In the midst of a solid sophomore season, it’s easy to understand why there would be anxious moments for Jets fans after forward Nikolaj Ehlers was hurt Friday.
The 21-year-old Ehlers, with 49 points in 64 games, was hurt midway through the second period versus the St. Louis Blues after he was on the receiving end of a massive open-ice hit from Ryan Reaves.
Ehlers jumped up to glove the puck ahead and was promptly knocked to the ice by Reaves. He remained down, while the hit drew a reaction from the crowd and from his Winnipeg teammates.
Reaves received a minor penalty for roughing, while Ehlers went to the dressing room for further evaluation before eventually returning.
Welcome to the Penguins, Mark Streit.
After an eventful trade deadline day that saw the 39-year-old defenseman traded from Philadelphia to Tampa Bay and then dealt again later on to Pittsburgh, Streit settled in with his new team by scoring the game-winning goal Friday — against those same Bolts.
Nice pass from Sidney Crosby, who found Streit all alone in front after a breakdown in the defensive end from Tampa Bay. That goal, just 1:28 after Nikita Kucherov scored to tie the game, gave Pittsburgh the lead once again and the Penguins wouldn’t let it go this time in a 5-2 victory.
Streit also had an assist and played more than 19 minutes of ice time, with a few key defensemen in Kris Letang, Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta out of the lineup. Ron Hainsey, acquired prior to the deadline to add depth to Pittsburgh’s blue line, saw more than 25 minutes of ice time versus the Bolts.
Pittsburgh’s trio of stars — Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel — was dominant. And Justin Schultz, acquired last season from Edmonton, continued his resurgence with a goal, his 10th of the season, and an assist.
While the Bolts had gone into sell mode at the deadline, dealing Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula, and opening up cap space ahead of the summer, they still had the chance to move, at least temporarily, within two points of the final wild card spot in the East on Friday.
But the Penguins have one of the most dangerous lineups in the league and they surged ahead after the Kucherov equalizer.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Sabres points leader Kyle Okposo will miss the team’s two games this weekend because of an injury to his ribs.
Coach Dan Bylsma did not reveal the nature of the injury and said it was too early to determine how long Okposo might be sidelined. The top-line winger had two assist before being hurt in the second period of a 6-3 win over Arizona on Thursday.
Buffalo hosts Tampa Bay on Saturday night and travels to play Pittsburgh the following day.
Okposo was the team’s top free-agent addition last summer and leads Buffalo with 43 points (19 goals, 25 assists) in 63 games.
This has been a busy week for Canucks general manager Jim Benning.
After a massive shift in the philosophy of the organization, made apparent when the Canucks traded Alex Burrows to Ottawa for 19-year-old prospect Jonathan Dahlen and then Jannik Hansen to San Jose for forward and 2014 first-round draft pick Nikolay Goldobin, Benning went out and added size to the club’s prospect pool by signing free agent forward Zack MacEwen of the Gatineau Olympiques to a three-year entry-level contract on Friday.
MacEwen turns 21 years old on July 8. He was never drafted. Size up the middle of the ice is the first element that naturally stands out, with MacEwen listed at 6’4″ tall and 212 pounds.
“Zack is a physical two-way forward who plays in the tough areas and competes with a high intensity every night,” said Benning in a statement.
“He has good hands especially for a player of his size; combined with an ability to deliver hard checks and stick up for his teammates, Zack is a difficult player to match up against.”
Per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, Vancouver wasn’t the only team interested:
There isn’t as much action on CHL kids because most get drafted before free agency is reality. One who has captured attention if Zack MacEwen of QMJHL Gatineau. Ottawa, Tampa, Toronto and Vancouver are all believed to be among those interested. He was invited to Anaheim’s camp last September
This season, MacEwen has 27 goals and 62 points in 59 games with Gatineau in the QMJHL.
More injury misery for the Dallas Stars.
Stars forward Antoine Roussel suffered a hand injury in Thursday’s loss to the New York Islanders.
And on Friday, Dallas coach Lindy Ruff confirmed the injury would keep the agitating forward out six to eight weeks, which essentially ends his season given the Stars are eight points out of the final wild card spot in the West, with only a 0.3 per cent chance of qualifying for the post-season.
Roussel is known more for getting under the skin of the opposition, reaching at least 100 minutes in penalties in four of his five seasons in the NHL. But he was enjoying what would’ve been a career-best season in production with 12 goals and 27 points in 60 games.
This has been a disastrous season for the Stars, particularly when it comes to injuries, which started to pile up pretty much from the beginning.
With Roussel out, the Stars called up forward Remi Elie from AHL Texas.
Meanwhile, there is also concern for forward Ales Hemsky, who returned to the Stars lineup on Thursday after a 62-game absence but then took a puck off the foot.
Per the Stars, Hemsky didn’t skate Friday but could be available for Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers.
“He had further tests this morning, and everything looks negative,” said Ruff. “There’s a little bit of concern about whether the swelling will allow him to get his foot in the boot and be able to play. Tomorrow will bring that answer. He feels like it is going to be OK, but he’s not really happy with me for putting him on the penalty kill.”