The Buzzer: Milestones for Malkin, Ovechkin, Kane (Monday in NHL)

The Buzzer: Milestones for Malkin, Ovechkin, Kane (Monday in NHL)
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NHL Three Stars from Monday

1. Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators

Plenty of teams have made life tougher for the Predators lately, but the Lightning seemed to dig those knives in the deepest. In an oddly timed Monday game, the Predators gained a measure of revenge.

Two Predators led the charge most of all. Calle Jarnkrok was one of them, generating a goal and three assists for a four-point outburst, standing out as the top star of Monday in the NHL.

Jarnkrok has five of his 13 points this season over the last two games, and six in his past five. Nashville would probably prefer to spread out such production to help spell the likes of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Matt Duchene, and Filip Forsberg. At this point, they’ll take it, though.

Other Predators chipped in, including recent trade rumor magnet Mattias Ekholm, who scored an empty-netter and also provided an assist.

Ultimately, Pekka Rinne‘s the other Predators player who could take this spot from Jarnkrok. The veteran stopped 38 out of 39 shots. If Rinne wasn’t so sharp, this could’ve been close, if not a win for the Lightning.

(Honestly, it’s a little surprising that Rinne might not be trade fodder. If he’d absolutely not want one, fair enough. Yet, if he’d have some interest in chasing a Stanley Cup, shouldn’t he get the Ray Bourque treatment, including Predators fans cheering him on in another uniform? Going to bang this drum until mid-April, even if most put me on mute.)

2. Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins

As strong a Monday performance as Rinne produced, Tristan Jarry takes the cake for goalies across the NHL. Jarry stopped 42 out of 43 shots to frustrate the Bruins in the Penguins’ latest win.

While other pieces of the Penguins draw understandable attention, Jarry’s bounce-back should receive some spotlight. He’s now on a four-game winning streak where he’s allowed three goals once, two goals twice, and one goal in this last performance.

Jarry’s on an upward trend when you zoom out, too, although his .906 save percentage this season still remains mediocre. Jarry’s won six of seven, and nine of his last 11 games.

When Jarry was struggling, it was easy to question the Penguins’ decisions. But this is a goalie who put up a strong .921 save percentage over 33 games (20-12-1) last season. There was some reason to believe in him, and he’s showing why lately.

Jarry and Rinne weren’t the only standouts among NHL goalies on Monday. Thatcher Demko (44 saves) and Carey Price (34) were also strong in winning efforts. (They either allowed more goals and stopped more shots, thus just falling short.)

3. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens

Sheesh, remember when Tyler Toffoli was a valuable forward who couldn’t seem to finish the many chances he created? Now he’s just … finishing them. If he keeps this up, he might get some kind of “Mortal Kombat”-themed nickname.

With two goals and one assist in the Habs’ win against the Jets, Toffoli earns another spot on the three stars of the night.

The shrewd forward bumped his season totals to 17 goals and 26 points in 28 games.

To put that in perspective, Toffoli’s career-high is 31 goals, the only time he reached the 30-goal level. During that same 2015-16 season, he scored a career-high 58 points with the Kings. (His second-highest total is 49 points.)

Over an 82-game season, Toffoli would be on pace for almost 50 goals and about 76 points.

So, this is new territory for Tyler Toffoli. Still, for those of us that noticed that he was a better player than his goals and assists indicated, it’s nice to see him just kick down the door, and make it all so clear. He’s really good.

(Probably not explosive enough to flirt with a point-per-game each season good … but very good.)

Honorable mentions

  • Jakub Voracek generated his own three-point night, scoring an overtime winner where he seemed to have endless time. In that same Flyers win, Artemi Panarin scored three points during the second period. If his Rangers teammates completed on another Panarin-produced-point-opportunity, Panarin might have been in the three stars for Monday in the NHL.
  • Like Panarin and Voracek, Aleksander Barkov scored three points (also 1G, 2A). Barkov’s Panthers stayed hot to beat the Blackhawks 6-3.

Highlights from Monday in NHL:

Perhaps Kevin Lankinen‘s Calder Trophy buzz is cooling off. He’s still making sweet saves like these, nevertheless:

Flyers – Rangers supplied plenty of highlights, including a nice Carter Hart save. Check them out in these extended clips:

Sutter’s Flames stay hot vs. Oilers, Battle of Alberta nastiness

It’s early, but the Flames have won all three games under Darryl Sutter. This is probably not like he drew it up, though, as there were stretches of explosive scoring.

And there were also stretches of explosive violence.

Brett Ritchie won a one-sided fight with Jujhar Khaira. As you can see toward the end of that video, the Ritchie – Khaira fight followed a very bad hit by Khaira.

The Flames and Oilers face off again on Wednesday. As much as the NHL loves rivalries, and the Battle of Alberta is alive and well, they might want to keep an extra eye on that action. It’s fair to wonder if Khaira might miss that one — whether it be for supplemental discipline, or an injury.

