Forward-thinking: Avs defenseman Barrie chips in on offense

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DENVER (AP) — Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie has developed a reputation as forward thinking.

Easy to understand why: He’s constantly thinking as a forward.

His father was an NHL forward. As a kid, he was a forward. And now he’s chipping in on offense much like a forward.

Barrie has a goal and seven assists so far in the postseason. His first career playoff tally arrived Sunday in Game 2 at San Jose, helping the Avalanche send the second-round series back to Denver tied at a game apiece. Game 3 is Tuesday at Pepsi Center.

”I feel really confident in my all-around game right now,” the 27-year-old Barrie said. ”I like playing against other team’s top lines. I enjoy the challenge. The offensive part, I’ve got to keep trying to bring it.”

His first postseason goal Sunday showed off his offensive instincts: After Gabriel Landeskog‘s shot bounced off Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, Barrie jumped down low and sent a rolling puck into the corner of the net.

That’s Barrie being Barrie . He’s coming off a regular season in which had a career-high 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists), which was the most by an Avalanche defenseman since Ray Bourque had 59 in 2000-01.

”Tyson’s worked on his game over the last handful of years and gotten really good at creating offense, jumping up in the rush and making plays when he gets it in the O-zone,” Landeskog said. ”He’s also defending real well right now because first and foremost, that’s what a ‘D’ has got to do. No doubt, he’s got the skill of a forward and can make the plays.”

Pressing forward just runs in the family. Barrie’s father, Len, was a forward who played in 184 NHL games with Philadelphia, Florida, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles Kings. Len Barrie wound up his career with 19 goals and 45 assists.

Tyson Barrie actually was a forward until his teen years, which he credits for his moves now.

”If you grow up a defenseman your whole life, you’re not working on the toe drag or beating guys on offense,” said Barrie, who’s a native of Victoria, British Columbia. ”I always did that. I always made sure to really try to enjoy that part when I was playing hockey. I think it shows in the way I play. I like scoring and trying to beat guys one-on-one and stuff.”

Even with his switch to the blue line, his offensive skills remain firmly entrenched. He was the scoring leader among defensemen in each of his four full junior seasons with Kelowna of the Western Hockey League. The Avalanche selected the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Barrie in the third round of the 2009 draft.

He’s been assisting with the scoring load ever since. He became the highest-scoring defenseman in franchise history earlier in the season, passing John-Michael Liles. Barrie has 75 goals in the regular season along with 232 assists.

”He’s developed a skill-set to be an offensive threat on the ice,” Landeskog said. ”He’s getting rewarded for it.”

To be clear: Barrie doesn’t shirk his defensive responsibilities for the sake of sneaking into the offensive play. He’s developed a knack to know just when to rush into a play.

”Some of the plays he makes, they’re not high-risk plays, but he’s up the ice and making an impact offensively,” coach Jared Bednar said. ”Just good decisions on when to shoot, when to hang on. He’s getting pucks through to the net and been highly competitive on the defensive side of things, too, just his gaps and breaking up plays. He’s more physical down low.

”You can tell it matters to him – winning matters. He’s playing his hardest every night to make an impact in the game.”

Barrie had five assists against Calgary, including three in the series clincher. He also helped shut down Flames standout Johnny Gaudreau.

In Game 2 against San Jose, he had two assists to go with his goal.

”He’s been really good,” Bednar said. ”He’s certainly been a guy down the stretch that’s getting better and better. In the playoffs, he’s taken it to a whole new level.”

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Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.