Associated Press

Ducks use ‘best period of the year’ to down Stars

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Jakob Silfverberg enjoyed looking up at the scoreboard in the first period and seeing a big, crooked number next to the Anaheim Ducks’ name.

After a half-season spent in a profound struggle to score goals, the Ducks are finally finding their groove – and causing trouble for top teams like the Dallas Stars.

Silfverberg had a goal and an assist and the NHL’s lowest-scoring team blasted the highest-scoring team for four goals in the opening period of the Ducks’ 4-2 victory over the Stars on Friday night.

The Ducks shredded the Stars’ defense and goalie Kari Lehtonen in a stunning 12:32 stretch of dominance: After Silfverberg and Sami Vatanen scored 31 seconds apart in the opening minutes, Hampus Lindholm and Corey Perry scored 33 seconds apart later in the first. Defensemen Vatanen and Lindholm both ended lengthy goal-scoring droughts, while Silfverberg continued to pick up speed.

“They’re probably the most skilled team in the league … so it felt good to get off to a start like that against them,” said Silfverberg, who has goals in consecutive games after managing just three goals in the first 41. “It’s just a matter of working hard.”

Frederik Andersen made 22 saves for the Ducks, who have won seven of 10.

Ducks fans were still arriving when Silfverberg redirected Josh Manson‘s shot for his fifth goal 3:05 in. Vatanen added his sixth moments later, ending a 19-game goal drought since Nov. 25 for the offensive-minded defenseman.

“We felt we were doing the right things before the Christmas break,” Vatanen said. “We just couldn’t get the results. We’ve been working hard, and it’s paying off.”

Lindholm snapped a 31-game goal drought late in the first period on a power play, and Perry slammed home his 17th of the season shortly afterward. Anaheim entered the night with 12 fewer goals than the NHL’s next-lowest-scoring team. It scored four goals in a period for the first time all season and got four in a first period for the first time since Dec. 17, 2013.

“The first period might have been our best period of the year,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Mattias Janmark scored a short-handed goal and captain Jamie Benn had a power-play goal for the Stars. Dallas has lost six straight road games for the first time in five years.

Lehtonen stopped 31 shots and Dallas opened a three-game California trip with its fifth loss in six games overall. After having the previous five days off, Dallas fell out of first place in the Central Division with its loss and the Chicago Blackhawks’ win over Toronto.

“We didn’t deserve to win,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “We didn’t compete hard enough. They beat us up ice, and we didn’t backcheck. … You get outworked in this league, I don’t care how much skill you have. The workers overtake the skill guys.”

The defeat caused some frank self-analysis by the Stars, who have one road win in nine tries since Dec. 3. Benn said Dallas played “stupid hockey.”

“The teams that are winning right now are teams that want it more and are working harder,” Benn added. “We’ve had a tough time on the road lately, but it doesn’t mean we can’t come out here and work hard for 60 minutes.”

Janmark scored early in the second period on a breakaway set up by Perry’s poor pass.

Benn improbably hadn’t scored a road goal since Nov. 28. He ended the Ducks’ franchise-record streak of 34 consecutive penalties killed with the 26th goal of his spectacular season midway through the third.

“We just got what we deserved,” Dallas forward Vernon Fiddler said. “We don’t want to do the little things right. We don’t want to play defense. We’re turning pucks over, and we can’t recover. We’ve got to really take a look in the mirror here and find our game and find ourselves. It’s not just one or two guys. It’s everybody.”

NOTES: Ales Hemsky returned to Dallas’ lineup after a two-week absence with a lower-body injury. F Colton Sceviour was a healthy scratch, missing his first game since Dec. 15. … Jiri Sekac returned to Anaheim’s lineup and Chris Stewart was scratched. … Angels LHP C.J. Wilson attended the game.

Game 7 OT thrillers on NBCSN: Martinez sends Kings to 2014 Cup Final

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Hockey Week in America continues Sunday with Game 7 overtime thrillers.

In a back-and-forth affair, the Kings tied the Game 7 at four goals apiece in the third period to send the matchup into overtime. With a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line, Alec Martinez played hero for the Kings with the game-winner early in overtime, a role he would reprise in Game 5 of the Cup Final against the Rangers to clinch the title for the Kings.

Kenny Albert, Joe Micheletti, and Brian Engblom called the matchup from United Center in Chicago, Ill.

You can catch a replay Sunday on NBCSN at 12 a.m. ET.

SUNDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Kings vs. Blackhawks (Game 7, Western Conference Final, 2014 playoffs) – 12 a.m. ET on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

Game 7 OT thrillers on NBCSN: Goodrow clinches Sharks’ comeback

My Favorite Goal Goodrow's Game 7 OT winner Sharks Hertl
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Hockey Week in America continues Sunday with Game 7 overtime thrillers.

