Kempe, Kings cream Ducks; Grosenick wins first start since 2014

While games in hand muddy things, the Kings came into Wednesday with only four more standings points than the Ducks. After a one-sided win for the Kings, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles has a chance to the make the playoffs, while the Ducks probably can’t wait for 2020-21 to end.

In particular, this is looking more and more like a very long season for embattled star Ducks goalie John Gibson.

Yes, Gibson’s allowed three goals or more in 10 consecutive starts. But, really, look at how the Ducks hung Gibson out to dry on goals like these, and you’re reminded that it’s not his fault.

Kempe keeps it up

Heading into this season, Adrian Kempe‘s career-high for goals was 16, and his best points total is 37. Despite this being a pandemic-shortened season, Kempe might find a way to reach new peaks in both areas.

At minimum, this is the hottest streak of Kempe’s career. After generating a hat trick against the Ducks on March 8, he almost did it again on Wednesday (March 10).

Kempe ended up settling for two goals, extending his goal streak to three games (six goals). With that, Kempe matched last season’s goal total of 11.

It was really a total team offensive effort, with Anze Kopitar and others shining in a game where the Kings looked far, far ahead of the Ducks.

Troy Grosenick the other big story of Kings – Ducks

Six years, three months, and 22 days. That’s how long Troy Grosenick waited between NHL starts.

You could make some arguments that Grosenick never should have waited that long.

For one thing, Troy Grosenick pitched a 45-save shutout in his NHL debut, blanking the Carolina Hurricanes while the goalie was with the Sharks. It was quite the emotional moment for Grosenick’s family:

He’d only end up playing in two games for the Sharks in November 2014, and since had only appeared in the AHL. Again, he probably should’ve stumbled upon another chance or two since then, though.

In 2019-20, Grosenick generated a .920 save percentage for the Milwaukee Admirals, and he managed a .919 save percentage the AHL season before that.

You’d think the goalie-deprived Sharks would’ve given Troy Grosenick a chance in 2016-17, in particular. Grosenick put together a 30-10-2 AHL record that season while sporting a .926 save percentage.

Either way, Grosenick played brilliantly for the Kings, who were without Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen. Making 33 out of 34 saves is impressive, even if the Ducks looked dismal at times on Wednesday.

Maybe Grosenick will get more than a couple chances to prove himself as an NHL goalie this time around? (Frankly, if the Kings can give him a chance, they should probably find someone else who will. Maybe, um, the Sharks?)

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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    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.