Cam Tucker

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Video: Okposo scores 2:37 into his Sabres debut

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Kyle Okposo made an instant impact for the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Making his debut for the Sabres — after missing the season opener with a sore knee — Okposo scored 2:37 into the first period against the Edmonton Oilers thanks to a nice set-up in front from Sam Reinhart.

Okposo later added an assist on Ryan O'Reilly‘s first goal of the season at the 7:14 mark of the opening period.

The Sabres signed Okposo to a seven-year, $42 million deal on July 1.

Related:

Okposo on joining the Sabres: ‘There’s so much skill, and the future is bright’

Bednar enjoys first NHL win, but stresses Avalanche need to be better defensively

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Jared Bednar’s NHL coaching debut shared some similarities with that of Patrick Roy’s first game behind the Colorado Avalanche bench three years ago.

Bednar won his first game as bench boss of the Avalanche. So, too, did Roy. On both occasions, the Avalanche scored six goals and beat a Western Conference opponent.

But Roy also erupted at former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, causing a confrontation between the benches — an incident that resulted in Roy, the former fiery Avalanche goalie, being fined $10,000.

Nothing like that for Bednar, who has worked his way up to the NHL from the coaching ranks in the ECHL and AHL. But it’s a positive start for Colorado, which underwent a sudden coaching change in August.

“I’ll tell you, that was a fun game,” said Bednar, as per NHL.com.

“It was an exciting game. I really liked it, I enjoyed being behind the bench. I thought our fans were amazing. I’m going to enjoy it, at least for tonight. It’s a good night, a successful night for our team. I don’t want to give up that many goals, but it was a fun game.”

Joe Colborne also had the hat trick in his first game as a member of the Avalanche.

But what the new coach won’t be happy with is letting the Stars back into the game — Dallas, with that high-flying offense, is certainly capable of sizable comebacks — after Colorado scored five straight goals to take a three-goal lead.

“I liked the way we played offensively. I thought we were skating and on our toes, creating chances. I think we have to get better defensively,” he said.

“We made some mistakes defensively up ice that gave them some numbers and gave them some scoring chances early in the game and also a little bit later.”

Rask says he’ll ‘definitely’ be ready to face Jets

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 20:  Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in goal against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on February 20, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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After missing Saturday’s game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, it appears goalie Tuukka Rask will return to the Boston Bruins lineup Monday.

Rask was a “little sore,” said coach Claude Julien, so the Bruins instead turned to back-up Anton Khudobin in Toronto and were defeated. Khudobin allowed three goals in the first period, as the young Leafs got off to a perfect start on home ice and basically cruised from there.

The Bruins, now 1-1 to begin the season, will face the Jets to wrap up a three-game road trip. Rask told reporters on Sunday that he’s feeling good and he’ll “definitely” be ready to return.

Good news for Boston.

The Bruins should also have David Backes in the lineup. He was involved in a fight with Nazem Kadri in the first period Saturday.

Meanwhile, the biggest center piece for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron, is skating on his own in Boston as he deals with a lower-body injury, according to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.

Goaltending will be key in turning Canucks’ objective of winning into a reality

Erik Karlsson Ryan Miller
AP
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Ryan Miller didn’t allow a goal Saturday against the Calgary Flames.

He was on the bench when teammate Loui Eriksson inadvertently slid the puck into the Vancouver Canucks net while there was a delayed penalty against the Flames.

It was the only time Calgary scored in the game. The Canucks came back to win 2-1 in the shootout.

Despite the gaffe from his teammate, Miller stopped all 25 shots he faced. NHL.com didn’t have him credited for the shut out as of the writing of this piece, although Sportsnet Stats says STATS LLC was giving Miller the shut out because that one Calgary goal, eventually given to Troy Brouwer, was into an empty net.

The Canucks’ 36-year-old goalie was solid, as he turned away Johnny Gaudreau in regulation and again in the shootout. He stopped all four Calgary attempts.

Not many are predicting the Canucks to be very good this season. In fact, USA Today had them projected to finish with a lousy 65 points, last in the league. Ouch.

But if the Canucks are serious about being a winning team this year, they’re going to need big things from Miller and Jacob Markstrom.

There are just too many question marks throughout their lineup.

What kind of offensive production from the 36-year-old twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin is realistic?

Eriksson was brought in to help boost Vancouver’s scoring and its power play, and the twins had a dynamic third-period shift that led to the tying goal Saturday. But how will they fare over the course of 82 games at their age?

Where are the goals going to come from once you get beyond the top line, or up-and-coming forwards like Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi, who were better in the second half of last season?

The defense should be of particular concern, especially when you get to the bottom pairing of Luca Sbisa and Philip Larsen or the No. 7 and No. 8 guys Nikita Tryamkin and Alex Biega.

The Canucks will take this one. They were able to spark a come-from-behind win against a Calgary team playing its third game in four nights and still searching for its first victory.

But if scoring is an issue like it was last season, the play of their goalies will be pivotal in turning playoff talk into a reality.

Related:

‘Make no mistake,’ Ryan Miller is still the No. 1 goalie in Vancouver

Panik scores the hat trick, leading the Blackhawks into the win column

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Richard Panik #14 of the Chicago Blackhawks attempts to knock the puck down against the St. Louis Blues in Game Seven of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scottrade Center on April 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) Richard Panik scored three goals for his first NHL hat trick, Scott Darling was sharp in making 33 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks earned their first victory of the season, 5-3 over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

Nick Schmaltz, one of four rookies in Chicago’s lineup, scored his first NHL goal and Brent Seabrook added a power-play score and an assist as the Blackhawks rebounded from a 3-2 loss at Nashville on Friday. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith each had two assists.

Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Viktor Arvidsson scored for the Predators.

Nashville trailed 3-0 after Schmaltz, Seabrook and Panik scored in a 3:43 span in the first period, and could never pull even in this one.

The Predators outshot Chicago 36-27 and dominated in stretches, but were stymied by Darling in the backup goalie’s first start this season.

Nashville backup Marek Mazanec had 22 saves after Pekka Rinne stopped 22 of 24 Friday.

The Blackhawks scored on three of their first five shots to take a 3-0 lead and led by two after the first period as Darling stopped 15 of 16 Nashville attempts, including several nifty saves on point-blank chances.

Schmaltz opened the scoring 6:36 in when he plowed to the net off the left boards and beat Mazanec on the short side with a rising shot.

Seabrook’s power-play goal 1:43 later – from a faceoff and just 6 seconds into the advantage – made it 2-0. His shot from the right point deflected in off the stick of Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm.

Panik extended it to 3-0 at 10:19 when he drove to the net against defenseman Matt Carle, pivoted in front and slid in a backhander.

Wilson cut it to 3-1 with 1:29 left in the first by poking in a rebound of James Neal‘s shot to complete a 3-on-1 break.

Darling came up with two of his best saves, close-in pad stops on Smith and Wilson seconds apart, with just over five minutes left in the second.

From a faceoff and 6 seconds into a power play, Smith cut it to 3-2 on shot from the right circle with 1:16 left in the period.

Set up by Marian Hossa‘s pinpoint pass, Panik tapped in his second goal, on a power-play at 4:56 of the second to make it 4-2. But Arvidsson drove to the net, outworked Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell at cut it to 4-3 at 10:06.

Panik iced it when he completed his hat trick with 1:31 left after he was set up at the side of the net by Kane.