Radek Faksa

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The Buzzer: Byron nets hatty, Wedgewood blanks former team

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Players of the Night:

Paul Byron, Montreal Canadiens:

Byron notched his first career NHL hat trick as the Canadiens annihilated the Detroit Red Wings 10-1. He now has nine goals on the season, well on pace to eclipse his career-high of 22 he set last season. Bryon was claimed off waivers by the Canadiens from the Flames on the day before the 2015-16 began. He’s exceeded expectations, to say the least.

Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins:

How’s this for a replacement for Matt Murray? Two wins, one shutout, one goal allowed in 120 minutes of play. Jarry has been sensational since Murray went down with a lower-body injury and the Penguins are reaping the rewards.

Scott Wedgewood, Arizona Coyotes: 

Wedgewood stopped 26 shots from the New Jersey Devils en route to his second-career shutout against the team that he recorded his first with. The Devils had yet to have been shutout this year prior to Saturday.

Highlights of the Night:

Wedgewood did this to Stefan Noesen:

Byron’s hat trick goal came off a nice snipe:

Ryan Miller did his best Domink Hasek:

Viktor Arvidsson was instrumental in a pre-game proposal:

Streak-ender of the Night:

The Buffalo Sabres finally scored. Jason Pominville, mercifully, fired home in the third period against the Penguins, the first goal for the club since Nov. 24, some 233:19 of game time.

Factoids of the Night:

A couple from the night of destruction in Montreal:

Alex Ovechkin moved himself up the all-time goal-scoring list again. Ovechkin is tied with Nikita Kucherov, who scored twice on Saturday,  for the league-lead in goals at 19.

Tyler Seguin played quite a bit tonight:

MISC:

    • The St. Louis Blues have lost three straight and four of their last five after dropping a 2-1 overtime decision against the Minnesota Wild.
    • So close, yet so far: The Oilers had a 6-1 lead early in the third period only to watch it get cut to 6-5 as the Calgary Flames stormed back after a brutal start. Alas, the Oilers held on to win their sixth game in a row against their Battle of Alberta rivals.
    • Radek Faska has five goals in his past three games for the Dallas Stars.
    • Elliotte Friedman said on Hockey Night in Canada that there is a “sense and a hope” that the salary cap in the NHL could reach $80 million next season.
    • On the same broadcast, Friedman touched on what it would take for the Sabres to trade Evander Kane. The asking price, of course, is high. Friedman said the returns bigger than those of what the Winnipeg Jets got for Andrew Ladd (Marko Dano, 1st round and conditional picks) and the Arizona Coyotes got for Martin Hanzal and Ryan White (1st, 2nd, 4th round picks) should be expected.
    • Furthermore, the Los Angeles Kings are going to make pending UFA Drew Doughty a priority when it comes to inking him to a long-term extension.

Scores:

Bruins 3, Flyers 0

Wild 2, Blues 1 (OT)

Canucks 2, Leafs 1

Canadiens 10, Red Wings 1

Lightning 5, Sharks 2

Penguins 5, Sabres 1

Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3

Hurricanes 3, Panthers 2 (OT)

Coyotes 5, Devils 0

Predators 3, Ducks 2 (SO)

Stars 3, Blackhawks 2 (SO)

Oilers 7, Flames 5


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Faksa’s hot hand cools Vegas

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Player of the Night: Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars.

In a span of 6:46, Faksa scored all three of the Stars’ goals in a 3-0 win, slowing down the Vegas Golden Knights for at least one night. (That face he’s making in the post’s main image is actually a reaction to all of the gambling/”Facts of Life” puns that thankfully didn’t make it into headlines.)

This is the first hat trick of Faksa’s career. He now has eight goals this season, putting him in a position to crush last season’s career-high of 12 goals.

Troll of the Night: Glen Gulutzan

There’s believing in your team and then there’s challenging an empty-netter with less than a second remaining.

Someone should break down the environmental impact of the NHL actually having to go through the motions of doing a blog post and everything else they would normally do on this tally.

Wasted Rally

The Rangers admirably fought back from a three-goal deficit to tie things up against the Panthers, with Chris Kreider (two goals, one assist) and Pavel Buchnevich (1G, 2A) leading the way. For those who question Kreider’s efforts, consider this goal:

It was all for naught, as Denis Malgin – new addition to Florida’s top line – scored the game-winner, and didn’t even have the decency to wait until overtime.

Highlights of the Night

Bo Horvat made a great play, with bonus points for it this goal coming at John Tavares‘ expense. Save that puck, kid.

To little surprise, Tavares got the last laugh, powering the red-hot Islanders to a 5-2 win.

Malcolm Subban made some sweet saves for Vegas in a losing effort, too:

Factoids

Anze Kopitar is about as hot to start this season as he was cold in all of 2016-17, basically:

Circling back to Tavares, maybe the Islanders should stay in Brooklyn a little longer, after all?

A friendly reminder that Auston Matthews is a premium “volume shooter,” among other skills.

John Tortorella isn’t just good at landing gigs, he usually makes his presence felt.

Scores

Lightning 2, Sabres 0
Islanders 5, Canucks 2
Panthers 5, Rangers 4
Sharks 3, Flyers 1
Blue Jackets 3, Hurricanes 2 (SO)
Kings 4, Red Wings 1
Predators 3, Blackhawks 2
Maple Leafs 4, Flames 1
Oilers 3, Coyotes 2 (OT)
Stars 3, Golden Knights 0

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.