Milestones for Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kane

  • As you can see in this post, Alex Ovechkin scored the 717th goal of his career, thus tying Phil Esposito for sixth all-time in NHL history. He also contributed to dark times for the Sabres.
  • Speaking of Ovechkin (and Sidney Crosby), here’s some interesting perspective on Evgeni Malkin reaching the impressive 1,100 point mark.

Imagine if Malkin (and Crosby, for that matter) were able to stay healthy like Ovechkin and other especially durable NHL stars? As is, still … extremely impressive.

  • Patrick Kane reached 1,064 points, moving to fifth all-time among U.S.-born NHL players. Keith Tkachuk (1,065) is right around the corner, while it could take a while to catch Jeremy Roenick (1,216) for third place.

Monday’s NHL scores

Predators 4, Lightning 1
Flyers 5, Rangers 4 (OT)
Penguins 4, Bruins 1
Panthers 6, Blackhawks 3
Canucks 3, Senators 2 (OT)
Capitals 6, Sabres 0
Canadiens 4, Jets 2
Flames 4, Oilers 3
Golden Knights 2, Sharks 1

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

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    Golden Knights take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final with 7-2 win over Panthers

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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    LAS VEGAS – Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and started an early blitz that chased the NHL’s hottest postseason goalie, and the Vegas Golden Knights seized control of the Stanley Cup Final with a 7-2 victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 2 on Monday night.

    Adin Hill continued his stellar play in net with 29 saves for the Golden Knights, who grabbed a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

    “We finished some plays,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s a good performance for us. Our guys were ready to play.”

    Marchessault also had an assist to finish with three points. His 12 postseason goals set a Golden Knights record, with all coming after the first round.

    Brett Howden scored twice for the Knights, who also got goals from Alec Martinez, Nicolas Roy and Michael Amadio. Six players had at least two points for Vegas, all 18 Knights skaters were on the ice for even-strength goals and their nine goal scorers through the first two games are a Stanley Cup Final record. The Knights’ seven goals tied a franchise mark for a playoff game.

    It was too much for Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was removed 7:10 into the second period down 4-0. It was the fifth time in 12 games the Knights have chased the opposing goalie.

    “We can be a little better in front of our goaltender,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I got him out to keep him rested.”

    Matthew Tkachuk and Anton Lundell scored for Florida.

    Teams that take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final are 31-3 in the expansion era. The Panthers will try to buck history beginning with Game 3 on Thursday in Sunrise, Florida.

    Hill once again brought his feistiness as well as his A-game. He stopped Carter Verhaeghe on a breakaway in the first, and later that period hit Tkachuk, who was in his net, with his blocker and then slashed him with his stick.

    “He’s been unreal for us,” Vegas forward William Carrier said. “He’s been unbelievable.”

    The Knights were dominant early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Marchessault and Martinez. It was Vegas’ third game in a row with a power-play goal, its first such stretch since Christmas week.

    The Panthers lost their biggest, toughest defenseman early in the game when Radko Gudas was injured on a hit by Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev. Gudas left 6:39 in and did not return.

    That was one of several big hits by Barbashev, the Golden Knights’ biggest trade-deadline acquisition, a Stanley Cup champion with St. Louis in 2019. Barbashev broke the sternum of Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard during the playoffs last year, also on a clean hit.

    Vegas had its own scare late in the second period when Jack Eichel was nailed in the right shoulder by Tkachuk. Eichel returned in the third and set up Marchessault’s second goal for his second assist of the game.

    “We did a good job managing momentum tonight,” Eichel said. “And we got some timely goals.”

    Ducks hire former Leafs, Islanders assistant Greg Cronin as head coach

    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks have hired veteran NHL assistant and AHL head coach Greg Cronin to be their new head coach.

    Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek announced the decision to hire the 60-year-old Cronin, who will be a first-time NHL head coach.

    Cronin has 12 years of experience as an NHL assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in two stints with the New York Islanders. The Massachusetts native has been the head coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles since 2018, and he spent six years as a collegiate head coach at Northeastern.

    Verbeek called Cronin “the ideal fit” to take over a young, rebuilding team.

    “I felt we needed a teacher of the finer points of the game, and someone who has worked extensively over time with talented young players, helping them develop into successful NHL players,” Verbeek said. “Greg has done all that and more.”

    Cronin replaces Dallas Eakins, whose contract wasn’t renewed in April after the Ducks finished their fourth consecutive losing season of his tenure. Anaheim finished in last place in the overall NHL standings at 23-47-12.

    The Ducks never finished higher than sixth in the Pacific Division during Eakins’ four years in charge. They’ve missed the playoffs in a franchise-record five straight seasons, and Anaheim was the NHL’s worst defensive team of the 21st century by several measures during the just-completed season.

    Cronin takes over a struggling team that is still loaded with young talent, including the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft and a wealth of farm prospects seemingly ready to break into the NHL. Anaheim has a solid long-term base with playmaking center Trevor Zegras, two-time All-Star Troy Terry and promising forward Mason McTavish.

