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Wild match franchise records with 48th win and 104th point

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DENVER (AP) Devan Dubnyk‘s 40th win of the season was far from easy and came with an assist from a late replay review.

He certainly didn’t mind the result of the unusual ending.

Dubnyk stopped 30 shots and Minnesota caught a break when a goaltender interference call disallowed a goal, helping the Wild hold off the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Thursday night to tie franchise records for points and wins in a season.

“It was pretty crazy,” Dubnyk said. “I’m glad they got that call right even though the fans don’t agree. But it was the right call.”

Nate Prosser, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker added goals for the Wild, who have amassed 104 points and 48 wins in clinching the second spot in the Central Division. The last time they reached those plateaus was during the 2006-07 season.

“It tells you we’re doing something right this season and winning games,” Granlund said.

Tyson Jost scored his first NHL goal, while Matt Nieto and Francois Beauchemin also contributed goals during the home finale for the Avalanche.

Here’s how the divisive play unfolded: The Avalanche had a 6-on-4 with 1:39 remaining after Wild defenseman Christian Folin was called for cross-checking and goaltender Calvin Pickard was pulled for an extra skater. About 25 seconds later, Sven Andrighetto pushed the puck past a sprawled-out Dubnyk. But Minnesota challenged the play claiming goaltender interference and the tying goal was negated.

“Definitely goalie interference,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog didn’t agree. He said the official told him that Nathan MacKinnon pushed a defenseman into Dubnyk.

“Nate’s getting pushed around, just like Nate is supposedly pushing someone else,” Landeskog said. “I think it’s a good goal.”

Zucker scored 10 seconds into the contest to match the Wild record for fastest to start a game – a mark held by him. Zucker also accomplished the feat on Oct. 25, 2015, at Winnipeg. The forward was returning after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury.

“I don’t know if there’s a better way to start a game,” Zucker said.

Niederreiter knocked in a shot off a perfect pass from Eric Staal with 13:17 remaining. Granlund added a valuable insurance goal midway through the final period as Nieto lined a shot that hit off Prosser’s body and went into the net to make it 4-3 with 5:40 left.

It set up a wild finish.

Jost had a nifty goal by sending a wrist shot over Dubnyk. In the stands, Jost’s grandfather was caught wiping away tears.

“He doesn’t really like all the cameras and everybody catching him crying, but he cares a lot about his family and that’s just a testament to how much he cares,” said Jost, who was the 10th overall pick by Colorado in the 2016 draft.

There was a scary moment early in the game when linesman Ryan Galloway was helped off the ice after taking a puck to the face. Wild center Martin Hanzal was trying to flip the puck into the Avalanche zone when it struck Galloway, who left with a towel on his face and blood on the ice.

Dubnyk didn’t go into the season hoping for 40 wins. After all, that’s a big number for a goaltender to imagine.

“If you could tell me at the start of the year that I was going to finish the season with 40 wins, I would have probably said, `Yeah, sure,”‘ Dubnyk said.

In their final home game, the Avalanche recognized the fans by giving away jerseys, framed photos and even a pair of skis. Colorado has drawn well all season despite its dreary record.

“Maybe it’s not deserved, but we appreciate it all the same,” forward Matt Duchene said of the support.

 

Devils hold open tryouts for emergency goalies

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Steven Porzio’s father was a New York Rangers fan, but he always rooted for the New Jersey Devils. A goaltender himself, Porzio was struck by Martin Brodeur, and he dreamed of replacing the NHL’s career wins leader when his days at the Prudential Center were done.

Porzio is now 27 years old and working in information technology, and he’s given up hope of replacing Brodeur.

He still might suit up for the Devils on their home rink, though.

Porzio and 14 others tried out Saturday to become the Devils’ emergency goaltender for this season. They were run through drills by former New Jersey goalie Scott Clemmensen at the Prudential Center, faced shots from players in the minor league system and even used a dressing room next door to the Devils’ home locker room.

Read more: Kings hope to find emergency goalie candidates with open tryouts

“You walk through the locker room area and see all the team photos, the little replica Stanley Cups,” Porzio said. “That gives you chills a little bit.”

This wasn’t exactly fantasy camp, though. Clemmensen pushed the prospective netminders – mostly former college or junior players – through rigorous tests to evaluate their skating and puckhandling.

“Put them through a legitimate goalie clinic today, which I don’t know if they were expecting,” said Sarah Baicker, the Devils’ director of content and communications, who helped coordinate the tryouts. “A couple guys looked like they’re going to sleep really well tonight.”

The tryouts are in response to a new league rule for this season, which mandates that teams have an emergency goalie present for all home games ready to fill in for either team. Last year, a number of clubs required backups on short notice, including when the Chicago Blackhawks called on Philadelphia-area youth hockey coach Eric Semborski for a game against the Flyers because Corey Crawford needed an emergency appendectomy.

New Jersey plans to pick a winner by the end of the week, and that goalie will need to be at all 41 Devils home games this season, plus the playoffs. New Jersey might pick more than one player to split up the schedule, though it hasn’t decided yet if the emergency goalies will be paid.

The 15 netminders at the rink Saturday were selected from a pool of nearly 400 applicants, some of whom were targeted by the team.

“The skill level was pretty good, and that’s what we’re looking for today,” said Clemmensen, now the goaltending development coach for the organization.

