West update: Sharks are tonight’s only empty-handed team

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Tuesday’s six big Western Conference showdowns gave every contender a reason to keep their heads high to at least some extent – except the San Jose Sharks, whose shoulders must slump low.

The Sharks have now lost back-to-back games in regulation to start the week, as the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings flagrantly outplayed them. Tuesday’s game versus Los Angeles ended with a 5-2 win for the Kings that included a Jeff Carter empty-netter that really just made the score seem more fitting.

(San Jose allowed 40+ shots in both contests.)

Stars stand alone

The Dallas Stars stand above everyone else thanks to a big overtime win in an absolutely enthralling game against the Phoenix Coyotes, but that’s far the only important story of the night.

Smoking Semyon

Considering the fact that he’s gone 10-2-0 in his last 12 games, it might be fair to call Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov “Ilya Bryzgalov West.” Varly stopped all but one shot as the Avs squeezed out a 2-1 OT win against the Calgary Flames in a matchup of two playoff-desperate teams. (Interesting side note: Matt Stajan has been Calgary’s lone goal scorer in two straight games, which allowed them to salvage efforts with a charity point in each.)

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West outlook

Now that you’re updated on the nightly results, here is how the race for the final few spots looks:

3) Dallas: 84 points, 33 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

7) Colorado: 85 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and seven games left
8) Los Angeles: 84 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

9) Phoenix: 84 points, 30 regulation/OT wins and eight games left
10) San Jose: 82 points, 29 regulation/OT wins and nine games left
11) Calgary: 82 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and eight games left

Yup, that’s obviously as close as it gets. Perhaps the one bit of good news for the Sharks is that they’re not totally out of it yet – honest. Still, this is a huge turnaround, with perhaps the Kings grinning the widest.

  • The Coyotes might lose Shane Doan for a few games.
  • It’s possible that the Stars might lose their big star Jamie Benn if a rough contest against Phoenix did injure him.
  • They have a games remaining edge on the Colorado Avalanche and other edges on the Flames.

Either way, there’s no glossing over tonight’s big losers: the Sharks. In fact, Sports Club Stats places their playoff chances in 10th place at 37.7 percent – down a whopping 18.2 percent tonight – while Los Angeles is at seventh with 70.6 percent odds (up 10.1 percent).

Addendum: even if you say “Hey, the Nashville Predators lost to the Edmonton Oilers tonight,” the response is simple. If getting Alexander Radulov back isn’t a big win, then what is?

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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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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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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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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David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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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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Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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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.