Signs point to Datsyuk’s return Tuesday in Montreal


From Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:

Datsyuk says he’ll know tomorrow after the morning skate if he’ll play Tuesday evening in Montreal.

If he does return from his separated shoulder against the Canadiens, it’ll be right around the time he was originally scheduled to be ready (4-5 weeks, from Sep. 24).

The Red Wings (3-1-1) have done just fine without their star forward. They’re coming off back-to-back wins over Toronto on Friday and Saturday, while their only regulation loss was a close 3-2 decision versus Anaheim.

Franzen sat out Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury.

Bruins goalie Rask gets the hook in Montreal


Tuukka Rask was pulled in the third period of Thursday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, a rematch of last spring’s hotly contested Eastern Conference semifinal series and the league’s greatest rivalry.

Rask gave up five goals on 23 shots when he got the hook. The Habs trailed the Bruins in the second period, but scored three straight goals, including Brendan Gallagher’s deflection goal in the third, to take a 5-3 lead when Rask was taken out of the game.

Niklas Svedberg came into the game for Boston.

Lightning will test their might against Canadiens


After making some shrewd offseason moves, the Tampa Bay Lightning came into this fresh season as a chic pick to make a deep playoff run. That said, the Montreal Canadiens – aka the team that swept them from the 2014 playoffs – might have something to say about that.

With the two teams set to meet for the first time in 2014-15 on Monday, the Lightning seem more interested in testing their progress than getting “revenge” for that lopsided series, as the Tampa Bay Times reports.

“It’s probably going to be a good gauge for us,” Head coach Jon Cooper said. “Clearly, they’re setting the bar in the Eastern Conference. They’re kind of the team to beat right now, so I guess we’ll see where we’re at.”

It could be a nice test for two teams who haven’t provided themselves with large margins of error so far. Montreal trailed in all three of its wins so far and took two victories via shootout (including erasing a three-goal deficit against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday) while the Lightning went to overtime in both of their contests, winning one and dropping the other.

Tampa Bay will turn around and host a New Jersey Devils team that already scored 11 goals in its first two games – a torrid pace only matched by the Pittsburgh Penguins – so the Lightning could learn a lot about where they stand in the next 48 hours.

Fly away: Montreal erases 3-0 deficit, beats Philly in shootout


The Philadelphia Flyers managed to score the first goal of the game for the first time this season. They even took a 3-0 lead into the third period. Those facts might only make their 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens sting that much more, though.

Wayne Simmonds continued his hot streak on Saturday, extending a 1-0 Flyers lead to 3-0, but Montreal managed to swing the game completely in the final frame. Whatever reason you attach to the letdown – maybe the Flyers “sat on the lead,” perhaps the Canadiens just turned things up a few notches – Philly finds itself 0-2-1, wasting a 35-save night by Ray Emery.

Andrei Markov (one goal, two assists) and Tomas Plekanec (one goal, one assist) were two of the biggest catalysts for the turnaround. After the Flyers generated a 27-18 shot advantage through the first two periods, the Habs fired 19 shots to just four for Philadelphia in that 180 of a third period.

“Natural Stat Trick” might provide the best chart-based evidence, if you’re into that kind of thing:


That’s … drastic.

If that doesn’t bum Flyers fans enough, they might really struggle to put together wins for the remainder of this month:

Tuesday: vs. Anaheim
Oct. 18: at Dallas
Oct. 21: at Chicago
Oct. 22: at Pittsburgh
Oct. 25: vs. Detroit
Oct. 28: vs. Los Angeles
Oct. 30: at Tampa Bay

On the bright side, they do get a decent breather between Tuesday’s game against the Ducks and next Saturday’s trip to face the Stars. They’ll need all that time to gather themselves for some big challenges.

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Video: Canadiens win first game of 2014-15 season after wild finish in Toronto

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The first victory of the 2014-15 National Hockey League season goes to … the Montreal Canadiens.

And it was against one of their most historic rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, on Wednesday, as the new season officially got underway. The Canadiens, thanks to a goal from Tomas Plekanec with 43 seconds remaining in regulation time, defeated the host Maple Leafs by a final of 4-3.

That was the second goal of the evening for Plekanec.

The Leafs had tied the game with 2:19 remaining on a goal from Morgan Rielly, and it looked like this one might be headed to overtime.

“We’re a resilient group. I’m not surprised we came back so quickly,” Habs’ defenseman P.K. Subban, who also scored in the third period, told Arash Madani of Sportsnet.

Here’s the winning goal from Plekanec:

Now, here is the goal from Rielly, which looked for a time like it would send the game to overtime.