Believe it or not, there are actually two games that will take place as the league sorts itself out after a relatively tepid trade deadline. The best part is that both of these contests have serious playoff implications to boot. It’s unclear if the two biggest trade acquisitions from the four teams (Dustin Penner for the Los Angeles Kings and Chris Campoli for the Chicago Blackhawks) will play, so we’ll make an educated guess that the two teams will be without those additions.
(Note: Penner might have the best chance of playing because the Wings-Kings game starts late, but all we know right now is that he will wear No. 25 in Los Angeles.)
As always, all start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Chicago @ Minnesota
The Blackhawks are coming off an impressive and emotional win at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, but this game is even bigger. In fact, this contest is huge for both teams, as both the Hawks and the Wild hold identical 33-23-6 records for 72 points. With two games in hand and only one less point, both teams could actually pass the Calgary Flames if it ends up being a three-point contest.
The Hawks come in red-hot, having won four in a row. Jonathan Toews has been playing especially well this month, notching an impressive 18 points in 12 February games. These are the kind of moments that great players seize, so can Captain Serious lead what might be a tired Chicago team past the pesky Wild?
Detroit @ Los Angeles
As hot as the fifth place Kings have been, they are only two points ahead of the teams racing for eighth and only three in front of the hated 11th-place Anaheim Ducks. The Red Wings have less to lose being that their current focus is catching the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the West.
Something must give for Detroit though, as they’re hoping to maintain a five-game road winning streak and snap a four-game losing skid against Los Angeles. One of those trends will be broken tonight.
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.”
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.
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.
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.