While the Toronto Maple Leafs can take one point and some positives away from their first defeat of the season to the New York Islanders, the Dallas Stars have plenty to worry about after the Tampa Bay Lightning handed them a humbling (and misleadingly close) 5-4 loss tonight.
The Stars were getting away with allowing a lot of shots (an average of 38 per game including tonight’s ugly affair) – and plenty of power-play goals – so far in their impressive 4-0 run, but their luck ran out tonight. It’s almost as if the Lightning were angered by Toby Petersen’s short-handed goal, as the hard-charging group scored a stunning four out of five times on the man advantage in this game. Steve Stamkos was especially impressive in this one, scoring one goal and adding two assists to bring his season totals to five goals and nine points in only five games played.
A bad penalty kill is troubling enough, but that aforementioned tendency to get out-shot might be the most worrisome trend. As impressive as Kari Lehtonen can be, you’re not going to win many games when you give up 44 shots and only put 19 on the opposing goalie.
The second period was especially embarrassing for the Stars as the Lightning out-shot them 20-3 while widening their lead from 2-1 to 4-2. The stunning part is that Tampa Bay did this all without team captain Vincent Lecavalier, who missed the contest with a hand injury.
Dallas made a late surge in the third period after allowing their fourth PP goal of the night, as Brenden Morrow scored soon after and James Neal brought the game to within one goal with a minute left. This team clearly can fill the net with aplomb, but chances are pretty high that they won’t often produce four (or more) goals on less than 20 shots over the long haul.
The good news is that the Stars are still 4-1 even though they’ve needed great goaltending and an explosive offense to obscure some serious blemishes. The bad news is that they have a long way to go until they can match their elite record with elite, overall team efforts.
If nothing else, they should be awfully entertaining to watch if they can keep scoring at such a blistering rate, though.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.
Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.
Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.
Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.
The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.
Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.
After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.
Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.
MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.
But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”
Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.
“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”
Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.
Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.
Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.
The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.
Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.
Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.