Early ride of the Zamboni – Friday, December 10th

Three of tonight’s six games have already come to an end, so let’s take an early ride on the recap Zamboni.

Detroit 4, Montreal 2

After losing two straight games at home, you had to think that the Red Wings would bring a focused (and angry) effort into this one against the Canadiens. They did just that, as Detroit answered an early Travis Moen score by rattling off three unanswered goals (Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk) to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. Benoit Pouliot made it interesting with a goal in the final frame, but a Patrick Eaves empty-netter sealed the deal for the Red Wings.

Both goalies were solid-to-great in this one, with Jimmy Howard stopping 36 out of 38 while Carey Price made 28 out of 31 saves. Howard (15 wins) now only trails Price (16) by one win for the league lead.

Ottawa 3, New Jersey 2

It’s still kind of difficult to believe it, but the Devils have become the team that you just need to win or you’ll feel like you left crucial standings points on the board. It’s even that much harder to believe that the same holds true when they start Martin Brodeur, as the future Hall of Fame goalie is now 4-11-1 this season after allowing three goals on 29 shots in this one.

The Devils scored both of their goals against Pascal Leclaire on the power play, but the Senators beat them 3-0 at even strength to improve their home record to .500 (8-8-1).

Colorado 4, Atlanta 2

It’s been a tough tour through the Southeast Division for the Avalanche lately, as they previous lost to Atlanta at home and Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida on the road in an unfamiliar road trip. They finally beat some unfamiliar foes tonight, as they took down the Thrashers in Atlanta 4-2.

This Avalanche win ended a five-game road losing streak for Colorado as well as a six-game home winning streak for Atlanta. Craig Anderson was able to nurse a 3-2 lead against fellow previously banged up goalie Ondrej Pavelec before Paul Stastny put it out of reach with an empty net goal.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.