Speed of Avs, Flames on display in first-ever playoff meeting

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DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames have never crossed paths in the playoffs.

Not in the days of Joe Sakic or Jarome Iginla (who later would become an Avalanche player). Not in the tenure of Bob Hartley (he coached both, including the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup title in 2000-01).

The first time certainly figures to be an edge-of-your-seat affair: Both teams are quick in transition and can fly up and down the ice. The Flames were 3-0 against the Avalanche this season and outscored them by a 14-10 margin, including a game on Nov. 1 in which they trailed 4-1 and scored five straight in the third to earn a 6-5 win.

Game 1 of what could be a track meet will be Thursday in Calgary .

”Both teams can skate. Both teams can make plays, have an in-your-face style,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ”So we have to be prepared for that.”

The Flames are coming off a season in which they accumulated 107 points to secure the top seed in the West. The last time they had at least that many points was 1988-89, when they won the Stanley Cup title over Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s a Calgary squad that features the likes of top scorer Johnny Gaudreau and a deep core of defensemen led by 35-year-old Mike Giordano . Coach Bill Peters hasn’t announced if he will start 26-year-old David Rittich or 37-year-old Mike Smith in net.

As for the pressure of being the top team in the West, the Flames insist they aren’t feeling any.

”We’re not worried about what others are saying,” Sean Monahan said on the team’s website. ”We’re worried about this group in here.”

Colorado was in desperation mode down the stretch thanks to an extended rough patch that started around Christmas. The Avalanche regrouped, weathered some injuries and locked up the No. 8 seed for a second straight season.

Last season against Nashville, they were simply glad to get in (the Avs lost in six games).

This season, they want to make some noise.

”We gave Nashville a lot of respect,” Nathan MacKinnon said. ”We’re going to give a little less respect and try to win the series.”

This provides a big boost: Mikko Rantanen, who’s been out since suffering an upper-body injury on March 21, will return to the lineup. In addition, Philipp Grubauer has found his groove while stepping in for Semyon Varlamov. Grubauer went 7-0-2 over his last nine starts.

Colorado is led on the offensive end by MacKinnon, who had 99 points this season – the same number as Gaudreau. In addition, Tyson Barrie ranked among the highest-scoring NHL defensemen with 59 points.

Now, it’s time to take it up another level. What exactly that entails, captain Gabriel Landeskog can’t quite explain.

”Maybe that’s exactly what it is – everything changes,” said Landeskog, who set an Avalanche record with 20 third-period goals. ”Everything is that much more intense.”

Things to know before the two teams meet in the postseason for the first time:

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: At 35, Giordano is coming off a regular season in which he was an NHL-best plus-39. He’s a contender for the Norris Trophy, which goes to the top defensive player. ”We have a good group in here, a really good team,” Giordano said. ”We’ve got to bring that confidence into Game 1.”

BEARDED WONDER: The playoffs haven’t even started and Sam Bennett already has an impressive beard. ”I shaved this morning and it already came back,” Bennett cracked. ”I have a bit of a head start on this one.” He may shave it down to a mustache.

BACK IN ACTION: Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson had to watch the playoffs last season after hurting his knee. It was a painful blow after helping build the team back into a contender. ”I love playing for this team, this city and organization, so I put a lot of onus on my shoulders,” said Johnson. ”It feels good to go back-to-back in the playoffs for the first time in a long time.”

BRING ON THE NOISE: Colorado is bracing for the noise inside the Scotiabank Saddledome. ”We’ve seen some loud buildings in the playoffs,” Landeskog said. ”Every single building is loud in the playoffs. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

FINISHING STRONG: Colorado went 8-0-2 late in the season to clinch a spot. Calgary closed out the regular season 9-5 after dropping four straight. ”We did a good job toward the end of the season, fought through a little stretch where we weren’t playing our best hockey and had a great finish to the year,” Gaudreau said on Calgary’s website. ”We’re excited to get the playoffs going.”

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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.