Riding the Zamboni – Friday, November 19th (early edition)

Let’s take a look at the first five of Friday’s nine games. The rest of the contests will be summarized tomorrow morning.

Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 4 (SO)

Since this is just a regular season game, I don’t expect a ton of controversy to come from the league (or the game’s officials) decision to allow Chris Kunitz’s goal. Thankfully, the game didn’t rest on that choice, as Jussi Jokinen tied the game up 4-4 before the Penguins won the shootout thanks to goals by Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.

Crosby had one goal and three assists plus the shorthanded tally, Jokinen scored two goals and two assists, Kunitz had two goals and Evgeni Malkin assisted on three goals in that game.

Atlanta 5, Washington 0

Things came full circle for Ondrej Pavelec tonight, as he shut out the team he played against during that crazy collapsing incident. It was an important win for the collective psyche of the Thrashers, too, after coach Craig Ramsay called out the team after a recent loss.

Buffalo 4, Los Angeles 2

It seems like the Sabres are starting to put things together a bit now, while the Kings are now on a troubling three game losing streak. Ryan Miller seems like he’s rounding back into form after coming back from injury. Miller stopped 34 out of 36 shots to help Buffalo beat Los Angeles tonight, as the Sabres scored three unanswered goals to come back from a 2-1 deficit.

Minnesota 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

The Minnesota Wild are on a bit of a hot streak now – winning six out of their last eight games – but beating the Red Wings in Detroit (they’re now 8-1-2 at home) might be the highlight of their season so far. Jose Theodore had a great night, stopping 41 out of 44 shots while John Madden scored the game winner with 42 seconds left in overtime.

St. Louis 5, Ottawa 2

Things were going pretty badly for the Blues, but the struggling Senators were just the right tonic. The Blues went back to what made them a surprise elite team in October: great defense (backup goalie Ty Conklin faced only 20 shots, stopping 18) and scoring by committee (five different players scored their goals). Really, St. Louis won the game in an 86 second span in which they scored three times.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

    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.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

    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.