Lamoriello juggles keeping Isles intact and signing Barzal

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Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is hoping he can keep his roster mostly intact while knowing he still must re-sign star forward Mathew Barzal, despite having limited room under the NHL’s flat salary cap.

In saying he’s exploring every possible option, Lamoriello on Tuesday wouldn’t completely rule out what he called “a last resort” of having to part ways with a core player or two.

Without going into detail, he added: “But I’m reasonably comfortable that we’ll be able to accomplish what we want to accomplish and have the team that we want to put on the ice once the season starts.”

It might take some juggling for the NHL’s GM of the year.

The Islanders, coming off their first conference final appearance in 27 years, are projected to be about $10 million under the $81.5 million cap, which remains unchanged from last season.

Barzal, meantime, is a restricted free agent and expected to command a hefty raise after recording 19 goals and 41 assists in 68 games to reach the 60-point mark for a third consecutive season. The 23-year-old then put on a dazzling display with five goals and 12 assists in the playoffs.

Aside from Barzal, defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are also unsigned restricted free agents. The Islanders also stand to lose other contributors with forwards Matt Martin and Derick Brassard, goalie Thomas Greiss and late-season addition, defenseman Andy Greene, eligible to become unrestricted free agents on Oct. 9.

Lamoriello said he’s had discussions with his restricted free agents since New York was eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final on Sept. 17.

“I feel we’ll get all of our players signed in due time,” he said.

The Islanders took a major step forward in their second season under Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz. New York advanced past the first round for just the third time since 1993, and did so in consecutive years for the first time since a seven-year run spanning 1979 to ’85.

In finishing seventh in the East when the regular season was paused because of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, the Islanders were the only team to compete in the best-of-five preliminary round to reach the conference finals. New York eliminated Florida (3-1), Washington (4-1) and Philadelphia (4-3) before running out of gas against the Lightning.

The Islanders featured a balanced scoring attack in which nine players finished with 10 or more points. Though Semyon Varlamov had the bulk of the goaltending duties in finishing 11-7, Greiss contributed with two wins, including a 16-save outing in New York’s 4-0 win over the the Flyers in Game 7.

Lamoriello was impressed by what he saw, and expects the Isles can build upon the experience.

“There’s room for improvement internally,” he said. “If we can get better externally, we’ll certainly try doing that. But right now, we’re going to focus in on trying to keep our team together.”

INJURY UPDATE

Lamoriello said forward Casey Cizikas (retina) and Tom Kuhnhackl (upper body) and defenseman Adam Pelech (wrist) all had successful surgeries and are on track to be ready for the start of next season. Kuhnhackl is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent.

WAITING OUT THE DRAFT

Barring a trade, the Islanders will have to wait until the third round, and 90th overall pick, before making their first selection of the draft next week. New York gave up its first- and second-round picks this year, and a conditional third-round selection in 2022, to acquire Jean-Gabriel Pageau in a trade with Ottawa in February.

Lamoriello believes the trade paid off, given the two-way forward had eight goals and 11 points during the playoffs. The Islanders’ deep playoff run also decreased the cost of the trade, with Ottawa getting New York’s 28th and 59th overall selections.

FREE AGENT FRENZY

With the salary cap expected to stay frozen for the next two seasons, Lamoriello anticipates a glut of players hitting the free-agent market, including restricted free agents whose rights aren’t retained because teams have to cut salaries. “I think there’s going to be more players available than people think,” he said.

COLISEUM CONFIRMATION

Lamoriello confirmed the Islanders will play their home games at Nassau Coliseum, before moving into their new home, UBS Arena at Belmont Park, which is scheduled to open for the 2021-22 season.

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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

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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.