Among the final group was 43-year-old Anthony Felice, a hockey coach at Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York, who has been an emergency backup for the Devils’ minor league teams in Lowell and Trenton. Injuries have slowed the former junior player, but he’s healthy enough now to seek “a chance to do it one more time.”

“To come out here and be in the big building was a lot of fun,” he said.

Not all the participants were Devils fans, either. Matt Palella, a 23-year-old who played at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, just moved to the area from Chicago for a job in Manhattan a few weeks ago. He got word of the tryout and put in his name, not sure what he’d get from the experience.

“I was expecting, `Go in the corner, figure it out,”‘ he said. Instead, he was surprised by how well New Jersey treated him and the others. “It was top-notch.”

Palella blew out his knee late in his college career, and this was just his second time skating since the injury.

“I’m not hurt,” he said. “That’s all I care about. Walking away in one piece.”

 

Jankowski ‘continues to impress’ at Flames camp

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Mark Jankowski made his Calgary Flames debut last season. It appears he’s making quite a case to at least start the new campaign in the National Hockey League.

On Friday, he notched his third goal of the preseason, helping the Flames to a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes. Make that three goals in three exhibition games for Jankowski, Calgary’s first-round pick from the 2012 NHL Draft.

Once considered an “off-the-board” pick in that opening round, the 6-foot-4 center has developed into a very intriguing prospect, particularly after an impressive 2016-17 season down in Stockton, scoring 27 goals and 56 points in 64 AHL games. He appeared in one NHL game last season, and is leaving an impression during this year’s training camp, too.

Read more: Looking to make the leap — Mark Jankowski

“The confidence thing, right? These young players grow more confident as it goes,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said of the 23-year-old Jankowski following last night’s game.

“I thought he played well tonight. I thought he was better tonight than he was against Vancouver (on Wednesday) and he just continues to impress everybody.”

Calgary has three more preseason games remaining on their schedule, which could provide more of an opportunity for Jankowski to prove himself to the Flames coaching staff ahead of the regular season.

“I’m just trying to get better every day and keep on showing the coaching staff and management what I can bring to this team,” Jankowski told reporters.

“As camp goes on and it gets thinner and thinner, I just have to keep on doing that and get in some preseason games against almost full NHL lineups. That’s when you can really show your stuff, show you can play at this level and have an impact.”

Hossa undergoes ‘independent medical evaluation’ to determine if he’s eligible for LTIR

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Marian Hossa and the Chicago Blackhawks announced in June that the 38-year-old forward will miss the entire 2017-18 season with a skin disorder.

However, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the National Hockey League has yet to determine if Hossa will be eligible for long-term injured reserve.

“Marian Hossa underwent an independent medical evaluation several days ago,’’ NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘We are waiting for the report. Once we have that, we should be in a position to determine his proper status.’’

Hossa’s total salary is only $1 million for this year. His cap hit remains at $5.275 million.

From CSN Chicago:

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below it the day the regular season begins. If the Blackhawks place Hossa on LTIR, it wouldn’t take effect until the second day of the regular season. So on Day 1 of the season, the Blackhawks would still be carrying Hossa’s $5.275 cap hit.

Once the LTIR would take effect, though, the Blackhawks would have wiggle room. If they spent to the $75 million cap, they could utilize Hossa’s entire $5.275 million cap hit on other players.

While there are salary cap implications for Chicago with Hossa’s absence, not having him in the Blackhawks lineup is a difficult loss. Yes, he’s approaching 40 years of age, with more than 1,300 NHL regular season games under his belt. But last season, he also posted 26 goals and 45 points — still very productive at his age.

It was reported, prior to the Blackhawks announcing that Hossa had this skin condition, that there was a “legitimate possibility” Hossa had played his last NHL game.

Karlsson is back skating, but ‘we don’t want him to get too excited,’ says Boucher

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The good news? Erik Karlsson hit the ice to skate with his Ottawa Senators teammates on Saturday.

“Back at it,” is what the star defenseman wrote in an Instagram post, which included a photo of him on the ice in a blue jersey.

It’s certainly an exciting development for the Senators and their fans. Karlsson was a dominant player for Ottawa during the Stanley Cup playoffs despite playing with a foot injury that later required surgery, with an expected recovery time of four months.

Head coach Guy Boucher, however, offered some cautionary words on Karlsson’s status. Basically, it’s exciting, but Boucher doesn’t want anyone — Karlsson included — to get too far ahead of themselves right now.

“It’s a positive thing, but we don’t want to get too excited. It’s a second step,” said Boucher, according to NHL.com.

“The first step was to let the therapists tell us when it was adequate to put him on the ice, because you need to get the flexibility and the strength off the ice before we could put [him] on the ice. Yesterday they apparently put the skates on to see how it felt and [went] very lightly on the ice, and they felt he was able this morning [to] get dressed and be with the boys.

“Basically, this is the second step, but there’s quite a few steps before we get to him playing. We don’t want him to get too excited.”

His status for the Senators’ season opener against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 has been up in the air since he underwent the operation. Karlsson admitted earlier this month that he wasn’t sure if he’d be ready for that game.

Ottawa is dealing with a few injury situations right now, with four preseason games remaining on their schedule. Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL and given how important he is to the Senators, there is absolutely no need to rush him back into the lineup if he’s not ready.