The second Claude Julien era in Montreal did not get off to a promising start on Saturday afternoon when the Canadiens dropped a 3-1 decision to the Winnipeg Jets.
It was a sluggish performance at times and that probably should have been expected given the circumstances. Along with playing their first game under a new coach, it was also the Canadiens’ first game coming off of their bye week, a situation that pretty much every team has struggled in this season.
Entering Saturday teams were only 3-9-2 in their first game after the bye. The Canadiens added another one to the loss column on Saturday even though they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to an Andrei Markov goal. That was pretty much the only highlight on the day for the Canadiens as they were unable to add to their lead and allowed Winnipeg to score three consecutive goals over the game’s final 36 minutes to take the win.
Joel Armia scored a beauty of a shorthanded goal to tie the game for the Jets at the 4:36 mark of the second period. The game remained tied until the 1:16 mark of the third period when Matthieu Perreault scored his fifth goal of the season to give the Jets the lead after an incredible individual effort from Dustin Byfuglien to fight through the Montreal defense and set up the goal.
Patrik Laine added an empty net goal, his 28th goal of the season, to put the game away later in the period.
With that goal and an assist on the Perrault goal Laine moved back into the NHL’s rookie lead for goals (28) and points (50) even though he has missed eight games this season.
He is on pace for 39 goals this season as an 18-year-old.
Dale Hawerchuk, Sidney Crosby and Steve Yzerman are the only three players in league history to score at least 39 goals as 18-year-olds in the NHL.
Montreal remains just four points ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the top spot in the Atlantic Division while the Senators (who have four games in hand on Montreal) could close that gap to two points on Saturday night if they can beat the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Canadiens have lost seven of their past eight games.
For the Jets, the win pulls them a little closer to a wild card spot in the Western Conference but they have already played three more games (at least) than every team they are competing with.
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.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.
“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”
Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.
TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.
The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.
“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”
The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.
Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.