Deadline acquisitions Kane, Fehr helped spark ‘desperate’ Sharks

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) The San Jose Sharks head back to the Midwest for their final road trip of the season looking like a far different team than the one that stumbled its way through a tour of the Central Division just last month.

They have the midseason additions of Evander Kane and Eric Fehr to thank for that.

With Kane provide a scoring threat and physical play as a top-line wing and Fehr solidifying the fourth line and penalty kill, the Sharks are playing as well as anyone in the NHL down the stretch with a seven-game winning streak that is the team’s longest in five years.

During this streak, they have managed to win wide-open games as well as tight checking ones and have managed to negate the speed of teams such as Vegas as well as deal with more physical play like they had Saturday in a 5-1 win over Calgary.

“I think that’s something we’re trying to pride ourselves on,” defenseman Brenden Dillon said. “Playoffs you’re going to meet all sorts of teams, speed teams, teams that can play hard down low. I think we’ve got the personnel that we’re able to match up with those. We’re doing things in practice to prepare for them.”

The Sharks are in prime position with just two weeks left in the regular season. They have moved within six points of first-place Vegas in the Pacific Division with seven games remaining, giving them an outside shot at a division title. But perhaps more importantly, they entered Sunday six points ahead of Anaheim and Los Angeles in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round.

It’s a far cry from last March when a six-game losing streak cost San Jose a chance at the division title and the team was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by Edmonton. Now they’re playing their best hockey in March.

“We’re a desperate team,” Kane said. “We need all the points we can get. We haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet. The teams that are right behind us keep winning. We have to keep pushing forward and keep picking up points as we close out the season in order to secure a spot. It’s good to get in that playoff mindset right now.”

Kane has provided a major lift since his arrival in a deadline deal with Buffalo on Feb. 26. He has stepped onto the top line with center Joe Pavelski and provided a scoring threat and some needed toughness to help make up for the absence of Joe Thornton, who has missed two months with a knee injury. Thornton has started skating again, but there is no timetable for his return.

Kane has seven goals and five assists while helping the Sharks to a NHL-best 10-2 record since he arrived. The team is scoring 4.2 goals per game with Kane in the lineup after scoring just 2.8 goals per game before he arrived.

“He’s a crucial part to our team,” center Chris Tierney said. “You can see how much he brings, whether it’s the physicality side or the goal scoring. He adds a lot of depth to us and he’s been great for us so far. Just gives us an extra layer of everything.”

While Kane’s play has gotten most of the attention, the addition of Fehr just a week earlier has also had a big impact. Fehr has filled a hole at fourth-line center, allowing coach Peter DeBoer the freedom to roll through his lines without fear of mismatches, and added an accomplished penalty killer to a unit that ranks second best in the NHL.

That line has even provided an offensive boost of late, especially since Jannik Hansen moved back into the lineup alongside Fehr and Barclay Goodrow after Joonas Donskoi went down with a shoulder injury.

All three fourth-liners scored goals in a win last Tuesday against New Jersey and Hansen added another in the homestand finale on Saturday against Calgary after failing to score any goals in his first 39 games this season.

“It always helps when you’re helping out and you’re producing,” said Hansen, who was a healthy scratch for long portions of the season.

“It gets you momentum, it makes you feel good about the game. The puck doesn’t bounce as much, stuff like that. Obviously whenever we can chip in it’s a big part. We want to roll four lines and the fourth line is a part of that.”

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Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.