Mike Halford

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NHL assist leader Hanzal day-to-day after exiting Coyotes’ win over Leafs

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Arizona center Martin Hanzal, who registered his NHL-best 10th assist in Monday’s 4-3 win over Toronto, is day-to-day with a lower body ailment after leaving midway through tonight’s contest, head coach Dave Tippett announced.

It’s unclear when the injury happened. Hanzal only played 5:39 in the opening period before being ruled out.

Despite that, the big Czech made the most of his ice time. Hanzal assisted on Max Domi‘s game-opening tally and looked to have scored one of his own moments later, only for referees to rule he high-sticked Michael Stone‘s point shot.

As the statistics suggest, this has been a banner start to the year for Hanzal.

The 28-year-old has occasionally manned the middle between Domi and fellow rookie sensation Anthony Duclair, providing veteran leadership and a stabilizing presence. And considering he’s never registered more than 27 assists in a single year, notching 10 in his first nine games is pretty impressive.

Hanzal’s health will be something to monitor moving forward, though. The Coyotes are off to a strong, and unexpected, 5-3-1 start, but could be in trouble if Hanzal and fellow veteran center Antoine Vermette miss significant time.

Vermette missed his second game in a row on Monday with a lower-body ailment of his own.

Down in Flames: Isles hand Calgary sixth loss in seven

Ryan Strome
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It was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions tonight in Brooklyn, as Islanders rode a two-goal effort from Frans Nielsen and 29 saves from Jaroslav Halak to beat the Flames 4-0 at Barclays.

For the Isles, it was their second straight win and sixth in their last seven.

For Calgary, it was their second straight loss… and sixth in their last seven.

The Flames are in a spot of trouble at the moment. They’ve scored just one goal over their last 120 minutes and the defense continues to be an issue, having been outscored 8-1 in New York (to the Rangers and Isles).

And it’s worth mentioning Calgary’s defense, because tonight’s starting netminder, Joni Ortio — the team’s third different starter through nine games — wasn’t to blame.

The Finn stopped 23 of his first 24 shots faced, but eventually succumbed to pressure as the Isles finished with 35 shots on goal.

As for New York, tonight’s game was an impressive effort, considering top liners John Tavares and Ryan Strome went scoreless. Halak notched his second shutout of the year while Cal Clutterbuck and Mikhail Grabovski chipped in with goals. Kyle Okposo and Nikolay Kulemin both notched a pair of assists.

Calgary only wishes it had such balanced efforts.

The NHL’s sixth-highest scoring team last season has just 16 goals through nine games this year. Sean Monahan has struggled, while prized rookie Sam Bennett and big free agent acquisition Michael Frolik are still looking for their first tallies of the year.

Calgary has a chance to salvage something from a mini three-game road trip Wednesday in Ottawa.

The Isles, meanwhile, will look for a third straight win on Thursday, when they host the ‘Canes.

Video: With dad in attendance, Domi scores first in Toronto

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Cool scene at the ACC tonight, where Coyotes rookie Max Domi scored his first-ever goal in Toronto, where his dad, Tie, played over 700 games for the Maple Leafs during a 12-year tenure.

The younger Domi was born in Winnipeg but grew up in Toronto, and went on to play for the OHL’s London Knights as well as Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the ’15 World Juniors.

Tonight’s goal was Domi’s fourth of the season and first on the power play, continuing what’s been a terrific freshman campaign.

The 12th overall pick in ’13 now has 10 points through his first nine games, moving past Connor McDavid for the lead among rookie scorers.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering:

D change: Oilers recall Nurse, put Reinhart on IR

Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse
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Darnell Nurse couldn’t crack the Edmonton roster out of training camp but, nine games into the season, he’s getting another shot.

Nurse, the seventh overall pick in 2013, has been recalled from AHL Bakersfield, the club announced on Monday. The 20-year-old is headed up to replace fellow d-man Griffin Reinhart, who was placed on IR.

It’ll be interesting to see how Nurse will be utilized at the big-league level.

Though he’s only got two games of NHL experience, he’s Edmonton’s best defensive prospect, and the club has had issues on the blueline thus far — eight different defensemen have dressed, with the likes of Reinhart, Andrew Ference and Brandon Davidson all platooning in and out.

The Oilers next play tomorrow night in Minnesota.

No hearing scheduled for Byfuglien after Pominville hit

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Winnipeg blueliner Dustin Byfuglien doesn’t have a disciplinary hearing scheduled after boarding Minnesota’s Jason Pominville on Sunday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

Byfuglien was given a boarding minor late in the third period for the hit, which left Pominville momentarily woozy but able to finish the contest.

Byfuglien, 30, has a history with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, having been suspended four games last year for a cross-check on Rangers forward J.T. Miller.

While he escaped supplemental discipline following Monday’s game, his Jets teammate wasn’t so fortunate. Alexander Burmistrov was fined just over $4K for his elbow on Minnesota blueliner Jared Spurgeon, a ruling that came down this afternoon.

The Jets are back in action tomorrow night, when they host the Kings at the MTS Centre.