Hurricanes pass Thrashers for eighth spot in East by beating them in OT thanks to Erik Cole end-to-end goal

It seems like the Carolina Hurricanes make a late-season playoff surge every other year. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but judging from the last month of action, that reflexive assumption seems to have at least some merit.

The Canes leapfrogged the Atlanta Thrashers into the Eastern Conference’s top eight with a dramatic home win tonight. Zack Bogosian scored a power-play goal to send the game into overtime and gain Atlanta at least one point, but Erik Cole scored the overtime winner on an end-to-end rush.

Carolina 4, Atlanta 3 (OT)

Cole should be commended for that effort, as he’s showing glimpses of his former power-forward-of-the-future self, but Ondrej Pavelec cannot be happy about the goal he allowed. Erik Erlendsson went as far as to compare Pavelec to KHL exile (and former Canes goalie) John Grahame on the play. Ouch.

Atlanta must be frustrated with this one, as the two teams produced a 2-2 third period despite the fact that the Thrashers out-shot the Hurricanes 14-3 in the final frame. Pavelec and Dustin Byfuglien are probably the team’s MVPs this season, but the young goalie might have been a bit of goat tonight. It happens.

The Hurricanes and Thrashers are tied for 58 points, but Carolina has two games in hand and two mores wins (26 to Atlanta’s 24). That’s obviously a small margin of error – especially in a season brimming with maddening tide changes – but Eric Staal’s bunch have been trending up while the Thrashers are plummeting right now. Atlanta GM Rick Dudley might be wise to make a move or two to try to reverse his team’s backslide.

If Atlanta and Carolina engage in a two-team race for one of the last playoff spots, it could be an awfully fun contest to watch.

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    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.