    Cronin has never led an NHL bench, but he interviewed for the Boston Bruins’ vacancy a year ago.

    He becomes only the Ducks’ fourth permanent head coach since Henry and Susan Samueli bought the franchise from Disney in 2005, joining Randy Carlyle, Bruce Boudreau and Eakins.

    Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to 8-year, $62.8 million extension

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens signed Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8 million contract extension.

    The deal, which will pay the 22-year-old winger an average annual salary of $7.85 million, runs through the 2030-31 season.

    Caufield scored 26 goals and added 10 assists in 46 games in 2022-23 before he underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder in February.

    Despite missing nearly half the season, Caufield led the Canadiens in goals for the second consecutive season, tied with Nick Suzuki.

    Montreal selected Caufield in the first round (15th overall) of the 2019 draft.

    Since making his NHL debut in 2020-21, the forward has 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) in 123 NHL games.

    Vegas Golden Knights come back to beat Florida Panthers in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS – Back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in five years and trailing the Florida Panthers less than 10 minutes into Game 1, the Vegas Golden Knights sent a very clear message.

    “We were ready,” Jonathan Marchessault said.

    Ready and dominant. Vegas rallied from an early deficit, got the go-ahead goal from Zach Whitecloud with just over 13 minutes left and arguably the best save of the playoffs from Adin Hill and beat Florida 5-2 Saturday night to take the lead in the best-of-seven series.

    “We kept out composure, and it was good,” said Marchessault, one of six original Knights players left from the start of the franchise in 2017 who scored the tying goal in the first period. “We just wanted to play the right way and be disciplined, and tonight we were able to be the better team.”

    Whitecloud put Vegas ahead, a crucial penalty kill followed and captain Mark Stone scored an insurance goal that was reviewed for a high stick and confirmed. Reilly Smith sealed it with an empty-netter to make the score look more lopsided than the game.

    The combination of that offense and Hill’s 33 saves put Vegas up after a feisty opener between Sun Belt teams who wasted little time getting acquainted with big hits during play and plenty of post-whistle pushing and shoving.

    “It’s exactly what we expected,” said Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore, who scored his first goal of the playoffs and ended a 27-game drought dating to March 7. “That’s how they wanted to play. We were just trying not to play into it.”

    That stuff is just beginning. Game 2 is Monday in Las Vegas.

    Before the Panthers even get a chance to respond, they ratcheted up the physical play late after falling behind by two. A handful of penalties resulting from a fracas with 4:24 remaining left the Florida bench well short.

    The outcome was determined long before that.

    After falling behind on a short-handed goal by Eric Staal that sucked the life out of the crowd of 18,432, the Golden Knights rallied for their ninth comeback win this playoffs. Marchessault – known since arriving in Las Vegas for scoring big goals – answered before the end of the first period.

    Early in the second, Hill made a desperation stick save to rob Nick Cousins of what would have been a sure goal. The save was reminiscent of the one Washington’s Braden Holtby made against Vegas – in the same crease – five years ago.

    “That’s an unreal save – it’s a game-changer,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You need those saves at key moments.”

    Giving up a tying goal to Anthony Duclair with 10.2 seconds left in the second did not slow the Golden Knights’ momentum much. Whitecloud’s goal, with two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky screened and unable to see, fired up fans once again.

    Bobrovsky, in the final for the first time, downplayed any reason for concern after stopping 29 of 34 shots and losing for just the second time in 12 games this postseason.

    “I played a good game,” Bobrovsky said. “I played a solid game. They created some good chances other than goals. They had lots of good scoring chances, and that was fun.”

    Part of the fun came when play was stopped.

    Less than 10 minutes in, Hill was none too happy about Nick Cousins crashing into his crease and gave the agitating Panthers winger a jab that incited a handful of scrums. During the second period, Matthew Tkachuk let Vegas’ Nic Hague know he wasn’t thrilled about a hit in the corner on Cousins and a collision with Brandon Montour after the whistle.

    “If guys are going to come in my crease and try to push me around, I’m going to stand my own ground,” Hill said. “I’m not going to do anything too crazy or get too wild, but, yeah, I’ve got to stand up for myself.”

    Florida coach Paul Maurice, back in the final for the first time since 2001, displayed a similarly calm demeanor as he did all the way back in the first round, when his team fell behind 1-0 then 3-1 to NHL-best Boston before winning in seven.

    “It’s going to be tight,” Maurice said. “Everybody breathe.”

    The Golden Knights are in the final for the second time in six years of existence, five years after making it in their inaugural season. Vegas won the opener in 2018 and lost the series to Washington in five games.

    The Panthers are back playing for the Cup for the first time since 1996. Florida got swept by Colorado in that final 27 years ago, 18 months before Tkachuk, the team’s leading scorer this playoffs, was born.

    It’s the 66th different matchup of teams in the Cup final in NHL history and the 46th since the expansion era began in 1967-68. This is the first time since Washington-Vegas and just the third time since the turn of the century in which the final features two teams who have never won the league’s championship.