Vegas led the game 3-0 midway through the third period, before a major penalty that gave San Jose a five-minute power play. The Sharks scored four times on that power play to take a 4-3 lead, but Vegas evened the score in the final minute to force OT. In the overtime period, Barclay Goodrow scored the series-winning goal, helping the Sharks become the second team in NHL history, along with the 2013 Bruins, to overcome a three-goal deficit in the third period of a Game 7.

Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro called the action from SAP Center in San Jose, Calif.

You can catch a replay Sunday on NBCSN at 10 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SUNDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Golden Knights vs. Sharks (Game 7, Round 1, 2019 playoffs) – 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Kings vs. Blackhawks (Game 7, Western Conference Final, 2014 playoffs) – 12 a.m. ET on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

Game 7 OT thrillers on NBCSN: Bruins pull off comeback vs. Maple Leafs

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Hockey Week in America continues Sunday with Game 7 overtime thrillers.

The Maple Leafs held a commanding 4-1 lead in Game 7 in Boston midway through the third period, before the Bruins stormed back to force OT, punctuated by a pair of goals with their goalie pulled. Patrice Bergeron scored the overtime winner for a 5-4 victory, which marked the first time in NHL history a team overcame a three-goal deficit in the final period of Game 7 to go on to win the game and the series.

The late, great Dave Strader and Brian Engblom had the call at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

You can catch a replay Sunday on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET or watch the stream here.

SUNDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Maple Leafs vs. Bruins (Game 7, Round 1, 2013 playoffs) – 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Golden Knights vs. Sharks (Game 7, Round 1, 2019 playoffs) – 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Kings vs. Blackhawks (Game 7, Western Conference Final, 2014 playoffs) – 12 a.m. ET on NBCSN

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Week in America can be found here.

What is Taylor Hall’s future with Coyotes?

Taylor Hall Coyotets
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Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka said this weekend that he has continued to have some discussions with Dan Ferris, the agent for pending free agent forward Taylor Hall, but that they have not yet exchanged numbers in potential contract talks.

Instead, it has simply been a matter of trying to get their heads wrapped around the current situation — everything being on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and how it impacts both the Coyotes and Hall.

“It’s unique. I don’t have an answer for you other than to say, no, we haven’t exchanged numbers or anything like that,” said Chayka in a wide-ranging interview with the Athletic’s Craig Morgan.

“Obviously, our intent was always to get through the season and not having any conflict with Taylor’s play. This leaves us in a bit of a limbo where it’s obviously not technically the end of the season, but it also wouldn’t conflict with his play to talk. All I would say right now is that both sides are gathering information and having some discussions. Where that goes I’m not entirely sure today. As we talk, we’ll see where things go.”

The Hall-Coyotes storyline is going to be an interesting to watch unfold over the coming months because he could be one of the top players to hit the open market — whenever free agency actually begins — if he does not re-sign with the Coyotes.

The Coyotes acquired Hall from the New Jersey Devils in a mid-December trade. It was a fairly significant move at the time because Hall was the top in-season trade target in the league. He also gave the Coyotes the type of impact forward that they desperately needed to help drive their offense in an effort to make the playoffs.

While Hall has mostly met expectations (27 points in 35 games) things have not exactly worked out as the Coyotes hoped from a team perspective. When the 2019-20 NHL season went on hiatus they Coyotes were four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with several teams ahead of them. A big part of their tumble down the standings was injuries, specifically to their top two goalies (Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper).

The next step

In an ideal world the the Coyotes would almost certainly prefer to keep Hall. When healthy, he is an elite offensive player and the type of talent the franchise really has not had in more than a decade. He is an MVP winner, one of the most productive wingers in the world, and while he turns 29 next November he still probably has several outstanding years ahead of him as a top-line winger. They are not likely to find an upgrade or a better player anywhere else on the open market or as a realistic trade target.

There are, however, some obstacles.

The first of which is simply a matter of what Hall wants to do with his opportunity as a potential UFA. This will be the first time he has a chance to test the open market and probably his last chance to get a significant contract. Add in the fact he has played on just one playoff team in his career, and there has to be a lot of incentive to explore what is out there.

But there is another pretty big hurdle that may not get a lot of attention in this situation — the salary cap.

While the Coyotes salary situation tend to be a punch-line for people that don’t pay close attention to them, they actually have one of the largest salary cap numbers in the entire league right now, have some significant long-term investments, and do not have a lot of wiggle room under the cap in the near future. Considering that Hall is almost certain to be able to command something in the neighborhood of $8-9 million per season, there is going to be some extra work needed to make it all work.

MORE:
• Looking at the 2019-20 Arizona Coyotes
• Coyotes’ biggest surprises, disappointments so far
What is the Coyotes’ long-term outlook?

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.