Blues basically beat Kings at their own game last night

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ST. LOUIS (AP) Jaden Schwartz had let enough chances slip by this season.

Jake Allen stopped 27 shots and Schwartz scored early in the third period, leading the St. Louis Blues over the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Saturday night.

Schwartz scored 3:43 into the third off a pass from Jori Lehtera, swiping the puck from in front past goalie Peter Budaj.

“It’s nice seeing it go in. I’ve been missing too many,” Schwartz said. “It was a huge play. I got it off my stick as quick as I could. I wanted to rip that one. I’ve had some this year and missed.”

Allen got his first shutout this season and the 12th in his career.

“You just keep playing your game and try not to let anything faze you,” Allen said. “If you need a shutout, so be it, but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. It’s just sort of one minute at a time.”

Schwartz got the first goal by a Blues forward in 169 minutes, 22 seconds. Vladimir Tarasenko also assisted on Schwartz’s first goal of the season.

Los Angeles challenged the play for offsides, but the goal was upheld.

Budaj had 24 saves. He had won five straight dating to last season.

“I think it’s just sometimes good players make a good play,” Budaj said about the goal. “It’s a nice play for them, give credit to them. Sometimes you get bounces and sometimes you don’t.”

Before Schwartz’s goal, the action was sparse in a hard-hitting game. Los Angeles had just 10 shots in each of the first two periods, and the Blues had 13 shots after two periods.

“This was no day at the beach for either team, this type of game,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “This was a heavy, hard, well-played hockey game.”

The Blues have had just one goal in five of their last six games.

“We’re playing kind of like Italian soccer, 1-0, good defense, and it’s just one goal,” Lehtera said. “It’s enough.”

St. Louis has won three in a row against the Kings, who entered play with a four-game winning streak – three in overtime and one in a shootout.

The Kings failed to score on five power-play opportunities. For the season, St. Louis has killed 30 of 32 power plays.

“Killing penalties is just work,” Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. “At the end of the day, your goalie is your best penalty killer and Jake’s been coming up with some big saves.”

The Blues did not score on four chances with an extra man.

Los Angeles defenseman Braden McNabb left early in the third period with an upper body injury and did not return.

NOTES: St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo has a lower body injury and will be evaluated in 10 days. Bortuzzo was injured early in the third period in Thursday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Detroit. Bortuzzo was skating to the bench after serving a minor penalty and collided with a Red Wings player. … This game was the only regular season meeting for the teams in St. Louis. The other two games will be played in Los Angeles. … The Blues announced Bob Plager’s No. 5 would be officially retired. Plager will join Al MacInnis, Bob Gassoff, Brian Sutter, Brett Hull, Bernie Federko and his brother, Barclay Plager, as the only players to receive the honor from the Blues. Plager was recognized during the first period. The official ceremony featuring the banner with his number raising will take place Feb. 2 when the Blues host the Toronto Maple Leafs. … Bouwmeester skated in his 999th regular season game.

UP NEXT:

Los Angeles: Play at Chicago on Sunday.

St. Louis: Play at the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

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    Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

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    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

    The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

    Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

    Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

    Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

    The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

    Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

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    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

    Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

    These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

    In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

    “Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

    Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

    “He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

    Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

    “I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

    Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

    “I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

    Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

    “I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

    Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

    The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

    One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

    “It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

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    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

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    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.