Mike Halford

ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Minnesota Wild looks on during the game against Winnipeg Jets on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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Boudreau: Flames made ‘mountain out of a molehill’ over Gaudreau slash

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Calgary will face Minnesota tonight, for the first time since losing Johnny Gaudreau to a broken finger in a 1-0 win over the Wild on Nov. 15.

Much has transpired since.

The Flames were pretty upset about all the slashes Gaudreau took that night, and spoke candidly (and often!) about it. That, in turn, led to Bruce Boudreau offering up the following on Friday:

According to Calgary GM Brad Treliving, a third-period slash by Eric Staal was the one that did the damage, breaking Gaudreau’s finger and leading to corrective surgery, which sidelined him for six weeks.

The Slashgate conversation lasted for a while. Treliving acknowledged he later spoke with NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom about the club’s frustration regarding the incident.

“When you look at that game, it wasn’t the first one,” he said, per the Calgary Sun. “This wasn’t a unicorn that popped up in the middle of a period. By our count there were 11 chops on (Gaudreau) in the game.

“Two, three, four, I got it, but maybe at nine we dial it in a bit.”

In related news, the Wild have recalled 6-foot-4, 211-pound tough guy Kurtis Gabriel for tonight’s game, and it looks as though he could be making his season debut.

Colorado’s core is under heavy scrutiny, yet again

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: (l-r) Joe Sakic and Alan Hepple of the Colorado Avalanche attend the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Prior to Thursday’s loss to Columbus, Colorado GM Joe Sakic was asked how his core players have performed during an ugly 9-12-1 start to the year — “inconsistent,” he said — and was then asked he had any intention of breaking the core up.

“Not right now, no,” Sakic said, per the Denver Post. “It’s early in the year.

“I have faith in them, but to me, the start is not a core thing — it’s a team thing.”

Not long after Sakic said that, the Avs lost their fourth straight game, putting them on 19 points — tied with Arizona for the fewest in the NHL.

And then, in his first real bit of message-sending, head coach Jared Bednar took the core to task.

“I’m going to say this,” Bednar said in his postgame media availability. “Tonight, I thought our supporting cast did a real good job up front. I didn’t love some of our top guys tonight. Not that they didn’t work hard, but I didn’t love their game as a whole.”

The controversy surrounding Colorado’s core guys dates back to the Patrick Roy era. After missing the playoffs for a second straight year — which he called “unacceptable” — Roy unloaded on his top players in an April radio interview, saying “the core needs to show more leadership.”

“It was like this when I played for Montreal, it was like this when I played for the Avs,” Roy continued. “The core are the ones that have to carry the team. They’re the ones where, when you lose a game, it has to hurt from the inside. You should want more.”

At this point, it’s probably prudent to identify exactly who comprises the Avs’ core. The Post says it’s “generally considered to be six players, now all tied up to long-term contracts.” Six of the longest-term contracts on Colorado’s books belong to Nathan MacKinnon (signed through 2023), Erik Johnson (2023), Gabriel Landeskog (2021), Tyson Barrie (2020), Matt Duchene (2019) and Semyon Varlamov (2019).

Carl Soderberg, signed through 2020, could be seen as the potential seventh member.

Roy clearly wanted to move on from at least some of these guys, and the fact Sakic didn’t was a major reason why Roy abruptly resigned in August. But it wasn’t that Sakic just keep the core intact — he actually strengthened his commitment to it by giving Barrie a four-year extension this summer, at a time when many figured the puck-moving blueliner would be dealt.

In light of that, it’s not really surprising that Sakic came out yesterday and publicly defended his core guys.

He’s sticking to his guns.

For now, anyway.

Abdelkader out 2-4 weeks as another — yes, another — injury hits Detroit

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 15: Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Red Wings 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Injuries are a part of the game. But in Detroit, they’re becoming a fabric of the team.

On Friday, the Red Wings announced that burly power forward Justin Abdelkader would miss the next 2-4 weeks with a MCL sprain (per the Free Press), suffered in last night’s OT loss to Florida.

Abdelkader — who has four goals and eight points through 22 games this season — was averaging 16:26 TOI per night prior to getting hurt. He’d also been heating up lately after a slow start to the year, with four points in his last six contests.

As mentioned in the headline, this is just the latest in a series of injuries to hit the Wings:

Andreas Athanasiou has been out since Nov. 11 with a knee injury.

Darren Helm has been out since Nov. 17 with a shoulder issue.

Jimmy Howard hasn’t played since Nov. 25 due to a groin strain.

Alexey Marchenko was placed on IR last week with a shoulder problem of his own.

Brendan Smith is out four weeks with a knee injury.

Tyler Bertuzzi is out 3-5 weeks with a high ankle sprain.

The club is expected to make another recall from AHL Grand Rapids to fill the Abdelkader void. Leaning on the Griffins has been a common trend this year — in last night’s game against the Panthers, both Anthony Mantha and Ryan Sproul saw significant playing time.

Smith, Coyotes ‘very frustrated’ after blowing late lead versus L.A.

