The Buzzer: Golden Knights thankful for Hague; NHL action from Friday

The Buzzer: Golden Knights thankful for Hague on Friday
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Three Stars

1. Nicolas Hague, Vegas Golden Knights

When Nicolas Hague scored just 50 seconds into the Golden Knights’ dominant win over the Kings, some fans probably thought: “Who is Nicolas Hague?”

Fair, but it’s not as though Hague is a total random. The Golden Knights picked Hague 34th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, making him an almost-first-rounder. In Corey Pronman’s list of the top 155 players under 23 (sub required), Hague ranked 87th, in the “very good NHL player” tier. That ranking came as recently as October. Not a total jobber, in rasslin’ parlance.

All of that aside, it was stunning that Hague collected his goal and two assists during Vegas’ surge to 4-0 just 1:35 into the second period. So far this season, Hague generated a single assist in four games, averaging a modest 13:34 TOI. Back in 2019-20, Hague produced one goal and 11 points over 38 regular-season games, logging 16:05 per appearance.

In Friday’s game, Hague understandably received 20:41 time on ice. It will be interesting to see if Hague receives at least a temporary boost in ice time from the Vegas Golden Knights after this performance. (With Alex Pietrangelo out of commission, why not?)

Either way, if all 6-foot-6 of Hague could ever slip under the radar, the Golden Knights defenseman got some attention from the NHL after this performance.

2. Max Pacioretty/William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights

OK, let’s consolidate Friday’s dominant Golden Knights not named Nicolas Hague into one star to make it fair to the rest of the night’s featured acts.

Really, with Pacioretty or Karlsson, it’s a matter of taste (and some might rank one or both of them as the superior Golden Knights star over Hague*).

In most instances when a player racks up seven shots on goal but doesn’t score a single goal, you’d call it a frustrating night. Maybe Max Pacioretty wished one of his three points ended up being a tally, but three assists is quite the effort. After collecting a hat trick before the Golden Knights’ COVID delay on Jan. 26, “Patches” pushed his streak of three-point nights to two games. Impressive stuff.

Again, some might be more impressed with William “Wild Bill” Karlsson, instead. Karlsson also collected three points (1G, 2A) off of four SOG, and managed to go 13-6 on faceoffs. All three Golden Knights listed (Hague, Karlsson, and Pacioretty) finished with +2 ratings on Friday.

* – To that, I ask: where’s your sense of novelty? Sheesh.

3. Andrei Vasilevskiy

After cruising in their last win over the Red Wings, the Lightning had to bite their nails a bit more on Friday. Sure, the final score was 3-1, but that deficit was inflated by a Barclay Goodrow empty-netter (his second goal of the night).

In particular, the Lightning called upon Vasilevskiy to be sharp early on. The Red Wings fired 24 of their 28 SOG against the Lightning during the first two periods (a neat 12 SOG per 20 minutes). Vasilevskiy made 27 of 28 stops, improving to 7-1-1 on the season. Vasilevskiy’s managed an impressive .931 save percentage so far in 2020-21.

NHL Highlight of Friday night

Wins aren’t going to be easy for Thomas Greiss to come by. Not after he left the nurturing cocoon of the Islanders’ system for the rebuilding structure of the Red Wings. He might help them stay in games here and there, though, and saves like these remind us why.

(Underrated subcategory of save highlights: the “leg or legs up like a teenager talking to their crush on the phone while laying on their belly” stops. Admit it, that’s what that save was.)

Friday night NHL fight

Connor Clifton vs. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, for your violent viewing pleasure:

NHL scores

Bruins 2, Flyers 1
Lightning 3, Red Wings 1
Panthers 2, Predators 1
Golden Knights 5, Kings 2
Sharks 5, Ducks 4 (SO)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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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.