Skinner focused on Sabres, not contract after being traded

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The trade to the Buffalo Sabres happened so suddenly, forward Jeff Skinner hasn’t had time to think about his contract status.

For now, Skinner is focused on becoming acclimated to Buffalo and his new teammates, rather than what might be in store for the three-time 30-goal-scorer once the final year of his contract expires next summer and he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

”Obviously, the last 24 to 48 hours have been pretty busy, and just trying to sort of get through everything that’s going on,” Skinner said during a conference call Friday, a day after the Carolina Hurricanes traded him to Buffalo.

”Honestly, I’m just excited to start the season,” he added. ”That’s what my focus is and where my focus is going to be for the next little while.”

In waiving his no-trade clause to approve the deal, Skinner agreed to swap one rebuilding team for another. While the Hurricanes’ nine-year playoff drought is the NHL’s longest active streak, the Sabres aren’t far behind at seven.

What excites Skinner is the opportunity to get a fresh start by playing with Buffalo’s young core, which includes center Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the first player selected in the draft in June.

”I think first and foremost, the young group of players they have: the core is exciting,” Skinner said. ”I’m excited to join those guys and be a piece of the puzzle.”

Buffalo gave up prospect forward Cliff Pu and three draft picks, including a 2019 second-round selection, to acquire the eighth-year player and 2011 NHL rookie of the year.

The 26-year-old becomes the latest addition in general manager Jason Botterill’s offseason overhaul to reshape a team that finished last for the third time in five years.

Skinner finished second among the Hurricanes with 24 goals, and fourth with 49 points in 82 games last season. He struggled defensively in finishing with a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-27. Overall, Skinner has 204 goals and 379 points in 579 career games.

He’ll be given a chance to fill a top-line role alongside Eichel. His addition helps offset the production Buffalo lost in trading second-line center Ryan O'Reilly to St. Louis last month.

Botterill said Thursday that it’s too early to begin contract talks just yet.

”Right now, our focus with Jeff is to make his transition into Buffalo as easy as possible for him,” Botterill said. ”We’ll talk about things such as an extension or contract down the road.”

Skinner became expendable on a Carolina team in the midst of a top-to-bottom makeover under new owner Tom Dundon, who declared no player untouchable but 20-year-old forward Sebastian Aho.

Aside from wanting to shake up the Hurricanes’ culture, GM Don Waddell said Skinner’s contract status also played a factor. Waddell had no contract extension talks with Skinner this offseason.

Skinner was aware of the speculation of being on the trade block but wasn’t sure he was going to be moved until being informed of the potential deal early Thursday.

Skinner said he enjoyed his eight seasons with Carolina, where he began playing months after the Hurricanes selected him with the No. 7 pick in the 2010 draft. What disappointed him was the team’s inability to make the playoffs.

”It’s frustrating for sure not sort of reaching your goal,” Skinner said.

”But I think when you look at it, sort of moving forward on that basis, it’s exciting for me,” he added of the move to Buffalo. ”And that’s the way you look at it is that it is going to be a fresh start.”

Skinner said an added bonus to the trade is the opportunity to play closer to his hometown of Toronto, a two-hour drive from Buffalo.

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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.