Video: Coyotes’ Luke Schenn scores in his own net during loss to Stars

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As you may have heard, things haven’t been going well for the Arizona Coyotes this season. Yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Dallas Stars dropped their record to 0-6-1 in 2017-18.

Arizona actually jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the game, when Derek Stepan opened the scoring 5:50 into the first period.

Dallas’ Jamie Benn got that goal back less than a minute later on the power play. Unfortunately for Arizona, the bleeding didn’t stop there. Less than a minute after Benn scored, Radek Faksa was credited with the go-ahead goal to give the Stars a 2-1 advantage.

The thing is, Faksa’s stick wasn’t the last one to touch the puck before it went into the Arizona net. It was Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn that had that honor.

That’s a tough break, but that’s just the way the puck’s been bouncing for them this season.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Breaking down Stars’ bumpy start after ‘winning another offseason’

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New head coach, new starting goalie, same old problems?

The Dallas Stars distinguished themselves by making waves during the offseason – again – yet they find themselves in a 1-3-0 hole after falling 4-1 to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

When it comes to righting the ship, there’s good news and bad news.

While Jamie Benn provides the expected “not good enough” to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, it’s not surprising that head coach Ken Hitchcock got to the heart of the matter: they’ve been making opposing goalies look like stars so far.

That could be read as “bad bounces” shorthand, and you know what? Hitchcock is correct.

Things that should change over time

With a 2.94 shooting percentage at 5-on-5, the Stars only have better shooting luck so far than the remarkably unlucky Montreal Canadiens.

It’s also worth noting that they haven’t really been able to fully deploy their new weapons. Ben Bishop dealt with a freak injury when his goalie mask didn’t provide enough protection, while Martin Hanzal‘s off to a rough start thanks to health and possibly supplemental discipline for that hit on Yannick Weber.

(Granted, if the Stars didn’t realize that Hanzal’s had a maddening history of injuries, that’s also on them.)

The Stars can’t blame a faulty power play for their troubles, however. They’ve converted on 33.3 percent of their opportunities (4 for 12), tying the Toronto Maple Leafs for the most efficient unit.

To some extent, that scoring issue is likely to work itself out.

Chance to mix things up

Still, one cannot help but wonder if Hitchcock might want to spread the wealth as far as linemates go.

So far, Alex Radulov is spending almost every minute on a top-heavy line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. That’s fun for fantasy hockey nerds, but if the Stars are struggling to score at even-strength, maybe they need to move one or more of those big names around?

These are the Stars’ lines if Hanzal plays, via Left Wing Lock:

Benn – Seguin – Radulov

Remi ElieJason SpezzaBrett Ritchie

Mattias Janmark – Hanzal – Devin Shore

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaTyler Pitlick

One option that stands out is that the Stars have some room to maneuver with as far as centers go. Faksa could conceivably be an option on the third line, possibly allowing Spezza to go to a wing. Failing that, Ritchie might be an option on the top trio if Hitchcock wanted to experiment with pairings in Spezza – Radulov and Benn – Seguin.

None of this needs to happen ASAP, and perhaps the current alignments are the best ones.

The positive side of early-season uncertainty is getting the opportunity to experiment, though.

The road ahead

“Inconsistent” might be a word that gets thrown around in part because of a schedule with some ups and downs.

The Stars play three of four and four of their next six games at home, so that’s an opportunity to get things on track (so far they’ve played two games at home and two on the road).

They’ll need to brace themselves, as they’ll begin a five-game road trip on Oct. 24.

***

The Stars have tied their opponents in shots on goal once and won the shots battle three times this season. On two occasions, they generated a significant differential. There are plenty of signs that this team is experiencing bad luck and should start to see things go their way.

(Tyler Seguin leads the NHL with 29 SOG, but only has two goals so far. As just one example.)

There’s a fine line between things working out over time and “making your own bounces,” so Hitchcock should use these early challenges as learning opportunities.

Even for himself.

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.

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Tierney accepts Sharks’ qualifying offer, could still be traded

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Update: The Sharks confirmed the signing on Thursday.

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Sometimes a signing puts speculation to bed for almost a decade. Every now and then, a deal barely delays additional questions.

TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that Chris Tierney accepted the San Jose Sharks’ qualifying offer: a one-year offer for $730K. NBC Sports California’s Kevin Kurz believes that such a move won’t quiet trade talk regarding Tierney.

Kurz indicates that, in re-signing Ryan Carpenter, the Sharks had less incentive to give Tierney more than that minimal qualifying offer. He brings up some interesting comparisons to other players who recently signed more lucrative deals and who enjoy more comfortable placements on their respective teams:

Still, it’s notable that the Sharks – according to a source – did not offer Tierney anything other than a one-year deal for his qualifying offer. In comparable deals in Dallas, Brett Ritchie, who has 34 points (22g, 12a) in 117 games over three seasons, recently signed a two-year, $3.5 million extension (although Ritchie did have arbitration rights). Radek Faksa, who did not have arbitration rights and has 45 points (12g, 21a) in 125 career games, signed a three-year, $6.6 million contract on Monday.

(Read more about Ritchie in this post and Faksa’s contract here.)

Tierney, 23, made a solid impact as a rookie, managing 21 points in 43 games back in 2014-15. Since then, his production has stalled out in the 20 range even while playing essentially full seasons in 2015-16 (20 points) and 2016-17 (23).

Tierney did appear in 24 games during San Jose’s 2016 Stanley Cup Final run, nabbing nine points and averaging a respectable TOI of 14:46.

It’s unclear what kind of trade market there would be, although that playoff experience and having 202 regular-season games under his belt at 23 means there could be at least mild interest.