for that game. … A moment of silence was held before the game for former Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who died this week.

UP NEXT

Blues: at Detroit on Wednesday night.

Canadiens: at Boston on Sunday night.

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

Related

Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.