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Asked if he knew when he scored his last goal, Jordan Nolan put his head down in the locker room. He laughed a little.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Nolan said. “I don’t even want to look back on it. Just kind of forget about it and just move on.”

Nolan scored his first two goals of the season – and his first since April 2015 – to help the Los Angeles Kings edge the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 on Wednesday night.

“Just some puck luck, I guess,” Nolan said. “I feel like I got some good chances here and just fortunate to go in.”

Trevor Lewis scored the winner off a turnover with 4:05 left. The Kings withstood a late power play and an extra attacker to hold on for their sixth win in seven games.

Anze Kopitar had two assists and backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff, pressed into action to start the second period, faced 26 shots and made 25 saves.

Martin Hanzal scored twice for the Coyotes in the first period, with Michael Stone assisting on both. Mike Smith stopped 29 shots, but gave up two goals in the final 7 minutes.

“I thought he was unlucky,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Smith. “Made some great saves but was unlucky. I’m sure he’s very frustrated, just like the rest of us.”

The Coyotes pulled Smith for an extra attacker for the last 1:34, but couldn’t draw even.

The teams scored 9 seconds apart in the third period. Nolan’s second goal of the night came from a shot from behind the net that bounced off the back of Smith’s legs to give the Kings a 3-2 lead at 13:41 of the period.

“I see some of the top players kind of throw it at the net when they’re in the corner there,” Nolan said. “It goes in for them, so I thought why not give it a try?”

Arizona’s Tobias Rieder, who’d been a hard mark for Kings defenseman Drew Doughty for much of the game, took in a long pass from Alex Goligoski and got off a shot ahead of Doughty that beat Zatkoff at 13:50.

That set the stage for Lewis’ winner.

“We did a good job kind of weathering their push in the second and tied it,” Zatkoff said. “It was a gritty win. We probably didn’t play our best but it’s two points. Got contributions up and down the lineup.”

The Coyotes converted 2 of 6 power plays, the first successful power plays in the past five games. Nine of their last 10 games have been decided by one goal.

The Kings went 0 for 6 on power plays.

Forward Tyler Toffoli picked up two tripping penalties in the first 39 seconds of the game, the first which led to the Coyotes scoring their opening goal.

Toffoli was sent to the penalty box nine seconds into the game, and six seconds later, Hanzal deflected Radim Vrbata‘s shot into the net for a 1-0 Arizona lead.

Toffoli was whistled for tripping again at 39 seconds, but the Kings’ penalty kill unit prevented a second goal for those two minutes.

Los Angeles tied it at 12:25 of the first when Dustin Brown skated up ice, flipped a centering pass to Kopitar and got the puck back from Kopitar. Brown’s shot attempt was wide but it went to teammate Dwight King, who put the puck past Smith.

It was King’s fifth goal of the season.

The Coyotes went ahead 2-1 on Hanzal’s wrist shot that went off starting goalie Peter Budaj‘s stick and into the net at 18:32 of the period, again on the power play. Hanzal, with five goals, also has three two-point games this season.

Before that goal, the Coyotes, with Smith making several stops, thwarted a 5-on-3 opportunity the Kings had for 53 seconds in the first period.

Zatkoff got his first win as a King. He took over for Peter Budaj, who had four saves on six shots faced.

“Trying to win a game, right?” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of his move to go with Zatkoff.

The Kings drew even again with Nolan’s goal at 10:14 of the second. Nolan’s backhand shot eluded Smith for his first goal of the season and first since April of 2015.

NOTES: Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson played after leaving Tuesday’s game at San Jose with an upper body injury, and logged an assist. … Arizona’s Shane Doan passed Wayne Gretzky for 19th place on the NHL’s career list.

Sergachev highlights Russia’s World Junior camp invitee list

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Mikhail Sergachev celebrates with the Montreal Canadiens after being selected ninth overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Mikhail Sergachev, the talented blueliner taken ninth overall by Montreal at this year’s draft, headlines a list of 28 players chosen to participate in Russia’s World Junior training camp, per NHL.com.

Sergachev, 18, thoroughly impressed Habs brass during the exhibition campaign, and make the club out of training camp. He then proceeded to appear in three games for the Canadiens before GM Marc Bergevin sent him back to OHL Windsor.

With the Spits, Sergachev has seven points in his first 11 games.

He isn’t the only intriguing prospect named to Russia’s camp. Goalie Ilya Samsonov — taken 22nd overall by Washington in 2015 — is also there, and in the midst of a terrific KHL campaign. With Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Samosonov has 11 wins this year, with a 2.14 GAA and .934 save percentage.

Denis Gurianov, the forward taken by Dallas with the 12th overall pick in ’15, will also be at camp. Gurianov is currently plying his trade with Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas, where he has nine points in 19 games.

There is a fourth first-round pick in the mix as well. That’s German Rubstov, who Philly took at No. 22 this past June. Rubstov has split the year between the KHL and Russia’s junior league, and has emerged as a point-per-game player in the latter.