Devils’ Wedgewood needed ‘some NyQuil to fall asleep,’ but he looked calm in his NHL debut

Associated Press
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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Scott Wedgewood made his NHL debut on short notice, and it worked out great.

The 23-year-old Wedgewood made 27 saves and Devante Smith-Pelly scored the tiebreaking goal 8:38 into the third period to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The performance capped a whirlwind 18 hours for Wedgewood. He was sitting on a team bus after Albany’s AHL win at Utica on Saturday night when coach Rick Kowalsky told him he was being sent to the parent club and starting in a 5 p.m. game.

“I went to the back of the bus and tried to stay as calm as possible, calling my family and getting some plans in motion,” Wedgewood said. “Got home around 12 o’clock and had to take some NyQuil to fall asleep. Then we made the trip here this morning.”

His parents, two brothers and a sister in law made the game. Wedgewood looked like he belonged there, too.

“For a long time I had replayed this in my head,” he said. “I felt like it was just another hockey game, when it comes down to it. I felt I belonged here. Those things helped me step in and stay calm.”

Smith-Pelly provided the difference with his seventh goal in nine games in New Jersey. His forecheck on Nick Foligno forced the Columbus forward to send the puck around the boards. Devils defenseman Adam Larsson stopped it at the point and sent it to Smith-Pelly on the edge of the crease.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped his backhander but the Devils’ forward nudged the rebound into the net.

“I just got in front of the net and realized I had a little bit of time,” Smith-Pelly said. “I tried to make a move and I think it might have hit my leg. It was laying on the line. I just kind of dove and pushed it in.”

Reid Boucher also scored as New Jersey ended a six-game losing streak against the Blue Jackets (1-5-1), less than 24 hours after dropping a 6-3 decision in Columbus.

Jared Boll scored for the Blue Jackets, while Korpisalo made 20 saves.

Wedgewood, called up with Keith Kinkaid struggling playing every day for the injured Cory Schneider, made it stand up, with his last-second save on a slap shot by Brandon Dubinsky ending the game.

Both teams looked sluggish at times in their fifth and final meeting this season.

The Devils had the early spark, jumping to a 1-0 lead in the opening 4:32 on Boucher’s seventh goal of the season.

Kyle Palmieri, who scored twice on Saturday night, had his pass to Boucher tipped by a defenseman but the puck bounced forward off his knee. Boucher collected it and seemed to catch Korpisalo off guard with his shot from inside the left circle.

Boll tied the game 2:43 into the second period with his first goal of the season. Defenseman Dalton Prout wristed a shot from the right point that Blue Jackets’ enforcer tipped past Wedgewood.

The goal was originally credited to Prout but replays showed Boll tipped it for his first goal since Feb. 13, 2015.

“It would have been better with a win,” Boll said. “It feels good to contribute on the score sheet. When my line does that, it’s good things.”

The Devils had a chance to retake the lead later in the period when minor penalties to Prout and David Savard gave New Jersey a two-man advantage for 1:11. Travis Zajac had two hard shots from the left circle that Korpisalo handled.

Prout got a breakaway stepping out of the penalty box but he lost the puck making a move on Wedgewood.

“It was one of those games where both teams were trying to get that second one,” Blue Jackets coach John Tororella said. “We got impatient with our two D, and we give it up.”

NOTES: Wedgewood and D Vojtech Mozik were called up from Albany on an emergency basis on Sunday with the injury to D John Moore and Kinkaid struggling. G Yann Danis was sent back to Albany. … Columbus F Scott Hartnell played in his 1,100 NHL game. … Seven of the 20 Devils who played on Sunday played at least one game at Albany this season. … Devils F Tyler Kennedy left the game with a lower-body injury.

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.