Jets, Preds, Knights and Sharks among teams to beat in West

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A team from the West has not won the Stanley Cup the previous three seasons, the conference’s longest drought in the 13-year salary cap era.

Before the Washington Capitals won it last year after Pittsburgh claimed consecutive championships, the West was usually the best, winning seven of 10 titles. Four teams seem to have the best shot to prevent it from being a four-year run without a Stanley Cup. And perhaps a few more have an outside chance.

”The West is like loaded right now,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said. ”It feels like anybody could not only make the playoffs, there’s going to be some unbelievable top teams that don’t make the playoffs.”

Winnipeg is stacked with talent from up front to the back and in net. And, the Jets are no longer off the radar after advancing to the conference finals for the first time. Nashville , which was eliminated by Winnipeg in the second round, won the Presidents’ Trophy with an NHL-high 117 points last season and has kept its strong and balanced team together.

The Vegas Golden Knights tried to improve their chances of returning to the Stanley Cup Final in their second season by signing free agent center Paul Stastny and acquiring forward Max Pacioretty. The San Jose Sharks made the boldest move, trading for two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson just before the puck dropped for training camp.

Poile said the talent-filled conference should be fun for players and fans, but not so much for coaches and the front office.

”It’s probably going to be nerve-wracking for us,” Poile said. ”If you’re going to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and I think the West certainly has more than its share of top teams.”

WINNIPEG

The Jets, who trailed only Nashville in points last season, have an elite team after years of patiently drafting and developing players. Winnipeg has so much young talent, including 20-year-old wing Patrik Laine, the time to win is now because it is going to be challenging next season to keep the team together and under the cap.

”Bring it on,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. ”There’s excitement. That’s what this all about.”

NASHVILLE

The Predators have one of the world’s best goaltender, reigning Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne. He may have the surrounding cast of hungry, experienced talented players to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in its 20 years after leading the league in points.

”Obviously things didn’t end up the way we wanted, but winning the regular season doesn’t give you much,” Rinne said.

VEGAS

The Golden Knights signed three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury to a three-year, $21 million extension over the summer. They can lean on his experience of helping Pittsburgh go from losing the Stanley Cup in 2008 to winning it the next year. Adding the leadership of Pacioretty and Stastny after losing James Neal was a smart move.

SAN JOSE

The Sharks’ shot to win it all for the first time in their 27-season history increased the moment they acquired Karlsson, one of the elite players in the NHL.

”That trade makes this team look a little bit more dangerous,” captain Joe Pavelski said, entering his 13th year with the franchise. ”And, a little bit more real.”

LOS ANGELES

The Kings, who hoisted the Cup in 2012 and 2014, tried to pry open their window to win by bolstering their offense by signing Ilya Kovalchuk. The 35-year-old winger is back in the NHL for the first time since 2013. Los Angeles should be able to compete every night with two-way forward Anze Kopitar, the reigning Selke Trophy winner, and standout goalie Jonathan Quick.

ST. LOUIS

The Blues missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2011, but they made a series of moves to give some help to forwards Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko along with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. St. Louis acquired center Ryan O'Reilly in a big deal with Buffalo, signed center Tyler Bozak and winger David Perron, who is back with the Blues for his third stint.

EDMONTON

Connor McDavid should give the Oilers an opportunity to win any game. The 21-year-old center, though, can’t do it alone as last year proved when the team missed the playoffs despite his career-high 108 points. Edmonton needs winger Milan Lucic and goalie Cam Talbot both to bounce back from lackluster seasons.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at https://twitter.com/larrylage

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    Predators-Avalanche postponed due to water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Friday’s game between the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche has been postponed because of a water main break that has soaked the downtown arena.

    The NHL said the water main break has “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.

    A makeup date for the  game will be announced later.

    Also, a decision on whether to postpone the Predators’ home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets will be made later.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue in Nashville for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They 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

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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.

    Carrier, Pietrangelo rally Golden Knights past Canucks 5-4

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Pietrangelo scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period and had two assists as the Vegas Golden Knights rallied past the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Monday night.

    William Carrier scored twice and Mark Stone had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights (15-4-1), who overcame a 4-2 deficit in the third. Reilly Smith also scored, while Jack Eichel and Alec Martinez each had two assists.

    Logan Thompson made 25 saves for Vegas, which had a go-ahead goal wiped out in the third but still kept pushing.

    “I don’t think that’s really how we drew it up,” Pietrangelo said. “A lot of emotions. Obviously we score and then it gets taken back. But I’ll tell you what, it’s not easy to win on the road and you’ve got to give credit to our group – we were resilient no matter what happened.”

    Vancouver (6-10-3) got a goal and an assist from Andrei Kuzmenko. Bo Horvat, Luke Schenn and Elias Pettersson also scored, and Quinn Hughes had two assists.

    Thatcher Demko stopped 33 shots for the Canucks, who gave up a multi-goal lead in a loss for the seventh time this season.

    “Inexcusable,” defenseman Luke Schenn said.

    “That’s nothing to do with systems or what the coaches are telling us. That comes down to battle and compete and, we’re getting outmuscled and outbattled in front of the net and in the blue paint,” he added. “Everyone just needs to be better in front of (Demko) there and that’s where games are won and lost.”

    Vegas appeared to take the lead midway through the third period, but the goal was disallowed because of a bizarre bounce.

    A clearing attempt by the Canucks hit the lens of a camera sticking through one of the media holes in the glass, knocking a piece of it onto the ice. Play continued at that end and Stone put the puck in the net. But after a video review, the goal was overturned and an official said the whistle should have been blown to stop play.

    About four minutes later, Pietrangelo did give the Golden Knights a 5-4 advantage when he collected a puck from Stone and sent a backhand past Demko from the low slot at 14:14.

    Vancouver scored three straight goals early in the third to go up 4-2 before Vegas roared back.

    “We let them score one, kind of changed the momentum quick and then they scored another one. So I don’t know,” Pettersson said. “We just can’t let that happen. It’s been happening way too many times this season.”

    Carrier made it 4-3 with his second of the night at 6:54, sending in a rebound from the top of the crease for his sixth of the season.

    “Once they scored one it was like, `Uh oh, here we go again.’ And we’re back on our heels and they came at us, and then they got three,” Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    Smith shoveled a puck into the Vancouver net at 8:57 to tie it.

    “We just win some pucks below their goal line and get it to the front of the net and force them to defend an area they haven’t done as good a job as they’d probably like this year there,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We didn’t do a very good job to start a third there, and then it snowballs a little bit. You have a little life and you get a couple more pucks to the net and a second chance.”

    ON A ROLL

    Horvat drew the Canucks even 1:47 into the third with a wrist shot from the hash marks. Vancouver’s captain has 15 goals, second-most in the NHL behind Connor McDavid (16). … Brock Boeser‘s assist on the first goal of the game extended his point streak to seven games (two goals, six assists).

    MARKING MILESTONES

    Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault played his 500th regular-season NHL game. Now in his 10th season, the 31-year-old center suited up for Columbus, Tampa Bay and Florida before Vegas selected him in the 2017 expansion draft. … Vancouver defenseman Ethan Bear made his 200th regular-season appearance.

    UP NEXT

    Golden Knights: Host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday in the opener of a three-game homestand.

    Canucks: Begin a three-game trip Wednesday at Colorado.