The Buzzer: Blues keep rolling, a surprising hat trick, Ducks miss chance

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Players of the Night

Thomas Vanek, Columbus Blue Jackets: One of the more underrated trade deadline acquisitions has been Columbus’ pickup of Thomas Vanek from the Vancouver Canucks. He is averaging more than a point per game with the team and recorded a hat trick in their come-from-behind win on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets fell behind by three goals in the first 10 minutes then scored seven consecutive goals to rout the Oilers.

Brandon Tanev, Winnipeg Jets: Entering play on Tuesday night Brandon Tanev had scored just four goals in 55 games for the Winnipeg Jets this season. He had not recorded a point in 12 consecutive games and had just two in his past 20. All he did on Tuesday night in a 5-4 overtime win against the Boston Bruins was score three goals for his first career hat trick. Is that the most random, unexpected hat trick in the NHL this season? It almost certainly has to be.

Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues: As improbable as it seemed a little over a month ago, the St. Louis Blues now occupy the top wild card spot in the Western Conference. Vladimir Tarasenko scored the game-winning goal in overtime on Tuesday night to lift the Blues to a 3-2 win against the San Jose Sharks, extending their current winning streak to seven games. They have also won eight out of their past nine and are 9-2-1 in their past 12 games. A stunning turnaround given the trade of Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets and the number of injuries the team is currently dealing with.

Staal gets No. 40

The Minnesota Wild were losers in a shootout in Nashville on Tuesday night, but Eric Staal scored the lone goal for the Wild in the loss and in the process recorded the 40th goal of the season. He now has three 40-goal seasons in his career, making him one of just six active players in the league this season to have three of them. The others are Alex Ovechkin (nine), Steven Stamkos (four), Marian Gaborik (three), Evgeni Malkin (three), and Rick Nash (three).

Ducks let two points slip away

The Anaheim Ducks entered the night in the third playoff spot in the Pacific Division and a game against one of the NHL’s worst teams, the Vancouver Canucks. Seemed like a good opportunity to pick up two points and gain some ground in the playoff race, right?

Wrong.

They ended up scoring just a single goal and losing 4-1.

They remain one of three teams in the West tied with 91 points, joining the Blues and Kings.  They are just one point up on the Colorado Avalanche, the first team on the outside of the playoff picture. If the Kings get a point on Thursday night, and if Colorado beats the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, the Ducks could find themselves back on the outside of playoff picture this week. It is going to be an incredibly tight right between these four teams for those three spots.

The Panthers didn’t get any help

The Florida Panthers had the night off on Tuesday (they play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday) but it was still a tough night for them as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, and New Jersey Devils all gained points. The Blue Jackets and Devils were winners, while the Flyers picked up a point by losing in overtime to the Dallas Stars.

The Panthers still have several games in hand but they are now three points back of the Devils, five points back of the Flyers, and six points back of the Blue Jackets.

Their schedule the rest of the way is not easy with three games against the Boston Bruins, as well as games against the Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators.

Highlight of the Night

It may end up being too little, too late, but the Dallas Stars finally snapped their eight-game losing streak on Tuesday night with a 3-2 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was Alexander Radulov getting the winner on a 2-on-0 rush with Tyler Seguin.

Factoid of the Night

The New York Islanders are not going to the playoffs, they might lose John Tavares after the season, but they have another cornerstone building block in Mathew Barzal who is having an absolutely unbelievable rookie season. He continued it on Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators in their 4-3 win.

Scores

New Jersey Devils 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3

New York Islanders 4, Ottawa Senators 3

Detroit Red Wings 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

St. Louis Blues 3, San Jose Sharks 2

Nashville Predators 2, Minnesota Wild 1

Winnipeg Jets 5, Boston Bruins 4

Dallas Stars 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2

Columbus Blue Jackets 7, Edmonton Oilers 3

Vancouver Canucks 4, Anaheim Ducks 1

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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.

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.