Nikita Zadorov

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The Buzzer: McQuaid’s violence, up goes Brown

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Player of the Night: Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings

Look, one good game – or even a good week or month – won’t wave a magic wand and make Brown’s contract a bargain.

Still, all the agitating 32-year-old can do is play his best, and Brown made the most of lining up with Anze Kopitar on Wednesday. Most obviously, he scored two tip-in goals in short order during the third period; tying the contest and then giving the Kings a lead that would at least open the door for them to grab a “loser point” in OT. Brown also had an assist, so his three points stand out on a night heavy with two-goal performances.

The most promising thing for the Kings might be that Brown resembled his peak self by filling up the box scores beyond the two goals and one assist. Brown had a +3 rating, four penalty minutes (not necessarily positive, but a possible sign of engagement), eight shots on goal, five hits, and one blocked shot.

Sounds quite a bit like the guy who used to draw a ton of penalties, score 25-30 goals, and fire a lot of shots.

Highlight of the Night: Does this not qualify?

OK, then let’s go with Brad Marchand‘s second goal of the season:

Factoid of the Night: Brian Gibbons’ shorthanded goal was the first of its kind in New Jersey Devils’ history.

Misc.: Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid made his presence felt in his team’s 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

First, he delivered this hit on Tyson Jost, who is believed to be OK after the game:

Maybe stemming from that hit, Nikita Zadorov took McQuaid on in a rough bout:

Scores and recaps

Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2 (more here)

New Jersey 6, Toronto 3 (more here)

Colorado 6, Boston 3

Anaheim 3, Islanders 2

Calgary 4, Los Angeles 3 [OT] (more here)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

PHT Morning Skate: A make or break season for Marc Bergevin in Montreal?

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— Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has drastically overhauled his team over the past two seasons with some blockbuster trades (P.K. Subban for Shea Weber; Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin) and some massive contracts (re-signing Carey Price, signing Karl Alzner in free agency). As Eric Engels of Sportsnet points out the Canadiens are extremely unique in how they are almost purposely designed to be reliant on their goaltender (both in a financial sense and in the way the team plays on the ice), while the team has seen progressively worse results when it comes to its ability to go deep in the playoffs. Put it all together and you have what could be a make-or-break season for the Canadiens’ GM. [Sportsnet]

Auston Matthews is coming off one of the best rookie seasons in recent NHL history. Now he is being tasked with helping to deliver the first Stanley Cup in Toronto in more than 50 years. No pressure, kid. [Sports Illustrated]

— Defenseman Nikita Zadorov was a healthy scratch for the Colorado Avalanche in their season opener after arriving in training camp late and not getting back up to speed in time. The Avalanche had more than $9.4 million in salary sitting out as scratches on Thursday. It did not stop them from defeating the New York Rangers by a 4-2 margin thanks to a two-point night from Matt Duchene. [Denver Post]

— If it seems like there have been a lot of hat tricks so far this season, that is because there have been. The 2017-18 season is the first time since 1917-18 that four different players have recorded hat tricks in season opening games.

— The first goal in Little Caesars Arena history belongs to Anthony Mantha. The Detroit Red Wings won their debut game in their new building over the Minnesota Wild by a 4-2 margin. [YouTube]

— The Chicago Blackhawks routed the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night by a 10-1 margin. Patrick Kane had a couple of highlight reel assists during the game.

Jared Cowen on buyout from Maple Leafs: ‘it was a joke of a process’

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Jared Cowen has not played in a professional hockey game since February of 2016, just before he was traded by the Ottawa Senators to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the blockbuster Dion Phaneuf trade.

Cowen, a top-10 pick in the 2009 NHL draft, never played in a game for the Maple Leafs organization and was involved in a complex arbitration case with the team after the team bought him out. The Maple Leafs executed the buyout in an effort to create additional salary cap space, a move that Cowen challenged on the grounds that he was injured and it was against league rules for the Maple Leafs to buy out his contract.

Cowen lost the case (and $3 million) and became a free agent, finally landing with the Colorado Avalanche this summer on a tryout contract in the hopes of resurrecting his once promising career.

On Friday, he spoke with Adrian Dater of BSNDenver and was extremely critical of the process with the Maple Leafs.

Via BSNDenver.

“Basically, they got me, figured out that I was hurt, they didn’t want to deal with it and they got rid of me.”

“It was a joke of a process,” Cowen said. “But, it’s in the past. It was a stressful time in my life, in terms of getting traded, getting bought out, getting waived, finding out I needed surgeries.”

Obviously, his time in Toronto was not a very pleasant experience for him.

Now he is getting an opportunity to crack an Avalanche lineup that is desperate for help on the blue line.

When it comes to finding a spot that would give him a chance to make an NHL roster, Colorado was probably the best possible landing spot for him.

The Avalanche have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL for a couple of years now and still have a defense that looks to be woefully undermanned on paper. Even after finally signing restricted free agent Nikita Zadorov they only have four NHL defensemen under contract for the 2016-17 season. Five if you include prospect Andrei Mironov. So there is obviously a spot to be had if he can impress in training camp and the preseason.

Prior to the injury that sidelined him in 2016 Cowen had appeared in 249 NHL games — all with the Senators — and scored 15 goals to go with 31 assists.

Report: Avalanche sign Zadorov for two years, $4.3M

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The Colorado Avalanche haven’t resolved their biggest issue in trading Matt Duchene, but they reportedly took care of a more direct deadline on Friday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Avs have a two-year deal in the works for RFA defenseman Nikita Zadorov, while TSN’s Pierre LeBrun puts the cap hit at $2.15 million per season. That would result in a two-year, $4.3M contract for Zadorov.

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers passes along word from Jared Bednar, who confirmed that a Zadorov deal is done.

Let’s take a quick look at Zadorov, then.

The 25-year-old was a first-round pick (16th overall in 2013) by the Buffalo Sabres, ultimately becoming a part of Colorado’s takeaway in the Ryan O'Reilly trade.

After being limited to 22 games with the Avs in 2015-16, he played in 56 last season, failing to score a goal while compiling 10 assists. He averaged a career-high 19 minutes and two seconds per game.

Zadorov is very much a “work in progress,” and he has the erratic “HERO Chart” to go with such thoughts.

While Zadorov has some work to do, it’s not an outrageous price tag, particularly for an Avalanche team that has huge needs on the defensive side.

Training camps seem like they’ve been a helpful next deadline for teams and RFAs who were trying to come to compromises.

‘Here to honor my contract’ — Duchene reports to Avalanche camp

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The Colorado Avalanche opened training camp on Thursday and Matt Duchene was there — after several days of speculation about whether or not he would report and months of trade talk.

The trade rumors still persist (see here and here) and, despite his contract being a potential hurdle, a deal involving the 26-year-old forward as the centerpiece may some day get done.

But as of Thursday, he’s still a member of the Avalanche and he was back with his teammates.

He even delivered a brief statement, though, per multiple reports, he didn’t take additional questions.

While Duchene reported, there was one notable absence on Thursday.

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, one of only four remaining restricted free agents across the NHL, was not there for the beginning of camp. While awaiting a new deal with Colorado, there had been rumblings this summer that the towering 22-year-old blue liner could go back to Russia and the KHL.